The limits of sport climbing: 9a soon a warm-up?
Patxi Usobiaga from Spain has climbed Hades 9a at the Austrian crag Götterwand second go, just like Adam Ondra on Der Heilige Graal 9a in Germany's Frankenjura.
Yes, 9a has been dominated second go. This is definitely an impressive rise in standards for sport climbing. And perhaps what is even more important still is the fact that the 9a on-sight barrier now seems ready... to be broken.
The first person to climb 9a in a mere two attempts was Patxi Usobiaga from Spain: the man who climbed the world's first 8c+ on-sight has got us accustomed to great performances. After the World Cup competition in Imst Patxi travelled to Austria's Götterwand where, guided move by move by Adam Ondra, he sent Hades 9a, Andreas Bindhammer 2008 testpiece. The Basque climber recently told us that he almost managed to flash the route, that he attempted a sequence which worked well for Ondra but which a few minutes later he changed, opting to pull on a tiny intermediate crimp instead...
Ondra, the climber who gave Usobaiga all the beta a few weeks ago, is the other climber to have achieved a 9a second go. Last weekend the 16 year old from the Czech Republic stopped off at his second home, the Frankenjura, where he made incredible short work of Der Heilige Gral, the 9a first ascended by Markus Bock in 2005.
Well, what can we say... apart from what is now missing is the first 9a flash and, obviously, the first 9a on-sight. The time is ripe. So: who's up for the challenge?