Free ascent in a day

August 28, 2023

Written by Rhino Admin

(The story was written by Siebe Vanhee)

On the 19th of August, Sébastien and I teamed up for a common goal we had. We aimed to climb “Rayu” in a one day push ground up push, first day on the route. “Rayu”, on the south face of Peña Santa (2596m), is opened by Iker, Eneko Pou and Kico Cerdá in 2020 and known as their second difficult multipitch in Pico’s de Europa after Orbayu, the infamous 8c multipitch on Picu Urreillu (Narano). In 2020 I had already made a free ascent of Orbayu so for me it made complete sense to return to the Pico’s and try out their second masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seb: “After a few minutes of transparent talking and hesitation, Siebe speaks up his mind, determined: he will go first in order to give me the best chance of flashing. This is actually a true gift from him and I feel really thankful! Flashing multipitches and bigwalls is a complex and demanding game that I particularly enjoy. Having the real opportunity to give a flash attempt on a hard multipitch is rare and priceless.”

I knew my chances to flash the pitch were lower than Sébastien’s so I figured I could give it a good onsight go with the option to fall and figure out all the moves for a perfect second go. This way I would also mark all the holds and find the betas for flashing Seb the best I could!

Seb: “His shoes are on, let’s go! His onsight try is far from bad. It’s quite impressive how he goes through the first crux, then the second one and how he is working hard on the third one, not giving up… until gravity, finally and unfortunately, beats him. Truly inspiring!
Siebe, as perfectionist as he can be, spends the next hour and a half trying moves, dialing betas, ticking holds. I am freezing down there at the belay, but I know he is doing it right, for us, for me!”

After his “work” go, he joins me back down at the anchor and explains to me the final bits of details. My turn! I feel stressed but psyched. Motivation between us is high and Siebe‘s proud try makes me want to fight hard. I start climbing and I can feel his strong support, stronger than ever before. I’ve the feeling he wants it as much as I do. I struggle in the first crux, breathe, I struggle again in the second crux, focus, I climb well in the third one, shake my pumpy forearms. The final long crux is above me: I know exactly what to do and I go for it. Close call: I almost missed the hold, Siebe is shouting at me! Now, I am fighting for real, three more moves! Two more. I shout myself, hard. One move left. Elbows are high, I manage to stick the final hold, in extremis! I can’t believe I am still on the wall, clipping the chain of what I would call a nice “flash- team effort”. Happy, proud and grateful.

FLASH! He did it, I was super psyched! I couldn’t wait to lower him because I felt the urge to do the same, I was so confident. The rain stayed away and the sun even came out a bit, luckily it was almost 5pm and the pitch was almost in the shade. I went for it, clean and perfect climbing, surfing on the sending vibes, brought me to the anchor.

A big scream of joy was accompanied by Seb’s load laughter and some more people at Refugio Vega Huerta celebrating with us. It was 5pm and we continued to the summit. Two more adventurous pitches with mobile protection caused us some challenges but we pulled it off. The sharp rock and micro spikes made the climbing very slow and painful. We reached the summit at 7:30pm and descended the North side of the mountain.

Climbing hard multipitches in a “one day – first day” push is exciting. Seb is the master in this style and I loved to take on this challenge as well!

Big thanks to Kico Cerda, Iker and Eneko Pou for this amazing line and sharing logistical information with us. It’s been another great classic in the Pico’s.

Exciting, nervous and noble, we made the 2 hours approach the day before and slept in a beautiful cave near Refugio Vega Huerta, 20 minutes from the base of Peña Santa. The weather forecast for the next day didn’t look that great, few millimeters of rain and wind were predicted. We decided to see it as something positive, given the south face we would need the clouds to be able to climb before 5pm when the route would get into the shade. The few millimeters of rain might even fly over the mountain, fingers crossed.

An easy morning start: at 8h30am at the base of the wall we got towards the humongous middle ledge at 11h30am, after sending the adventurous first 7 pitches. Nothing too difficult but a certain amount of focus was already required given that the first ascensionists opened this line in style without many bolts. The weather turned out to be great, windy and cloudy but no rain. Rain was predicted in the afternoon but the high clouds raced over our heads so we could be lucky.

A little snack and no time to lose, we could be unlucky with the weather. We both sent the 7b+ and 7b after the ledge and were at the base of the crux of the route. Now the nerves started to kick in and we were facing a dilemma; “Who would go first?”.

Seb comments: “Somehow, even if the idea is scary and maybe a bit too ambitious, we both think that a flash attempt is doable. The one who will go first will most probably fail the first go due to the lack of chalk and info, and will of course have to do some substantial work: finding beta, brushing holds,… and therefore loose skin and get tired, which is of course a key for success in a single-day push attempt.”

In my eyes, Rock-Paper-Scissors would be a cowardly solution avoiding to make a sincere choice.

Seb: “After a few minutes of transparent talking and hesitation, Siebe speaks up his mind, determined: he will go first in order to give me the best chance of flashing. This is actually a true gift from him and I feel really thankful! Flashing multipitches and bigwalls is a complex and demanding game that I particularly enjoy. Having the real opportunity to give a flash attempt on a hard multipitch is rare and priceless.”

I knew my chances to flash the pitch were lower than Sébastien’s so I figured I could give it a good onsight go with the option to fall and figure out all the moves for a perfect second go. This way I would also mark all the holds and find the betas for flashing Seb the best I could!

 

Seb: “His shoes are on, let’s go! His onsight try is far from bad. It’s quite impressive how he goes through the first crux, then the second one and how he is working hard on the third one, not giving up… until gravity, finally and unfortunately, beats him. Truly inspiring!
Siebe, as perfectionist as he can be, spends the next hour and a half trying moves, dialing betas, ticking holds. I am freezing down there at the belay, but I know he is doing it right, for us, for me!”

After his “work” go, he joins me back down at the anchor and explains to me the final bits of details. My turn! I feel stressed but psyched. Motivation between us is high and Siebe‘s proud try makes me want to fight hard. I start climbing and I can feel his strong support, stronger than ever before. I’ve the feeling he wants it as much as I do. I struggle in the first crux, breathe, I struggle again in the second crux, focus, I climb well in the third one, shake my pumpy forearms. The final long crux is above me: I know exactly what to do and I go for it. Close call: I almost missed the hold, Siebe is shouting at me! Now, I am fighting for real, three more moves! Two more. I shout myself, hard. One move left. Elbows are high, I manage to stick the final hold, in extremis! I can’t believe I am still on the wall, clipping the chain of what I would call a nice “flash- team effort”. Happy, proud and grateful.

FLASH! He did it, I was super psyched! I couldn’t wait to lower him because I felt the urge to do the same, I was so confident. The rain stayed away and the sun even came out a bit, luckily it was almost 5pm and the pitch was almost in the shade. I went for it, clean and perfect climbing, surfing on the sending vibes, brought me to the anchor.

A big scream of joy was accompanied by Seb’s load laughter and some more people at Refugio Vega Huerta celebrating with us. It was 5pm and we continued to the summit. Two more adventurous pitches with mobile protection caused us some challenges but we pulled it off. The sharp rock and micro spikes made the climbing very slow and painful. We reached the summit at 7:30pm and descended the North side of the mountain.

Climbing hard multipitches in a “one day – first day” push is exciting. Seb is the master in this style and I loved to take on this challenge as well!

Big thanks to Kico Cerda, Iker and Eneko Pou for this amazing line and sharing logistical information with us. It’s been another great classic in the Pico’s.

About the grade (from Seb)

Rayu’s amazing crux pitch was proposed as 8c by the first ascensionists. We had the feeling that it could be a bit easier though. Despite the reasonably good shape we are in, we can’t honestly say that we are able to send an 8c pitch that quick, high on a multipitch.  

Compared to the recent sportclimbs I’ve done, it felt closer to 8b+. The rests are too good and the moves are probably too easy to make it a proper 8c. 

Moreover, for Siebe, the crux pitch of Rayu definitely felt easier than the crux pitch of Orbayu (which is more or less confirmed as 8c). Maybe he got stronger as well? 

We reckon that the difficulty of the crux section of the pitch definitely depends on size and height, and it is probably easier for taller people. Siebe and I used a quite reachy beta which is probably impossible for smaller people. Let’s see what future ascensionists will think about it, time will tell.

 

Here are my feelings on the different sections of the pitch (based on the darth-grader algorithm ): 7a+ (route) – Medium rest – 7A (boulder) – Good rest – 6C – Bad rest – 6C – Medium rest – 7A – 6C ⇒ the algorithm gives it as 8b+ .

 

Nevertheless, this “downgrading” proposition does not detract from the performance of the Pou brothers and Kico Cerdá: opening and freeclimbing this pitch and route ground-up with this airy style is an amazing feat! Full respect! 

Rhino Admin
Author: Rhino Admin

You may also like…

2x 9a in a day

The story of a very special day with a normal send and an impromptu headlamp send in the darkBy Anak Verhoeven The...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop