Alexander Megos Defies Lactic Acid
This kid flew under the radar for too long, probably due to the fact he doesn't have an 8a.nu account to justify his existence as a climber. Not so in the last year however. Ever since laying down the first 9a onsight (almost by accident) in March of 2013, the young German has been getting the attention he deserves. After competing in his first local climbing competition in 2006, it only took the DMM athlete 3 years to win the European Youth Cup Championships. With the guidance of renowned climbing coach Patrick Matros, Alex went on to defend his title and come second place in the Youth World Championship of 2010. Now instead of going all "Patxi" on the climbing scene and vowing to come back for world dominance, Alex listened to the advice of his coach and took off on an extended climbing trip. Apparently Patrick Matros believes that climbing should be fun and that should be everyone's focus. Go figure. Off the radar, Megos quietly went about his way through Europe and the States on a gap year. Unlike a lot of climbers at his level, he seemed to focus on climbs that could be sent onsight, or in a few tries. This approach lead him in 2013 to achieve what so many believed was Adam Ondra's rite of passage when he sent Estado Critico 9a in Siurana Spain. But instead of a calculated approach to such an achievement, Megos almost stumbled upon it. He recounts for DMM: “I didn’t really plan to onsight the route. Actually I wanted to try La Rambla (9a+), but I didn’t know where the line goes and I couldn’t ask anybody. So I decided to have a look at this 9a. At the start it didn’t feel that good, because there is an awful crack at the beginning and I was close to falling right at the start. But I managed to pass the crack and found a good rest.” “And after the rest it was exactly my style of climbing. Overhanging on little crimps and no dynos. At the beginning until nearly the end of the route I didn’t believe that I can do it, but two quickdraws before the top I had a little bit of hope, because I knew that I am already quite high. Than I managed to climb the crux (for me) to the last bolt before the top and then I really believed, that I have a good chance to do it.” “There was a rest at the last quickdraw and I managed to come down, so I took my time, looked at the last three metres and climbed every move super controlled. I was really under tension when I came to the top and of course super happy. In that moment I didn’t think about having done something really outstanding. But after the send somebody asked me if this was the first 9a onsight and I said I don’t know and started to think about it.” “I don’t want to say anything about the grade and I can’t say anything about it. I did everything perfectly right on my onsight, no mistakes while climbing and I was super focused and motivated. It was a perfect flow…”
Estado Critico 9a onsight
Photo: Havista, for DMM
Following this, the world was left to wonder "why on earth doesn't this guy have an 8a.nu account? His score card would forever be on the homepage news feed". But Alexander continued in his own style, becoming famous for being able to tick off a 9a or a+ in a matter of tries. Basically it seemed to be that if he can climb it in under two hours, it's 9a. If it takes 3 hours, it's 9a+. Which leads to one big question... Does he not get pumped? Does Alex's arms not produce lactic acid? Does he mix RedBull into his coffee? Whilst most climbers at that level will get maybe two good shots at their project each day taking weeks to top out, Megos is working it and sending in time for morning tea. We in Australia got our own taste Megos later in 2013 when he headed down under. Three big things happened whilst he was here; a quick ascent of 'The Wheel of Life 9a', a first ascent of 'Wheelchair 9a+' also at the Hollow Mountain Cave (both boulder grades), and a first ascent of 'Retired Extremely Dangerous' Australia's first 35 (9a) route which had been an open project for years at Diamond Falls Blue Mountains. It did take him 3 weeks to tick this one off so it would be hard to justify a downgrade. So what now? This year news of fast repeats and first ascents in the Frankenjura are getting a little boring. A 9a here, a 9a+ there, two 9a's in a day. Whatever. Until...
Last month Alex established one of the hardest big wall climbs in the world. Located in the Switzerland's beautiful Lauterbrunnental, Megos freed a 20 pitch 8c called 'Fly'. Originally put up by Roger Schali David Hefti, who was not able to free three of the last four pitches (8b, 8b+,8c). Planet Mountain Reports: "Megos led all pitches, either onsight or flash using the beta given to him by Schäli, except for the 8th pitch (7c), the 17th (8b), the 19th (8c) and the 20th (8b+) that all needed some cleaning before being sent second go. It's worth pointing out that both Schäli and Hefti led all pitches free except for the 3 hardest, and that pitches 7 and 8 were wet initially and therefore redpointed on day 4. This means that to complete the work, what is missing is the logical ascent of all pitches in the correct order. And obviously the first one-day ascent, if this is at all possible." And thus we have the answer to our question; no, lactic acid does not exist anywhere in Alex Megos's body.
FA: Roger Schäli, Michel Pitelka, Markus Iff, Bernd Rathmayr, Mäx Grossman, Stephan Eder 2006 - 2009
FFA: 4 - 8 June 2014 Alexander Megos, Roger Schäli, Frank Kretschmann, David Hefti
Pitches: P1: 7b+, P2: 6b, P3: 7c, P4: 6c, P5: 7c, P6: 7c+, P7: 7b+, P8: 7c (expo), P9: 5, P10: 6c+, P11: 7a+, P12: 7c, P13: 2, P14: 7b, P15: 6c, P16: 6c, P17: 8b, P18: 7b+, P19: 8c, P20: 8b+