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Interview: Alex Megos on Sending Chris Sharma's Perfecto Mundo (5.15c) Project

After more than three weeks of work, 24-year-old Alex Megos from Frankenjura, Germany, made the FA of Perfecto Mundo at Finestra in Margalef, Spain, ticking his first 5.15c.

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Alex Megos Perfecto Mundo Spain Sport Climbing 9b+ 5.15c rock
Alex Megos on Perfecto Mundo (5.15c), a sustained, 25-meter, 45-degree limestone route in northeast Spain.Ken Etzel

Yesterday, on May 9, Alex Megos stuck the crux on Perfecto Mundo—a dyno from a mono pocket to a big pinch that must be latched just right—then continued, pumped, towards the top. He’d visualized every move, every hold, and imagined how relaxed and composed he would feel taking it to the chains. Now his body wasn’t responding the way he’d planned: the pain was building in his forearms and everything felt harder, more tenuous than before. He eked out short rests whenever he could, but mainly he fought to hold on. He was nervous. With the hardest climbing behind him, he still had to make it through continuous 8b+ and 8c climbing (5.14) to reach a “tiny” boulder p­­roblem at the lip, followed by the final slab. Once past the boulder problem, he spent 10 minutes crawling up the slab, “trying to calm myself down,” stopping whenever possible to shake out. When he dropped the rope into the chains, he marked his first 5.15c and ticked the first ascent of the route.

Megos is now the second person, behind Adam Ondra, to author 5.15c (La Dura Dura, Change, Vasil Vasil) and the third person in the world to climb the grade, following Chris Sharma.

“Not only did I dream about climbing the route, but when I couldn’t fall asleep I’d visualize it in my head,” he told Climbing. “I always imagined climbing it without getting pumped.”

Chris Sharma bolted Perfecto Mundo (which translates to “Perfect World”) nine years ago but, despite hard work on the route, has yet to redpoint it. When he got word that Megos and Stefano Ghisolfi were working the line, Sharma renewed his interest and drove out from his home a few times a week to exchange burns with the pair. Yesterday, Ghisolfi made it to Sharma’s previous highpoint, but ran out of time and flew back to Italy.

We caught up with Megos, 24, on May 10, after he’d returned from Racó de la Finestra, in the Province of Tarragona, northeast Spain, where his crew took follow-up shots of him on Perfecto Mundo.

How did you prepare for the route?

Alex Megos: I didn’t specifically prepare it. Before coming to Finestra, I was climbing around Vegas for three weeks trying to get fit again as I was getting over a finger injury. While there I went to the Virgin River Gorge and did Necessary Evil (5.14c) second try. I gave it a flash try but fell at the second hard move at the second crux. After that I had four days to get ready for a Bouldering IFSC World Cup—I failed to pass qualifiers—and from there I drove straight down to Spain to try this thing.

What’s Finestra like?

The whole crag is built like an amphitheater. It’s 45-degrees steep. You’re sitting under this wall and it feels quite epic when clouds roll in and there is thunder and lightning. We had a few days like that. There were always birds there.

Alex Megos Perfecto Mundo Spain Sport Climbing rock Ken Etzl Photography
Megos climbs hard while photographer Ken Etzel hangs nearby.Stefano Ghisolfi

Why this route?

I’ve come here quite a few times in the past few years. I always wanted to try it out. Then Stefano, after he tried it for a few days, said I should try it. He’s been here since April. Chris Sharma showed up a few weeks ago. It’s always more fun to work on a project with someone. Chris has it pretty dialed and definitely can do it; he just has to keep coming out and getting on it.

Chris was trying it back in the day and got close but then got distracted by La Dura Dura while Adam Ondra was working on that line. It just didn’t get that much attention over the years. Not many people can climb that grade. It got forgotten about.

Can you describe the climbing on the 25-meter line?

It’s an amazing route. It’s 25 moves of 5.14c to reach a poor rest and then comes 10 moves to reach the crux: a jump move from the mono to the big pinch. Last week I stuck the move but got the pinch wrong. From then on, I knew I could do the route. I stuck the pinch four to five times without being able to move afterword. Once I got it in such a weird way I couldn’t move at all, so I started talking to Ken Etzel, the photographer next to me, about how my fingers were all fucked up on the hold and that I couldn’t move. I had enough power to hold on and talk for ages. Three or four days later I finally stuck the pinch move and could do the next moves. From there it’s endurance 5.14 with few rests. The rock is yellow at the bottom and then goes to white and at the top it is gray. The whole thing is 45-degrees overhanging with a boulder problem to pull over into the slab. The final slab is easy 5.11, but you still have to be focused.

Watch Megos project the line:

Tell us about your climbing schedule for the route.

I was two days on, one day off, very consistent. During the last week, on day one, I would only give it tries to see how far I would get. On the second day, I would give it one to three burns and then afterward work on the sections and get them dialed, and get the slab wired. I would always see the first day as a redpoint day and day two was a split day.

What’s next? Is Silence (5.15d) on your radar?

I don’t think Flatanger [in Norway] is my style. I think I would have a hard time climbing something there at my limit… I don’t really know [what’s next]: driving back home, enjoying a few barbecues. In July I’m competing in four lead climbing World Cups.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I want to thank Chris and Stefano for encouraging me to try the route and the good times we had at the crag. Obviously, Chris has always been a big inspiration for me and it’s great climbing with him. I competed in my first youth World Cup with Stefan 10 years ago, and we’ve stayed in contact ever since.