Angela Eiter and Anak Verhoeven climb 9a at Margalef in Spain
Era Vella, the 9a sports climb at Margalef, Spain, has been repeated by Angela Eiter and Anak Verhoeven.
Sport climbing standards are continuously on the rise and unlike a few years ago, it now almost comes as no surprise that both Austria’s Angela Eiter and Belgium’s Anak Verhoeven have repeated Era Vella, the massive 50m stamina test located at Margalef in Spain. First climbed by Chris Sharma in 2010, this nigh 100 move line is young Verhoeven’s first 9a after her first 8c+ at the Gorges du Loup only last summer and bodes well for the next competition season, during which she will no doubt hope to improve on last year’s 4th place. Eiter obviously won’t be one to beat: the four times World Champion retired from competitions in 2013 and since then she has amassed two other 9a’s, Hades at Götterwand and Big Hammer at Pinswang in Austria. Her trip report is published below.
100 MOVES TO THE TOP! by Angela Eiter
I returned home from our trip to Spain very satisfied but out of energy. In contrast to our recent wet and snowy time in Greece, we enjoyed three weeks of sunshine and I’m super happy to be return with yet another 9a in the bag!
At the start of the trip I tried the routes Open your mind direct and Fabela pa la Enmienda at Santa Linya, both of them graded 9a. Although the progress I made was quiet promising, the weather got warmer and conditions forced us to move to Margalef.
Actually Era Vella wasn’t on the agenda, but when I first got a glimpse of this 50 meter high wall I immediately wanted to get a taste of it. During my first attempt I sort of missed the really hard moves that one usually finds on a route graded 9a. I managed to do all the sequences including the crux quite quickly, but I soon realized that this isn't what’s at stake on such a sustained climb that is more than 100 moves long and quite steep. It took me three goes to find all the right holds and memorize the best sequence in this sea of pockets. On my other hardest climbs so far it had always been the first big step to even be able to do all the moves, but on ‘Era Vella’ I knew it would be necessary to optimise the moves so as not to lose much power along the way. I found it especially difficult to find a safer sequence for the crux, but a difficult cross-over move turned out to be just right for me.
From just giving it a try, Era Vella quickly turned into a serious project that I wanted to bring to an end within this trip, so the upcoming journey home put extra pressure on my shoulders. So before starting to do some serious attempts, I tactically chose when to invest time bouldering out the route and when to rest. I took three falls on the crux, two other attempts even ended unluckily on the roof on the lower section.
But then the day came when body and mind where in sync and the external conditions were also perfect. I felt confident climbing into the crux and finally managed to pull it through. What followed was an interplay of resting points with bouldery sections in-between. It was a battle all the way to the top, my forearms were totally pumped but my fingers just kept holding on. When I clipped the anchor I felt totally exhausted, but of course I was excited and relieved at the same time. Yeeeeha! My third 9a was in the bag!
The climbing in Spain was perfect preparation for my upcoming trip to Greece. Climbing only on difficult routes has helped me improve my strategy on projects away from home and to deal with a deadline in the form of a trip coming to its end. I can’t wait to get on the projects we bolted in Greece. The lines are certainly brilliant and I’m psyched to find out how to climb them.