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Alex Megos has had a rather productive week. On October 8 the 29-year-old visited a new sector in Margalef, Spain, and ticked Off the Tractor and Patan el Villano (both 5.14b) before snagging the first ascent of Patata el Villano (5.14c) in one hyper-focused session.
The next day he returned to the Raco de la Finestra sector, scene of his landmark 2018 ascent of Perfecto Mundo (5.15c), and put down the first ascent of Tom Bolger’s The Full Journey (5.15b). A few days later, at the same crag, Megos finished off Gancho Perfecto (5.14d/5.15a), a pitch he’d tried concurrently with Perfecto Mundo four years ago. Finally, Megos bopped over to Montserrat to film a video shoot for his sponsor and ended the session with a rare repeat of Ramon Julián’s Red Ram (5.15a) after breaking off a “rather important hold.” Amid this feast of pocket pulling, Climbing fired a few questions over to Megos to learn more about The Full Journey.
Climbing: How do the first and second parts of The Full Journey break down difficulty-wise?
Megos: The first part is 5.14d in my eyes, [yet] depending on who you ask, people might also say 5.15a—but I think this route suits my style very well. It’s quite a powerful 5.14d, I would say, power endurancey mostly on two-finger pockets, and with a mono move that is the hardest move of the first half. You get to the anchor after about 50 feet and the first route ends. There’s an anchor and two huge jugs to rest as long as you want, but it is quite steep—about 45-degrees steep—so you get quite tired in your core.
From there on, I would say the top part is also a 5.14d, in my eyes, but in a very different style: much more bouldery than the first half. From the first anchor you set off with six or seven not-super-hard moves on two- and three-finger pockets and then you enter quite a brutal crux with a dead point move into a mono and then a huge lockoff afterwards. I would say those three moves around the mono are probably a V12 boulder in itself—maybe V13, depending who you ask.
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Climbing: Tom Bolger bolted and sent the first pitch first. Is he still trying the second? How did your beta differ from his?
Megos: Tom bolted and sent the first part, and he also bolted the second part. He did try the upper part again this week and got psyched for it, so I’m hoping more people will try the full line. Our beta for the first part didn’t really differ much—maybe a few different foot sequences but that’s about it.
Climbing: You do a ton of board training. What do you do for endurance before route-climbing trips?
Megos: Yes, I do a lot of board training but I also use a spray wall with a lot of different types of holds. This is also usually where I do my endurance training, by making up 20-, 30-, and 40-move boulder problems. Sometimes I also train endurance using systems boards, like the Kilter Board, for example, which has a route-climbing function that I use on occasion. And I often do power endurance training on the fingerboard, with one hand. Obviously this is very different from actually getting pumped on routes, but I think it gives me a good base level of endurance
Climbing: On Instagram, following your redpoint of Gancho Perfecto, you wrote, “I do have to say, it seems weird to see so many holds and footholds ‘eroding’ and getting bigger in the course of only four years. Usually it takes wind and weather thousands and millions of years to form and change rock formations. Things have been changing quite fast here lately. …” Is chipping becoming more common around Margalef? And do you think Gancho Perfecto should be retro graded?
Megos: It definitely didn’t get any harder! It could have changed by half a grade, yes, [and] that’s unfortunately the case with a few routes at Finestra.
Anthony Walsh is a digital editor at Climbing.