Remember when a 5.14a onsight was the ultimate tick? It wasn’t that long ago: Elie Chevieux of Switzerland did the world’s first 5.14a (8b+) onsight in 1995. Now, less than a decade later, Patxi Usobiaga of Spain has demonstrated just how far elite climbing has progressed, by making his fifth 5.14a onsight in a single year. Usobiaga’s onsights have been in three countries, most recently the 130-foot Millenium in Slovenia. During one two-week stretch in April, he managed three 14a onsights, including one route he thought might be harder. And the Spaniard has not neglected the very top of the scale: This year he made the third ascent of Realization (9a+/5.15a) in France, as well as four other routes rated 14c or harder.
Despite his obvious stamina, the 24-year-old from Eibar, Spain, is ranked only fourth among the world’s competition climbers, and he hasn’t won a major comp this year – he’s not the only climber whose standards have risen!