Hard routes get downgraded and upgraded after repeats all the time, but it’s unusual that someone proposes a change of multiple grades. After repeating the Iker Pou-bolted line Mejorando Imagen (9a/5.14d) in Margalef, Spain (first climbed by Ramón Julián Puigblanque in 2013), however, Alexander Megos did just that. The German wunderkind recently announced that he believes the nails-hard pocketfest to be significantly more difficult than Julián’s proposed grade, recommending an upgrade to 9b (5.15b).
Megos reported on Facebook that he climbed all the moves on Mejorando Imagen individually his first day on the route, then completed the route in two sections the following day, but on his third day he fell on a relatively easy move after the crux. For the next week he was stymied, and unable to make it past the crux move, a dyno to a mono.
At that point he admitted he nearly “gave up on the route,” but finally made it past the crux jump on his sixth day projecting. Feeling the send was inevitable, Megos again fell on the last move. “I was devastated, frustrated and very angry,” Megos reported. “I straight away gave it another try, only to fall at the crux again. I gave up.”
It’s not the first time the 39-year-old Julián’s lines have been upgraded. Nicknamed “Ramonet” (Catalan for “Little Ramon”), the Spaniard is notorious for establishing hard lines, and apparently made the first ascent of Imagen on only his third day projecting the line. He’s also outrageously prolific, with over 50 routes harder than 9a (5.14d) under his belt, and a living contradiction of the “tall climbers have it easier” excuse, standing at a mere 5’2”. A powerhouse both on rock and plastic, Julián took two IFSC Lead World Championship titles throughout his 16-year competitive career, in addition to a slew of World Cup gold medals.
After his fall on the crux at the end of his last day, Megos went up to pull his draws. Once on the wall, however, he couldn’t resist the urge to give Mejorando Imagen one last burn, his expectations “nonexistent.”
“I climbed so badly, I barely stuck the crux move and then I kept climbing badly to the top,” Megos said. He had finally emerged victorious, making the second ascent of the line nearly a decade after it was established. “Sometimes I don’t understand climbing and the mind,” he said.