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In an attempt to make space for the newsworthy ascents that occur with ever-increasing regularity, our weekly news roundup tries to celebrate a few outstanding climbs (or interesting events) that for one reason or another caught our attention. We hope you enjoy it. —The editors
Strong trio establishes 5.12c R wall in Greenland
Fay Manners, Martin Feistl, and Michelle Dvorak have made an impressive first ascent on Father Tower, in Greenland’s remote Mythic Cirque, over two days.
The Mental Breakdown (5.12c R; 2,500ft) was established in a lightweight alpine style, and the team carried just one inflatable Grade VII Equipment portaledge (which fits one person, comfortably) for the three of them to sleep on.
Writing on Instagram, Manners spoke of multiple highlights of The Mental Breakdown. “The most impressive feat was Martin onsighting the [5.12c] crux pitch of 65 meters on protection that was serious and sparse!” she wrote. “And then after [that] leading another very serious pitch which involved a terrifying hollow flake!”
Manners also had a few uncomfortable leads herself, leading the splitter “hand cracks” they’d spied from camp, which turned out to be gaping offwidths. “[It was] a shame we didn’t bring the number 6 cam and left it in the basecamp!” she said.
Of the route name The Mental Breakdown, Dvorak wrote that it “may have” been inspired by her crying at a belay after tangling the ropes yet again, “though each of us took turns … [experiencing] the feeling over the two days it took to climb it and descend on foot.”
During their trip Dvorak and Manners also established The Princess Brides (5.11c; 1,200ft), “because what else could we name a route climbed by two girls on a tower whose first and only extant route is called The Chastity Belt of Sean?” —Anthony Walsh
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Brazil gets its first 5.15
On the heels of the first female send of a V16 comes another big first: the first 5.15 on Brazilian soil, established by longtime crusher Felipe Camargo, 32. The route, Auto Retrato, is located in Serra do Cipó, Brazil’s premier sport crag, located some eight hours north of Rio de Janeiro. Camargo has previously climbed three Chris Sharma 5.15s, all of them in Spain: Papichulo (5.15a) in Oliana in 2017; Gancho Perfecto (5.15a) in Margalef in 2018; and El Bon Combat (5.15b) in Cava de l’Ocell in 2019. He’s also climbed numerous boulders V14 and harder.
Camargo began the season in Serra do Cipó by working on an existing project, Gran Reserva, which he FA’d at 5.14d last month. After sending Gran Reserva, he bolted a harder start—turning the opening of the route from a 5.13c to a 5.14a/b, thus making it a power endurance test piece. “50 moves with no good rest,” he told 8a.nu, followed by a 5.13a. Including the time working on Gran Reserva, Auto Retrato took him some 30 sessions—most of which were in deeply subpar conditions.
While Serra do Cipó is typically prime in the dry winter season (May through August), “the season here was really bad this year,” Camargo told 8a.nu. While trying Auto Retrato and its neighbor, Gran Reserva (5.14d), which he FA’d last month, Camargo tried a variety of things to beat the heat. At first he tried climbing at night, with a Makita fan hanging on a rope to cool certain sections of the route. Later, when the rains began and the evening humidity spiked, he switched to morning sessions. On the day of his send, he was climbing before 6:30 a.m. His first few tries were “really bad,” he told 8a.nu, because his body “wasn’t understanding why the hell I was climbing so early.” He sent on his third go of the day and was done before 9:00.
Regarding the significance of the grade, Camargo noted on Instagram that when he started climbing back in 2001, the hardest route in the world was Chris Sharma’s Biographie (a.k.a. Realization), but the hardest route in Brazil was just 5.14a, and 5.15 “seemed so unreal and unreachable” to Brazilian climbers. “To put up such a hard route in my country,” Camargo adds, “feels way more special than anything else I’ve done.”
Not a small statement from the first Brazilian to climb V15 and 5.15b. —Steven Potter
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Matilda Söderlund Sends Niemesis (5.14d)
The 31-year-old Swede has sent her second 5.14d after clipping the chains on Hannes Puman’s Niemesis. Söderlund estimates she spent some 50 days on the route, making it her longest project to date; she began working the line in 2021 and trained for it using a replica she set at her gym.
“Feels surreal to close the chapter on this one,” she wrote on Instagram. “I was in great shape and after my first trip I thought I would come back and send it quickly—that was not the case. In total I spent about 35 days on [the route] in 2021, 2 days this summer, and 10 days this trip.”
She described the 25-meter line as “sustained,” noting that the crux amounted to 19 “hard, crimpy and technical moves.” Ungraded by Puman, Söderlund proposed 5.14d, noting that it felt like her hardest send to date (Söderlund sent her first 5.14d, The Elder Statesman, in the Frankenjura, in 2019). She also used Darth Grader—a site using pseudo-scientific methodology for grading routes based on section breakdowns—to confirm the difficulty.
Originally a comp veteran, Söderlund retired from the World Cup circuit in 2015; her best placement was 6th in the 2012 Paris lead World Championships. She’s since co-founded a gym, Moumo, in Stockholm. —Delaney Miller
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