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My first 9a - Loic Timmermans

My first 9a - Loic Timmermans
My first 9a - Loic Timmermans
My first 9a - Loic Timmermans
My first 9a - Loic Timmermans
May 12, 2014 -  Loic Timmermans    

This is the story of my trip in Santa Linya and my first 9a, Fabela pa la enmienda! Beside the fact it is a pretty cool number, it's an accomplishment, a consecration and something I'm proud of. Also because it's the proof, for me, that I can study at University and practice sport at high level.


I left Belgium with Antoine Kauffman to Santa Linya / Spain for a two weeks trip. I already had the opportunity to visit the cave, as I went there for one day last year, while climbing in Margalef. And it is at that moment I decided to come back this year for a bit longer, as the style of the route was fitting mine pretty well. So here we are, in la "Cova Gran" of Santa Linya!

The big cave of Santa Linya is probably one of the most crazy cliffs I’ve been too, it’s just huge! Some 50 meters high and there are only a few routes that go to the very top of the cave… And when they do, it’s only about 8c+/9a at least. That’s why it’s so famous in the climbers community and it’s always very stimulating to climb together with strong climbers.

The first day was a bummer, for my forearms. I thought I was trained and had a lot of resistance… Well, actually not. So I decided to not focus on trying hard projects or accomplish hard routes but only on CLIMBING! So I started climbing a lot of routes, even repeating routes for a couple of times, just to get the endurance back.

And day after day, I build the endurance back and faster than expected. I could even climb Fabelita, 8c, the 3rd day of the trip and on my 19th birthday! 

As it was going better and the confidence for trying hard got back, I started trying Fabela (8c+), the left extension of Fabelita. It’s basically the same start and at 2/3 of the route, there is a hard bouldery section and a last dynamic move to the anchors.

After a few tries and finding the best beta for me, I arrived pretty fast - and not expected - to the anchors.

Right after the send, I went checking out the 9a extension. After the 8c+, there is a very nice rest but you are only at about half the way…. The extension is an 8b with no very hard moves but composed of some sequences with no rests… And then a last move à Heartbreaker.

The rock is also pretty breakable up there… I had never broke a hold and I already broke two on that try.

The funny fact is that I had never been able to link the extension without falling before the actual send. I always fell totally exhausted and pumped.

The SEND: I started my try with no expectations as I just fell at the top crux of the 8c+ the try before. I just focused on climbing section per section, move per move. And then I surprisingly arrived at the top of the 8c+, again. It’s quite mentally challenging as there is a big rest there. A lot of things are going through my mind like, I really don’t want to have to climb the first part again. Or wow, am I going to send? Or I have never linked the extension. Will I do it now? So I took some 10 minutes rest, resting physically but also mentally. Breathing for I while... When I started again, I was very determined and just focusing on every move (I was actually also hoping the holds would not break!

Then started the big fight! I arrived totally pumped at the last rest before the top section and did the same process as at the rest before. I knew the last move could be fatal. I just focused on my climbing and on how to put my feet. I did the vey tricky move, lost my feet, and grabbed the last hold. I clipped the anchors pretty fast, not enjoying yet at all, as I could have fallen there.

After this I just enjoyed the moment, I also had to recover from the send… about one hour climbing for 120 moves. (I was told later that it is actually possible to put some knee bars)

I spend the next days enjoying the sun of Catalunya, a glass of champagne and climbing Rollito Sharma Extension, 8c.

After the two weeks of climbing, I had a lot of pain in my neck, due to belaying and having my head always looking up. I heard about belaying glasses so I decided to try them. I have to thank CU Belay glasses and Albi Scheider who sent me a pair of them. I will definitely try them out and give feedback.

Stay tuned...

Photo credit: P. Cuypers

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