Working out a climbing route

Created by: Adam Ondra

When a certain climbing route is too difficult to be climbed onsight or flash, I usually do not even attempt to get as high as possible on my first try. Obviously, it is very difficult to know if there is any chance or not beforehand, and that is why I almost always give a route proper first try in all the routes easier than 9a, because anything can happen real.

Perfecto Mundo climbing route specifics

In the case of Perfecto Mundo, it was pretty clear though. My level is nowhere near 9b+ flash or onsight. Additionally, I have already climbed the first 7 bolts of Perfecto Mundo and this section is shared with a route called Gancho Perfecto which I sent back in 2011. So even if I had sent the route on my first try, it wouldn’t have been flash due to my prior knowledge of the lower section. On my first tries, I would usually spend a lot of time in the route, mostly just hanging in the rope and considering all the possible sequences. Sometimes it does have nothing to do with physical effort, but more with an almost-like meditation process. I do not really decide on the first possible beta that comes to my mind and that feels doable, I always try to make sure that I have considered all the possibilities.

Long power-endurance climbing route

My first two tries in Perfecto Mundo were excellent. I did not even spend that much time inspecting the holds, as I had the video beta from Alex Megos, Stefano Ghisolfi, and Jakob Schubert. I tried most of their methods and the moves felt relatively mellow when they were done individually. As is the case in most of the sport-climbs, when you start linking from the ground, even mellow moves feel all of the sudden utterly impossible. The reason why you end up sending the route is the muscle memory and improvement of the climbing flow. You do not necessarily get stronger while trying the route (it is often exactly the opposite), but you get it absolutely dialled. The harder the route is, the more dialled you have it into the tiniest details and more time and tries you need to get into this state. Perfecto Mundo is a long power-endurance route. You need to do quite a lot of climbing with poor possibilities to rest. The first section is about 9a itself. And then there is this one distinct crux move which might be quite mellow when it is done individually (I do not think that the move itself is harder than the 7C boulder problem), but as it requires a lot of explosive power, it gets really tricky to do it even with slight fatigue.

If there was a move of similar difficulty, but requiring less explosive power and more finger power, it would be way easier as it is easier to have finger power while being pumped than raw explosive power. The upper part is no more than 8b route, but with growing fatigue and pump it is still pretty easy to fall there.

Tactic of working out the climbing route

My tactic of working the route might be quite surprising in the case of Perfecto Mundo. I knew about this one crux move and I wanted to make sure that every time I get to the crux, I have a fair chance of sticking the move. If I had started giving it proper tries from day 1, I would get relatively easily into the crux move, but then I would be miles away from sticking the move. So I set myself challenges trying the route from a certain point and then going to the top of the route. On day 1, I did the crux move starting from bolt number 7 (crux is bolt number 10). Even though I fell from the upper section (more due to mistake than lack of power), I was confident that I could start linking the route from the lower point. And that is why my next target was “sending” the route from bolt number 5. So I would just climb up to the 5th bolt, take a good rest while hanging in the rope and start my “attempt”. I thought I would be successful in making this link in a few days, but unfortunately, bad conditions arrived and even the easier moves felt really hard all of the sudden. I still tried for quite a few days despite bad conditions, but then I would eventually stop and patiently wait for the better conditions to come.

Is climbing with a tape the right option?

What is really tricky while working on Perfecto Mundo is the skin on my fingertips. I would have LOVED to try the crux move all over again, to get dialled, to grow my confidence that I can do it many times in a row, but that is simply impossible. Very good skin and very good weather conditions let you try that single move (of the mono into the pinch) roughly six times a day before you make a split. Splitting a tip is what you absolutely want to avoid because a split on this part of the finger will be healing for days, and then it will re-split easily again. Climbing with a tape is an option, but it definitely makes the move a lot harder. Actually, I felt like the whole movement must be executed in a pretty different way while wearing the tape, so you do not really work that well on the muscle memory. The result of my tactics was that I never split that tip on the mono, but I never really got a practice that moves enough.

While trying the route for many days, I kept finding small details that were constantly making the route a tiny bit easier. Sometimes these “discoveries” looked like they would make a huge difference, but after another try, I would find out that making this bad kneebar or using this tiny intermediate only takes more energy. But I really took a lot of time to consider if my method was perfect and the most efficient for me.

A reason to come back

When better conditions arrived (after more than one month in Margalef), I felt ready to skip the “5th-bolt-start” and start giving proper tries from the ground. It felt so close, many times I almost stuck the pinch, sometimes even sticking the pinch, but falling in the move right after. The later it got during the autumn, the more I was feeling tired and out of shape. Despite having the route completely dilated and just cruising almost effortlessly through the lower part, I ended up failing. A reason to come back!

Check out the whole playlist from Margalef on my YouTube channel or read some more articles right here.

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