Alex Megos and his first 9b - Up-Climbing

Alex Megos and his first 9b

At the end of 2015, Alex Megos realized the ascent of First Round, First Minute, an incredible 9b route in Margalef opened by king Chris Sharma. It is the first climb of this grade for Alex and, leaving to Thailand, we intercepted him to have some impressions about FR, FM.

First, congratulation! Finally the 9b grade is arrived! Which differences did you feel compared to your precedent 9a and 9a+ about attempts, mental approach and difficult? How “big” is the “gap” from 9a+ to 9b in comparison to 9a to 9a+ for example??

Thank you! Well, I would think actually that the differences between 9a – 9a+ and 9a+ – 9b are not super big, when you finally climb the routes. At the beginning for sure a 9b feels harder then a 9a+ but after working the route a little bit it seemed not too bad. But still the funny thing is that although you think you should already be able to climb it on the second day, you still need 5 days to do it.

Tell me something about the route for your point of view. Which style is it? Do you need more power or endurance? What your feeling first time you touched the rock of this line?

The route is not very long. The route in total might be around 13m I think, and the hard part are about 10m. It directly starts hard from the ground, then has a section with a lot of slopey pinches and a dynamic move into a pocket. That is the best hold in the route, so you shake out once or twice. Till there its probably already 9a+. And then from there the final crux starts. For me it all came down the the last hard move, which was a big dynamic move up the a sidepull. The crux for me was to have enough power left to do this move. I think you need power endurance for this route. Because none of the moves is suuuper hard, but there are more then 20 moves in a row where it doesn’t get easy.

In these last years, you are one of the most important 9a and 9a+ promoter in the world, with an incredible number of FA in every part of the world and a lot of other ascents but why did you decide just now to try a 9b? Was it a case or a precise decision?

I just lever found a 9b which really motivated me before. I tried a few, but always just for 10 or 15min and they didn’t appeal to me. FRFM got my psyched and motivated from the first moment on! After trying it in November for 3 days I knew I wanted to come back to finish it off. So I came end of December and climbed it on the last try of the day.

How do you think that is possible to increase the top level in sport climbing? “10a” will be possible one day or is correct to think that top climbers are near the maximum climbing level for a human?

I am sure that we are not yet at the maximum level a human can reach in climbing. Maybe 10a will be possible one day, maybe not, I don’t know. But I think there is still a lot in training which can be improved in order to become a better climber. There are always new training methods coming and more reseach is been done, so I think in a few years (or maybe a few decades) the training will allow more people to climb on a higher level. And with a bigger base of strong climbers I would think that the top level will as well be raised.

Where are you now??

I am enjoying Thailand! Just sitting outside now answering this interview and its about 27°C at 7pm 😉  

Interview Stefano Michelin