posted by dpm on 07/02/2012
Just last Monday, Ramon Julian pushed through 103 degree heat to send Chris Sharma's 5.15a Catxasa in Spain's Santa Linya cave. As any good professional climber would do, Ramon returned to the route the following Friday for a photo session with Carlos Perez. He cast off for photos and surprised himself by linking to the anchor for a repeat performance. At the anchor is a massive rest where Ramon was able to get it all back before extending the pitch to a higher anchor. This was the first time the extension was done in conjunction with the first pitch of Catxasa and Ramon has proposed a 5.15a/b grade for the full line.
Ramon poses down and still clips the chains on Catxasa. More of Carlos Perez's photos of the send can be seen on Ramon's blog.
The extension is undoubtedly a remarkable feat of endurance, adding a 5.13d/14a on top of the 5.15a pitch. Not everyone agrees with the 1/2 a letter grade upgrade though. In some comments made over at 8a.nu, Henning Wang (who has very in-depth knowledge of the cave), insists that the rest at the anchor is so good that adding the additional extension, which is shared with quite a few other routes, should have no bearing on the overall grade. He cites this as the reason that Sharma didn't continue to the high anchor for the first ascent. It's an interesting side note to discuss, but whether it adds a half a letter of difficulty or not, stacking on another pitch of 5.13d/14a is certainly at least a touch harder than just lowering to the ground!
Yesterday, Sunday the first of July, Ramon had another amazing day. He started off in Margalef with perfect cool temperatures that contrasted the stifling heat of the previous week. After a few warm-ups, he gave a shot at his project Nit de Bruixes (5.15a), a line opened by Iker Pou just seven months ago. The route is a power-endurance tester with small one and two finger pockets out the belly of a characteristic Margalef roof.
Ramon's first burn ended with a fall at a precise dynamic move that required him to rework the sequence. While resting for another try, some impending bad weather urged him back onto the route and he was able to clip the chains. Ramon celebrated his third 5.15 send of the week by driving over to the Santa Linya cave for a 5.14a onsight and another 5.14a second try.