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Patxi Usobiaga climbing Papichulo 9a+ at Oliana in Spain
Photo by Javi Pec

Patxi Usobiaga returns to 9a+ climbing form

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Basque climber Patxi Usobiaga has repeated Papichulo, a 9a+ sport climb at Oliana in Spain. This heralds a great return to form after injury.

Ten years after his second 9a+, Patxi Usobiaga is now back to the same form that in 2007 enabled him to make swift work of La Rambla at Siurana and that, in 2004, netted him the third ascent of Realization at Ceuse in France. Yesterday the 36-year-old climber from Spain’s Basque country redpointed his third 9a+, Papichulo at Oliana. The three routes are separated not only by the long decade-long interlude but above all by a difficult period which, in 2011, saw Usobiaga stop climbing completely due to a herniated disc as the result of a car accident.

Usobiaga’s withdrawal from sport climbing came at the peak of his career: in 2009 he had been crowned World Champion, in 2008 he'd won the Rock Master and in 2007 and 2006 he won the Lead World Cup. On rock, he wrote climbing history by making the world’s first 8c+ onsight, on Bizi euskaraz at Etxauri. This futuristic ascent in December 2007 was doubly impressive because it also happened to be the first ascent of this route.

In mid 2013 Usobiaga started climbing again and the results came in fast; in June 2014 he redpointed 9a again, and after niggling injuries he confirmed this in 2016 with his ascent of Seta Total at Cuenca. Now he’s upped the ante by sending Chris Sharma's Papichulo, and Usobiaga’s joy is comprehensible "I can’t really describe what’s going on in my head right now… It has been an exciting process and I’m so proud of the progress. Psychologically it has been a bit a bit of a mental struggle to find that balance between being extremely motivated and not over-accelerated. I’m glad things fell into place today!"

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NEWS / Related news:
Climbing World Championships, Qinghai, China
07.07.2009
Climbing World Championships, Qinghai, China
The IFSC Climbing World Championships drew to a close on 05/07/2009 in Qinghai with Patxi Usobiaga Lakunza (ESP) and Johanna Ernst (AUT) winning the Lead. The Russians Alexey Rubtsov and Yulia Abramchuk won the Bouldering event, while Speed was won by the Chinese Qixin Zhong and Cuilian He.
Patxi Usobiaga, Action Directe and victory after defeat
05.11.2008
Patxi Usobiaga, Action Directe and victory after defeat
Interview with the Basque climber after his victory in the European Championship and his recent ascent of Action Direct.
Paxti Usobiaga show: Bizi euskara first 8c+ on-sight
13.12.2007
Paxti Usobiaga show: Bizi euskara first 8c+ on-sight
Patxi Usobiaga, on tour and on firing form, proposes the world's first 8c+ on-sight, Bizi euskara at Etxauri, Spain.
Patxi Usobiaga strolls La Rambla and more
04.12.2007
Patxi Usobiaga strolls La Rambla and more
On Tuesday 27 November Patxi Usobiaga redpointed La Rambla 9a+ in Siurana, one of the reference routes for this incredible grade.
World Cup Lead 2007 won by Usobiaga and Vidmar
20.11.2007
World Cup Lead 2007 won by Usobiaga and Vidmar
Competing in Kranj, on 18/11 Maja Vidmar from Slovenia and Patxi Usobiaga from Spain won the Lead World Cup 2007. The Slovenian stage was won by Vidmar ahead Irati Anda Villanueva (ESP) and Lucka Franko (SLO), while Swiss Cédric Lachat won the men's event ahead of Flavio Crespi (ITA) and Tomasz Mrazek (CZE).
Patxi Usobiaga repeats Realization 9a+ at Ceuse
02.08.2004
Patxi Usobiaga repeats Realization 9a+ at Ceuse
On 29/07/2004 Patxi Usobiaga made the third ascent of Realization / Biographie, 9a+ at Céüse.

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