I’m slowly becoming more interested in climbing again, and to that end the following video came across my desk today.
I enjoyed it on several levels, but none more than watching Andrada climb La Rambla towards the end. I started climbing in a time of transition, 1993, when indoor climbing gyms were beginning to explode across America and european sport climbing was still several years off from ceding the pinnacle of the sport to bouldering and American teenagers.
Andrada has lived through both eras, and marries the strengths of both styles in a way which is quite beautiful to watch.
The euro style of the 80s and early 90s was born on limestone sport crags and in competitions, and is unquestionably best epitomized by Francois Legrand. Careful, static, efficient, cerebral. I took to that way of climbing well when I first started. It was how all the good climbers climbed (back when Table of Colors was considered a hard route at the Red), and I was then and always will be in the bottom ten percent of climbers with regards to strength (especially fingers). To keep up with my friends I had to think my way up routes.
Starting with Chris Sharma, and reinforced by Dave Graham, a new style emerged in the mid to late 90s, where talented climbers bred largely in gyms attacked steep routes with dynamics and power, unfettered by the seriousness of first-wave sport climbing (and often due to prodigious genetic gifts the need to use feet). Sharma and Graham have both matured enormously as climbers since, making 5.15 commonplace amongst the upper echelon by using (as Andrada does above) both dynamic strength and efficient technique. Nonetheless, many of the immediate post-Sharma generation are still thugging up remarkably hard routes and problems with technique which, while imbued with enough subtlety to make cutting edge ascents possible, leaves a lot to be desired on the aesthetic front. Watching Daniel Woods climb, for instance, is for me akin to watching a tractor pull. Granted Hueco bouldering (an area equal to Sharma in its importance shaping the current era) may not be the least biased example available, but I hope that Woods and his peers refine their skills in the years to come, and make ascents even more impressive and beautiful to watch. Beauty not just in purely aesthetic terms, but insofar as athletic achievement at the outer level of an individuals potential is a great indicator of humanities promise, actualized.