Pou Flashes 5.14b

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Iker Pou Azkarrga, the Basque climber who has done everything from V14 boulder problems to 5.14 free walls, is now the third climber to flash an 8c (5.14b) rock climb. Pou flashed Alpinismo Deportivo at the pocketed limestone crags of Cuenca, a couple of hours east of Madrid, Spain. Austria’s Kilian Fischhuber was the first to flash an 8c, Tai Chi in Switzerland, in the spring of 2004. Last fall, Yuji Hirayama of Japan onsighted White Zombie at Spain’s Baltzola. The difference between a flash and onsight at a well-traveled sport crag is subtle and debatable, however, given the number of climbers working the routes, the well-chalked holds and tick marks, and climbs that often share starts. And, of course, grades are always debatable: Hirayama onsighted a route thought to be 5.14b way back in 1999, but this climb was subsequently downgraded. Pou shot to prominence among world climbers in 2000, when he repeated Action Directe, the benchmark 9a (5.14d) located in Germany. He also made the third free ascent of El Niño (5.13c/d) on El Capitan.