Alexander Megos on belaying Margo Hayes up Biographie at Céüse
A semi-serious interview with Germany’s ace climber Alexander Megos who belayed Margo Hayes during her historic first female ascent of Biographie at Céüse in France.
While waiting to find out more from Margo Hayes herself about her ascent of the benchmark 9a+ Biographie at Ceuse, we decided to find out more from the man who held her ropes on during her historic redpoint last Sunday: none other that top German climber Alexander Megos who had repeated the route in 2014.
Alex: so you’re the man who belayed Margo on Biographie
Ah yes! My first 9a+ belay!
How come you were climbing with her?
Well I was at Ceuse with a bunch of friends last week, while she was at the crag alone with her mum. But her mum doesn’t climb…
So you stepped in.
Yeah. I’ve been told I’m pretty good at belaying ;-)
But her mom walked up almost every day to check ;-)
You know Biographie intimately Alex
Well, not really. When I climbed it in 2014 I sent it in a day, so I wouldn’t say I know it intimately. But yeah, I know the holds well enough, I can remember all the crux sequence.
How did her attempts go?
Good! I was impressed. I’d already belayed her a couple of times a few weeks ago so I knew she was close to doing it. At one point I noticed that during her redpoint attempt she’d climb the crux differently then when bouldering out the moves. She climbed much much faster when bouldering the moves than during the linkup. And I also noticed that her knee would drop one way during the linkup, and drop the other way when just trying the moves.
So you told her that?
Yes, she adjusted things a bit and improved significantly.
Tell us about Sunday
realised immediately that she was on a good run as she climbed through the lower section. The first moves flowed easily so I knew the next 20 minutes were going to be interesting. But I’d also belayed her twice before when she fell off the crux, once she’d even fallen right after the last hard move just before going for the final shakeout before the last 10 meters… So I was nervous.
You were with her all the way…
Totally. It was similar to when I myself am fighting on a really hard route. You get a massive adrenalin rush. It’s really involving. You get to experience the highs and also the lows.
This time Margo clipped the anchor without falling
Yes! It was totally cool. And it was really touching to see how happy she was. She’d worked so hard for it, and got it. I was overjoyed, too, she really made my day.
Not bad for a first 9a+ belay!
I agree! And I belayed Stefano Ghiolfi on his first 9b, First Round First Minute at Margalef. So now I reckon I’ve got a pretty good belay curriculum.
Can we phone you if we need a belay?
Well I haven’t belayed anyone doing 9a or 8c+ yet. So when you’re ready just give me a call!
TOPO: the crag Céüse
BIOGRAPHIE -THE ROUTE'S HISTORY
bolted by Jean-Christophe Lafaille, climbed to half-height by Arnaud Petit in 1996. The extension was freed by Chris Sharma in 2001 and called Realization.
Chris Sharma, USA, 2001
Sylvain Millet, France, 2004
Patxi Usobiaga, Spain, 2004
Dave Graham, USA, 2007
Ethan Pringle, USA, 2007
Ramón Julián Puigblanque, Spain, 2008
Enzo Oddo, France, 2010
Jonathan Siegrist, USA, 2014
Alexander Megos, Germany, 2014
Adam Ondra, Czech Republic, 2014
Sachi Amma, Japan, 2014
Stefano Ghisolfi, Italy, 2015
Jon Cardwell, USA, 2016
Sean Bailey, USA, 2016
Margo Hayes, USA, 2017
MY HEART IS FULL I am grateful to Jean-Christophe Lafaille for envisioning this graceful line, Biographie, in 1989. In 1996, Arnaud Petit completed the pitch to the first anchor, and five years later, in 2001, @chris_sharma became the first person to complete the line to the highest anchor, simultaneously sending the first ever 9a+. Thank you for giving Biographie / Realization to our community! In life, we are tested. Biographie tested my commitment, my fortitude, and my belief in myself. In May, I touched Biographie for the first time. Ever since, the route has been ingrained in my mind and body. In one week, I will leave France, the country that I have lived in and learned from for the past year. Just yesterday, I realized this dream. The difficulties of this endeavor were overshadowed by the sound of the birds, laughter of friends, and the changing of the seasons. To experience the delicate power that Biographie holds is a true privilege. I am so grateful for the support that I have received from the climbing community throughout this process, especially from @arnaudpetit_climb , my mentor on this journey. Thank you, @alexandermegos for the send belay and @jan_novak_photography for this image. @thenorthface @petzl_official @lasportivana @frictionlabs @dogearedjewelry