|Double whammy! Christian Bindhammer sends two of Italy’s hardest, redpointing the classic “Underground” 9a and making the first repeat of Alberto Gnerro's brand new “Ground Zero” 9a.
Underground - Pueblo di Massone (Arco)
On 5 October the German repeated Arco’s wildly overhanging 20m testpiece. Three bouldery sections, Fb 8a, Fb 7b+ and Fb 8a respectively, lead past slopers to the finishing holds: four times Christian fell from the final moves before finally redpointing the route.
Ground Zero - Tetto di Sarre (AO)
Clearly on great form he travelled west to the Aosta Valley to try “Ground Zero” (9a), freed on 11 Spetember by Alberto Gnerro. Christian had already tried the route on previous occasions without much success, but this time things turned out differently: after briefly checking the route on 8 October he sent it next go! Christian confides: “I gave it 150%, it was one of those moments that happens perhaps 2 or 3 times in 10 years. The desire to succeed was stronger than my strength and stamina!”
Why, according to Christian, Underground is 9a
As some will know, Underground was originally graded 8c+. Christian told us why he proposes 9a:
"When Yuji Hirayama climbed the route he told me he was unsure of its grade, but felt it to be more like 8c+/9a. Francois Legrand on the other hand was sure it is 9a. Thomasz Mrazek reckoned this year that the 9a grade is correct. I feel this is right as its the hardest that I've ever climbed. Personally I found it slightly harder than Ground Zero. There are of course many, many 8c+, that are significantly easier than these two routes. Obviously at this level much depends on the how the route fits you, and it's because of this that grading is always subjective. I think that Underground fits, for example, Yuji Hirayama very well (body strength, long dynos, body tension). On the whole I'm very sure that the 9a grade is correct. But perhaps in the future there'll be a series of climbers who will try the route and tell us what they think."