On the 5th of August, Alex Megos climbed his long-term Ceuse project, Bibliographie, with ‘one last go’ on the last day of his trip. After taking approximately 60 climbing days Alex suggested a grade of 9c (5.15d). There is plenty of news out there already (as well as some great stories on Alex’s own Instagram feed). However, Ben Bransby caught up with the man himself to ask some of the important questions, like what is your second favourite brew, plus a little bit of the history from fellow DMM athlete Ethan Pringle.
Q: First of all, congratulations Alex on sending Bibliographie—an amazing achievement.
Alex: Hey Ben, here we go. I’m starting to answer some questions. I’m laying in bed now in my underwear, because it’s absolutely boiling here in Nuremberg. And it’s humid as f**k. I think the only place still climbable in the Frankenjura is Café Kraft because they’ve got air-con.
Q: Ethan Pringle bolted Bibliographie in 2011 and I think he only gave the line a quick look. When did you first spot the line, start trying it, and did you know it was possible the first time you tried it?
Alex: I first started trying the line in June 2017. I think a day after I did Jungle Boogie. I kind of ran out of things to do in Ceuse, so I tried another 9a+, but couldn’t get to the anchor because it was spaced out between the bolts with zero chalk, and after taking a couple of massive falls I was not psyched any more.
So, then my attention was drawn to this project right of Biographie, and I thought “Oh, I’ll just go up and see if it’s possible”. And I think it took me an hour-and-a-half to get to the anchor, but I knew it was possible straight away. I knew it would be hard, and that the boulder problem in the middle was hard, but I knew that it would be possible.
Ethan: I bolted it in May of 2011. I only went up it on lead once. Even as I rapped down it to bolt it, I could tell it was going to be so, so hard. I predicted 5.15c (9b+). I went up it once on lead just because I had gone through the trouble of bolting it, but I knew it was way over my head in terms of the physical strength it obviously required. But I could fathom—someone, or myself in better shape than I’d ever been in—doing the moves.
I’m so psyched Alex put in the effort to see it through and liked the line as much as he did. Honestly, after I bolted it, I thought it would never get climbed, except maybe by someone of Alex or Adam’s calibre. When I heard a few years ago that Alex had already put something like 30 days into it, I was like, “wait, what!?” I was so happy.
Q: An 8B boulder crux is going to be pretty punchy on any route but especially so after 8c climbing to get there. How were you finding the crux in isolation? Was it a case of having to climb the 8c so well you were virtually fresh when starting it?
Alex: I think I have to sandbag grades a little bit. I think it’s probably an 8b+ route into an 8A+ boulder problem. After I found a tiny little micro-beta in the boulder problem, I think it made it a touch easier, but nonetheless it was a bit of an issue to get past the boulder problem after climbing the first part of the route.
The crux in isolation I think took me about three days to do, still with the old beta, then I improved the beta a tiny little bit on my last trip which made it a tad easier, but it was always depending on conditions actually. I mean if I had some wind and dry skin, the friction on the holds was better and I could climb the boulder problem starting from the rope no problem. But on a really bad day I couldn’t hold on to the holds. I never actually was fresh when I got to the boulder problem climbing the first bit, like around 8b+. I obviously tried to climb it as efficient as possible and all the time actually I literally got to the crux and almost didn’t feel any pump. So it was about making the first bit as perfect as possible and really trying to climb as efficient as possible to get to the boulder problem with enough power left.
Q: I was chatting with Sam Whittaker after he had belayed you on it a few years ago and he said you were taking some big falls off it. Was it just too hard to clip during the climbing or were you just mega-psyched and skipping clips going for it?
Alex: Yeah, so when I was there with Sam in 2017, and 2018 too I think, I was skipping the clip right before the crux, because it seemed to be easier that way not having to clip. When I did it, I actually clipped that draw. To begin with I thought the fall was ok how it was, but if something would have happened to the bolt or the quickdraw underneath, somehow would have unclipped, then I would have definitely decked and that would not have been very pleasant from 15 metres. So I tried to find a way to clip it, extended the draw for it to be easier to clip, and it anyway felt better to chalk up my left hand, so I could do chalking and clipping at the same time pretty much and that’s how I did it in the end. So I didn’t take that big a fall anymore. I still did the big run out up top though, but there when you are falling it’s no problem, so up top I skipped two clips.