In climbing I do things that I enjoy and want to do not the ones that are currently in fashion.
Muriel Sarkany
Brand news
Climbandmore special
News/Last added
 Climbandmore special
The Last, but Not Least Decade
Arco Rock Junior 2010
Humbles stays home - Maja Vidmar onsighted 8b+
Ice Climbing Trip to the Land of the Rising Sun
Why Yosemite? Answers by Top Climbers
 Climbandmore special

French Advantages - Part II
The short history of rock climbing 1980-1990

For the opening balance of the decade to be completed we should briefly refer to the "dark" 80s, when on the French rock outcrops the dissemination of "the murderer of the impossible" was started. The murderer had the shape of a simple expansion bolt and was described in such a poetic way by a worldwide authority, also known as a prospector and persistent tracker of the Himalayan Yeti. Suddenly, solid, smooth, unprotected and, to be honest, useless rock crags became available. Sport climbing has been born, and thus also its inherent counter partner - traditional climbing (after all, early on there was only just climbing). France is ahead of our little world. Popularity of sport climbing spills all over the country. Step by step another new areas where rocks are cut with lines of silver plates are being opened, and not only these routes, but also ones that are composed by a chisel are considered almost "natural". As if it was not enough - climbing gyms were created. Each town (doesn't matter big or not) wants to organize "pro"competition, which are more attractive, with the bigger prize pools. This fashion slowly poured out over almost the whole Europe and even further. The French, however, quickly announced their dominance to the world when Patrick Le Blond Edlinger opened Ça Glisse Au Pays des Merveilles in Buoux in 1983 - "the murder of the impossible" made possible to break the magical barrier 8a. Edlinger gained glory and splendor thaks to sufficient amount of favourable newspaper articles, radio and television programs, which finally resulted in choosing him as the most popular athlete in the Paris Match's poll, probably in 1985. The additional flavour of this story is that not only Tony Yaniro did a trad Grand Illusion in 1979 (graded by author’s humble opinion 7b +, and verified after years as 8a/+) or Dave Cuthbertson led Requiem in the same style in summer of 1983 (but who would have thought about the conversion of an E8 6b into French 8a+?), but also less than a week before the achievment of goodness Patrick, Marc Le Ménstrel and Fabrice Guilot had opened Reve d'un Papilon (Buoux) and Crepinette (Eaux Claires), both graded then 8a. Well that was only learned after years...

Meanwhile, the media, with “Vertical” at the head, carried out an incredible crusade taking next steps in the sky-high speed: 1984 - Jibi Tribout La Bidule 8a +, 1985 - Marc Le Ménstrel Le mains sales 8b, 1986 - Marc Antoine, along with his brother - Choucas and La Rose et Le Vampire 8b, and the same Marc Le Minimum 8b +, and finally Antoine sent on-sight Samizdat 8a in 1987 (however, the true meaning of those standards, is bluntly presented by Jerry Moffat in the movie "OnSight")...
The world of sport climbing not only picked up the bug, but also discovered something to be learned and it happened so fast that it was hard to cut French down to size, which couldn’t be done by announcing the next grade, because it seemed almost impossible. Blow came from the British Isles (today perceived as a European bastion of traditional climbing, but could anyone anticipate that resistance to the pressure of "the murder of the impossible" in Britain?). In 1988, Ben Moon’s ascent of the passage sarcastically called Agincourt[1]
was advertised, and graded 8c. And as if it wasn’t enough, it happened in the birthplace of sport climbing - in the French Buoux. Two years later, Moon opened another line, but this time in his own country, in Raven Tor area. The route was called Hubble and it was the first 8c+ line. No sooner had the echoes of Moon's feats stopped than the rumors about incredible Action Direct by Wolfgang Güllich came from the dark teutons woodlands. Nobody had any doubts, seeing long dynamic moves from one single-finger pocket to another, that the 9a level was touched ... Anyway, it was impossible to ignore Güllich himself - extremely modest person who did not elbow his way by means of the covers of all kinds of magazines. In the course of time the worldwide audience took note of his advantages in rock race for the highest grade. Even though Güllich precisely and logically measured that his routes are difficult, he never insisted on them being the worldwide top, often repeating that that was certainly the hardest route he had ever done. Time, however, showed that this statement was tantamount to the truth, i.e.the leading of the most difficult route in the world. And so now he is regarded by the history of recorded first passes in particular degrees as the undeniable leader, before Le Menstrels and Moons: 1984 - Kanal im Rücken 8b, 1985 - Punks in the gym 8b+, 1987 - Wallstreet 8c...
What are the conclusions? Firstly, that sport climbing has become a mass media's discipline with all the advantages and disadvantages connected with it. By means of competitions and comparable levels of difficulty of rock routes it can be easier to identify the master; one can say who is the best or who should be given respect and praise of readers. This is not an exception. In every discipline, even the most abstract one, there is a need for stars that would drive popularity and prosperity. Along with that, straight commercialization has come, which shouldn’t be perceived in a negative way, because after all it’s good to be able to earn one’s living (more or less successfully) by doing what makes one happy - although in some way it peeled the areola off the idea of "free climbing", which was regarded as a kind of counter-culture movement. It became clear that to gain fragile and dubious fame one had to use media quickly and consistently, although truthfully their extension at that time was not very large.

The second important phenomenon was shockingly quick overcoming of subsequent steps on the scale of difficulty - in a few years it has been pushed through 7 grades!
We should shudder at the thought what would have come out of it, if this trend was maintained - the top climbers would now probably climb the panels made of glass. But returning to the reality, the progress of that time was affected by many favourable factors: after all, changing the character of climbing (from cracks to walls, etc.), making technological progress (e.g., Boreal shoes), recognizing the scientific training methods and building a gym wall boosted popularity of climbing and therefore more talented people got involved in it ...

[1] Agincourt is the place of British victory over French forces during The Hundred Years' War. In French the name is written as Azincourt.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  
See also
Jerry Moffatt - Revelations
 Climbandmore special
Humbles stays home - Maja Vidmar onsighted 8b+
Chris Sharma Quotes – Zen Thoughts
Martina Èufar: "7 Most Important Moments in My Climbing Career"
Natalija Gros: "7 Most Important Moments in My Climbing Career"
Wolfgang Güllich 1960-1992, Germany
Josune Bereziartu, b.1972, Spain
Martina Èufar
David Graham
Alexander Huber
Aleksandra Taistra in Rodellar - Gallery
Petzl Roc Trip in Zillertal
Top Climbers
Famous Climbers' Portraits
Ola Taistra Gallery
Arco Rock Legends 2006
Muriel Sarkany - Portrait
Alex Huber on Pan Aroma
Josune Bereziartu - Part I
Dave Graham
Desnivel 11/07
Desnivel 07/07
Góry 09/06
Góry 06/06
 News/Last added
Hannah Midtboe and Sachi Amma going strong in Spain!
Alex Puccio in Chironico, Nalle Hukkataival and Jan Hojer in Val Bavona
Leslie-Wujastyk, Puccio, Koyamada and Kassay rock in the rocks!
9a for Jacopo Larcher and another 8c+ for Mélissa Le Nevé
A run of good RRG luck continues – Mélissa Le Nevé + Cardwell and Ondra
FFA of Punks in the Gym 8b+
Another boulder conquests by Carlo Traversi and Dai Koyamada
Carlo Traversi pushing himself in Magic Woods
Dai Koyamada's disappointment in Chironico
Echo from the rocks – Söderlund, Sharma, Harnden, Fineron
White Noise for Graham, Mind 2 Motion for Hong
FFA of Tetris 8A+
Change 9b+ by Adam Ondra
Arco Rock Legends 2012
Dai Koyamada on The Story of 2 Worlds
Josune Bereziartu New Mixed Route
Stephan Siegrist successful in Patagonia
The Huber Brothers Set Another Speed Record
Alex Huber opens Pan Aroma 8c
Dave Graham repeats Realization 9a+!
Another 8c+ for Josune Bereziartu
Another 8c for Ola Taistra
Dave Graham repeats Eclatamasters 9a
Harrington Joins 8c Women Club
Another Huber's free-solo
Rock Master 2006 - Results
Ociepka sends 8c
Bereziartu and Otegui make their first free ascent in the Pyrenees
Listen to the Master: Ben Moon
Josune Bereziartu on Training
It’s all in your mind: Mental Training Quotes
Listen to the Master: Ben Moon, Part 1
Listen to the Master: Jerry Moffatt
Trango Nameless Tower
Torre Central
News | Fotogallery | Clips | Interviews | Gear | Quotes | Climbers | Training/Tech Tips | Regions | Walls | Routes/Crags | Books/Movies | Mags | Links |
All texts and photos copyright (C) 2005-2019 Piotr Dro¿d¿ - ClimbandMore, unless otherwise credited
Editors: Monika M³odecka, Janusz Szymik