Alex Megos' ascent of Estado Critico at Siurana in Spain is widely accepted as the world's first 9a onsight. The outstanding climbing talent of this 19 year-old is matched by his modesty. His quiet and down to earth approach to climbing partly explains why until now he has remained under the radar of much of the climbing media. You wont find his name next to a scorecard on 8a.nu
A member of the DMM Climbing Team for the past four years, Alex sent us an email from Spain with some background to his ascent: "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 was originally graded 9a when it was first climbed in 2004 by Ramon Puigblanque but Adam Ondra had suggested it was easier when he repeated it in 2007. He changed his mind in 2010 after re-climbing the route with the direct start - Golpe de Estado 9b - and a hold having subsequently broken.
Alex dislikes having to spend a great deal of time redpointing, preferring to try and onsight routes. He is well-known for his three attempt threshold before moving on. As part of his training regime he is an advocate of using gym rings to build core strength and to train the antagonist muscles.
Alex's recent American four month road-trip came to an end in early February. During this time he climbed 135 8a/8A's or above, including sending 9a, flashing F8c+ (fifth in the world to achieve this) and flashing V13/Font 8B; all hinting that perhaps we could expect greater things to come from this young Frankenjura climber - see Megos Fufills his American Dream, More on the Road Success and Megos Impresses in the States. Dpmclimbing.com wrote: "For hard sport climbing and bouldering, this is a contender for the most impressive trip that's taken place on American soil."
You can see Alex in action in this vid, winning a fun deep water soloing comp together with Peter Würth, during the 2012 Kletterfestival. For more background on one of the world's most talented climbers click through to his DMM Team profile.
We'll let Alex have the last word: “Something I have learned in my climbing years is that time management is really important, but the most important thing is fun. It’s not worth training hard for a good result in a competition or to climb a hard route, if on the other hand you lose the fun which climbing should be. It doesn’t matter if you have climbed the route or you’ve won the competition. When you feel like chilling or doing something totally different, just do it. Sooner or later you will find your way back to climbing because it’s simply the best sport on earth.”