Many great climbers say Action is a benchmark 9a route. Do you agree?
Yeah. It's either a benchmark of a 9a route or an 8c+ route. Either one, I think that's interesting. The question of grade now would be an interesting one because if AD is the first 8c+ done, then everything else in the world would change - everything. But at the same time all the new routes that are there could get 9a+ or 9b because they are not based on AD. AD is undoubtedly 9a for me. For me, I consider it the 1st real benchmark, for me it was a really interesting thing. But I don't know if other climbers feel the same way. It may be subjective because, to be honest, a lot of people don't use it as a benchmark.
How would you compare difficulties of this route to your line The Fly, which you did a year before doing Action?
Both routes are bouldery and short although there are different holds on them: pockets on Action and pinches and crimps on The Fly.
In the end I would find a big difference between The Fly and AD. AD is a route, The Fly is a boulder type route. It's really a boulder and as such it has been done without a rope. I guess AD is a link between a route and a pure boulder. It's a link of multiple boulders, like an 8a boulder to an 8a boulder and to another 8a boulder. The Fly is a different type of thing, it's not that long and there's only a small link. But for me it's very significant because back then it was something that inspired me to try AD. For the moment it provided good training for AD. And maybe you can say I didn't approach AD with any special training but maybe I approached it with a very abstract form of training, which I had been doing for years with AD in mind; so training crazy moves in the gym, moves I imagined to be like the ones on AD. Even though they were just my imagination, I would try them a lot; I put a lot of energy into it.
The Fly from 2000 is still the hardest climb you established (March 2005). Haven't you seriously tried to make another first ascent of that difficulty since that time?
Yeah, very many times. I have tried a lot of 1st ascents since that time, a lot that are really hard. I will put it this way: The Fly being 8b is a boulder, and if it's graded 8b as a boulder this means I've done many, many first ascents after that, but maybe without a rope. I've done a lot of things like the Fly opening new boulders.
Now you climb mostly in Europe. How often do you go back to climb in the US areas?
I go to visit my family and I go climbing in Rumney and I look for crags, do my favourite 7cs, 7bs and 7as and try some other routes, but I don't climb in the States so much. I plan to go back and climb some more but I don't actually climb that much when I'm there. When I go to Utah for the trade show, I climb a bit, I go to climb in NY a bit, but at the same time climbing isn't my focus, it's more like visiting my family and doing other stuff - working stuff.