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Yuji Hirayama first to onsight 8c!

25.11.1999 by

Yuji Hirayama is the first person in the world to onsight the mythical 8c. The route is called Mortal Kombat and is situated at Castillon, France.

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Interviews with Yuji Hirayama after the Rock Master, Arco

Yuji Hirayama
by Nicola Noé
The news isn’t exactely fresh off the press, but for those who haven't heard it yet, Yuji Hirayama is the first person in the world to onsight the coveted 8c. The route, Mortal Kombat, is situated at Castillion, France, had been recognised in the past as a possible contender for this feat.

PlanetMountain.com felt it important to get the details first hand, so our correspondent Nicola Noé got in touch with Yuji.

Suprisingly perhaps, Yuji didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about his performance, because he wasn’t convinced about the grade of the route. Whatever its grade (8c or 8b+ awaiting confirmation) this onsight remains one of the hardest to date and places Yuji as one of the favorites the World Championship in Birmingham, 3-5 December.

Allô! Puis-je parler avec Yuji?

Oui, c’est moi!


I was calling Nice, in France, and did not expect Yuji to answer the phone immediately.

Hi Yuji, have you heard of "Mortal Kombat" 8c in Castillon?

Yes!(laughing)

“What type of route is it?”


It’s about 35 m long, with some rest points in between the crux sections; it’s a stamina route: the first section is 7c+, +, then there's a big rest, then the second section which is 8a This has some small shakeouts but no great rests. The final headwall is 7b.

“Had you planned on climbing it onsight?”

Actually yes. Once I was in Nice on a climbing wall with friends and they told me that the route suited my style, that I stood a chance of onsighting it. So I thought “Why not, let’s try!” Since then I’d always kept this thought in the back of my mind.

In comparison to other routes that you’ve onsighted, did you find the moves harder to interpret?

I’ve already done five 8bs onsight and I think this was much harder; it took much more energy out of me. But compared to some 8b+ that I was very close to onsighting, this was very similar. That is why I don’t think this is really 8c.

Were you climbing at your limit or was there still a margin for error?

I think I could even have given some more. I could have fallen off the harder moves, but when I climbed passed these sections I felt O.K. and was able to recover. At the end I felt a little stressed, a little tense because I realised I was close to onsighting it. But otherwise I felt good, I could go on some more.

Do you know of other climbers attempting it onsight?

No. not that I’ve heard of.

Did you prepare for this in a specific way?

Last spring and summer I thought I could do some 8b+ onsight. I didn’t prepare for it specifically, no, I just went there as I was.

What about your plans for the future?

I’ve come back to Nice and I want to do some more 8b+ onsights, or some 8c redpoints, but I’ve only a week left, so I don’t know what I’ll be able to do. Then there’s the World Championship in England. I think I should think more about that.

Do you normally start up a route to do it onsight?

I try on-sight most routes up to 8b+; most of those over 8b+ I try red-point: 8b+ is my cut-off. I really like both onsighting and redpointing.
I am definitely happy with this performance but at the same time I’d like to do something more … like an 8c on-sight!!! One day, maybe, this is my goal!


All the best, Yuji!

Yuji Hirayama photographed at RockMaster, Arco 99 (©Tremolada - PlanetMountain.com)


Below: The French crag Castillon (©N. Noé)
la falesia di Castillon

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