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Adam Ondra climbing Stoking the Fire 9b at Santa Linya, Spain
Photo by Vojtech Vrzba
American boulderer Alex Puccio
Photo by Giulio Malfer

Adam Ondra, Alex Puccio, Gabriele Moroni, James Webb, Daniel Jung, Jakob Schubert... climbing above and beyond the limits


A quick overview of some of the most important climbs carried out recently by the likes of Adam Ondra, Alex Puccio, Gabriele Moroni, James Webb, Daniel Jung and Jakob Schubert

Climbers seem to be heading so quickly towards the current limits with such a huge number of interesting ascents that, we confess, it is almost impossible for us to ride on the crest of things. Gabriele Moroni for instance has repeated Niccolò Ceria’s Happy Birthday Totò at Cresciano suggesting a refreshingly interesting upgrade from 7C+ to 8A+. Daniel Jung for his part has made short work of both Xaxid Hostel 9a and Histerija 8c+ at Misja Pec in Slovenia, and in between attempts at what eventually will become the incredibly difficult The Big Island assis, America’s James Webb continues to make Fontainebleau’s boulders tremble with fast repeats of L'arete de boissy assis 8B+ and Le pied à coulisse 8C. And then of course there are Adam Ondra and Alex Puccio, both of whom have made very different, yet at the same time just as remarkable ascents that are well worth investigating.

Ondra checks in with the first repeat of Stoking the Fire, a 9b at Spain’s massive Santa Linya cave bolted by Tomaz Mrazek and freed by Chris Sharma in February 2013. "I have no doubts about the grade whatsoever, I can confirm it’s solid 9b" Ondra told planetmountain.com, explaining that the route is "extremely physical. There is in fact no really small hold, but it’s all about body tension, with 25 moves that have to be done in a row, without a rest, not even to clip or chalk up!" So although the 23-year-old Czech climber has now sent 14 routes graded 9b or harder, this ascent was certainly no walkover. "I would have loved for it to be routine, but I spent a day in February 2015, then some time in November when I got really close by falling off the last hard move, another 2 days in December, and now 5 days. It was definitely a fight and I’m just super happy to have it done." The astounding list of Ondra’s fourteen 9b or harder climbs is published below, and it’s worth noting that worldwide there are only 20 or so routes graded 9b or 9b+. Of which, just to make no mistakes, the hardest three were all first ascended by Ondra.

While Ondra was working on his oxymoronic 9b with no small holds, America’s Alex Puccio was busying away at three heinously crimpy 8B boulder problems at Hueco Tanks in Texas: Crown of Aragorn on 18 February, Fred Nicole’s notorious 1998 test piece Slashface on 20 February and then, a day later, Nagual. The latter was sent in "about an hour or less…" and, with these three 8B’s in just four days, it goes without saying that Puccio continues to be one of the strongest and most consistent female boulderers of all times. 8B+ is currently the absolute max of female bouldering, a level of difficulty achieved by only a handful of other women - or men for that matter. Puccio reached this important level of difficulty with her ascent of Jade in August 2014, confirmed a month later with her repeat of The Wheel of Chaos a month later. Supported by fourteen other 8B’s, it’s easy to see why she seems poised for greater things yet.

To get an idea about how fingery Slashface is, check out Jakob Schubert's attempt of this boulder problem. Together with Puccio the Austrian won the recent Hueco Rock Rodeo climbing competition and his three week stint also netted him other ascents such as Desperanza 8B+ and The Gallows 8B+.

03/2010 Golpe de Estado, Siurana, Spain, repeat
02/2011 La Capella, Siurana, Spain. 9b, first ascent
03/2011 Chaxi Raxi, Oliana, Spain. 9b, first ascent
04/2011 Chilam Balam, Villanueva del Rosario, Spain. 9b, repeat
04/2011 La Planta de Shiva, Villanueva del Rosario, Spain. 9b, first ascent
10/2012 Change, Flatanger / Hanshallaren, Norway. 9b+, first ascent
02/2013 Fight or Flight, Oliana, Spain. 9b, repeat
02/2013 Dura Dura, Oliana, Spain. 9b+, first ascent
08/2013 Iron Curtain, Flatanger / Hanshallaren, Norway. 9b, first ascent
08/2013 Move, Flatanger / Hanshallaren, Norway. 9b, first ascent
12/2013 Vasil Vasil, Sloup, Czech Republic. 9b+, first ascent
02/2014 First Round First Minute, Margalef, Spain. 9b, repeat
11/2015 C.R.S., Mollans, France. 9b, first ascent
02/2016 Stoking the Fire, Santa Linya, Spain. 9b, repeat





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