Chris Sharma Conquers La Dura Dura

Interesting piece by Andrew Bisharat for Prana looking at Chris Sharma’s journey to climb La Dura Dura (5.15c):

Some five years ago, La Dura Dura didn’t exist other than as a simple, vague desire within Sharma to progress as a climber. In 2008, at 27 years old, Sharma had just sent Jumbo Love, thereby establishing the first rock climb rated 5.15b. This was actually the second time Sharma had advanced the world standard; in 2001, he climbed Realization, the first 5.15a. By many measures, Sharma had proven himself to be the best climber of his generation. It was something he had been told all his adult life, too—flattering hype that always made him uncomfortable, if not wary. But it wasn’t until he completed Jumbo Love that he realized one of the reasons why.

Sharma looked within and realized he’d been climbing for 15 years and, thus far, he hadn’t really had to try very hard to be the best.

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26 Responses to Chris Sharma Conquers La Dura Dura

  1. Brady Robinson August 29, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Great article by Bisharat! I don’t know if it is true that Chris wasn’t trying hard before though. For many years my personal benchmark of “trying hard” was at 13:45 of this video: http://youtu.be/_eTxQLfIUNY

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  2. Yo Chi August 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    A good read, but calling Realization the world’s first 5.15 isn’t exactly true.

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    • Narc August 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

      Agreed. The whole first to X grade thing is a bit unclear given how old routes can get up or downgraded over time.

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  3. THE menace August 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    what do you mean x grade? why is realization not the first 15?

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  4. THE menace August 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    thank you Narc for that tidbit. It has always been a bit odd to me that top climbers are not in a hurry to pursue the newest hardest route. but maybe the top climbers are the same as the ones who just sent their first 10d. ratings are suggestive. some one who can send god module in 5 goes but projects millipede shows that. Different lines require different styles and most climbers excel at a particular style. so really unless you can climb it you should not be concerned what the grade is. that is the opinion of a weekend warrior who hopes to crack the 13 grade asap and scours the web for motivation to train in the off season. by the way thank you for so much needed motivation!!

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  5. Franz the Stampede September 1, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Yet another missed occasion to leave the “first to do grade X” attitude and embrace the “first to do grade X consistently, not as a one off” one. True, Alex Huber’s Open Air was graded 9a+ by Ondra, although he later admitted it’s on the lower end of the grade (an opinion he holds for La Rambla too). This said, Chris was the first one to nail 9a+ routes that have been confirmed as such by MANY climbers (e.g. Biographie, Papichulo, La Novena Enmienda, Pachamama was repeated by Amma and worked pretty extensively by Pringle), so hats off to that. Same goes for 9b.
    There’s plenty of great “records”, achievements probably a better word, that belong to Chris Sharma. Just choose the right ones… ; )

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    • JMB September 1, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Not that it really detracts from your point, but La Novena Enmienda was put up by Dani Andrada (and didn’t Ondra call it 9a?). You do bring up an interesting question: which route at each of the high grades is the first “benchmark”, i.e. totally solid for the grade with no one suggesting an up or downgrade. (For instance Biographie was logged as a 9a by Ethan Pringle (and maybe others?) before a hold broke and made it harder after which Enzo Oddo repeated it). For 9a+ I suspect Papichulo may be that route.

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  6. Franz the Stampede September 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    I know that La Novena Enmienda was put up by Dani but yes, I had forgotten that Ondra downgraded it if you skip the mono as rest or something.
    I think that Pringle was always a bit off with grades. Ok, let’s say that I think his personal grades tend to differ quite a bit and quite often from the consensus. He said Jumbo Love could be harder than 9b (although he never climbed a 9b). He didn’t downgrade the Golden Ticket while both Ondra an Oddo did. Finally, he did record Biographie as 9a+ hard on his 8a.nu scorecard, which makes me think that his downgrading is just a misunderstanding? I can’t find a direct quote of him downgrading the route…

    But either way, the possible downgrade of Biographie is nonsensical to me because that route was the first 9a+. As such, it IS the benchmark. Same goes with Action Directe if you forget the whole “UIAA XI was first 8c+ then 9a” thing. The first established route of one grade is the benchmark. That’s why all that talk about AD being “hard 9a” and Spanish endurance routes being “just 9a” is rubbish to me: the original AD is 9a, anything that is discernably easier than that will be soft 9a or 8c+/9a or hard 8c+, you name it. Not the other way round.

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  7. ryan j September 2, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Chris is always heralded as the “hero” of American climbing so it makes for a much better “story” that he ushered in the 15a and15b grades. It cannot be argued that he did not solidify those grades, much the same as andrada did for 9a/+ in Spain, but open air was done years before biographie was realized and chilam balam was sent long before either es pontas or jumbo love.

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  8. Franz the Stampede September 2, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Ryan, I’m sorry but I didn’t get your conclusion? Are you saying that a “sexy” story (albeit inaccurate) is better than actual facts? Or just that some people in media think that?
    I think the (recent?) history of sport climbing is already exciting as it is, I see no need to embellish it further especially at the expense of accuracy.
    Ah, and sorry for beating a dead horse, but Chilam Balam’s first ascent has not been verified BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. If we want to talk 100% factual stuff, I’d leave it out… :O

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    • ryan j September 3, 2013 at 7:15 am #

      Franz, I too believe in the value of facts. It seems that in the American media, it is always “Realization, Worlds First 5.15”
      Every time I see such a proclamation, I cringe a little as it seems our society has confused ‘story’ for ‘facts.’

      As for chilam balam, it has been confirmed as light 9b, not 9b+. It seemed most of the disbelief stemmed from Suggesting such a large leap. But having numerous confirmed 9a/+ routes, Bernabe sending chilam balam seems slightly easier to believe, no?

      Also, there is the akira debate. It seems that Fred roughling should get historical credit for either 9a-b or v14.

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  9. Franz the Stampede September 3, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Ok, then yeah, I see. It is the big stars&striped “propaganda” and it does make me cringe too for the aforementioned reasons. Mind you, I trust everybody tends to be nationalistic, the thing with English speaking countries doing it is that most foreigners can read it, while I’m not sure how many people can tell whether people from a small country and speaking a little-studied language overestimate their athletes or mountains ; )

    I don’t wish to discuss the Chilam Balam and Akira stuff, I think it’s off topic, although your input is reasonable and correct.

    Back on topic, my point is that projecting one single route to death for 3 years doesn’t quite make you a fully fledged climber of that grade if that’s the first route of that grade for you, particularly so if the route is very, very specific (which could be, at the same time, the very reason why you were able to send it, because it fits your style/body/strengths so well). I find it much more valuable climbing at a certain grade consistently and having a few routes of a certain grade under your bolt. But I guess we’ll never manage to agree on a “minimum number of these routes to be climbed in a specific time frame” so we’ll have to settle for 1 single route and we’ll hardly ever leave the “first to do that thing even if it was just one time” frame of mind.
    If you take it to onsight climbing: sure, Patxi was the first to onsight 8c+ in 2007. That was his only ever exploit at that grade in that style. By the end of 2011, Ondra had logged 8 and he’s climbed about 15 by now. So yes, Patxi was the first one ever to meet the minimum requirements to say “I’ve onsighted 8c+”, but somebody else happened to be the first climber that you could say his common onsight grade was 8c+… I think it’s an importan difference given how, in many other sports, the challenge is always the same (e.g. athletics, swimming etc), but no two routes are the same in climbing.

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  10. JMB September 4, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Ignoring the question of whether or not Akira is 9a, 9b, or something else, and whether or not Bernabe actually climbed Chilam Bilam, didn’t Dani Andrada put up the 9b sit start to Ali-Hulk prior to Sharma climbing Jumbo Love?

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  11. Franz the Stampede September 5, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    That’s another good question. Ali-Hulk was even shown in Dosage V, when Chris hadn’t sent Jumbo Love yet.
    I was really hoping that Magnus Midtbø could send Neanderthal this year. He would have been the only person to have climbed a supposedly 9b route in that “low cave roof style” AND a fully fledged 9b with bolts and rope.
    Judging from the difference in effort (3 weeks for Magnus for ali-Hulk if I’m not mistaken, still working on Neanderthal after what, 2 or 3 years?) and the fact that Sharma has even said that Neanderthal is low end 9b, I’am PERSONALLY inclined to think that Dani’s route is not a 9b.
    He also proposed that 9b+ Picacho (check YouTube), but to little media/community recognition. Sure his sponsors would want him to publicise such an achievement?

    The whole think leaves me pretty confused. I guess those cave grades are consistent with themselves but kinda disjoint from proper route grades. I’d love somebody who has done the Wheel of Life to have a go at Ali-hulk (or Picacho) too.

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    • Matt September 6, 2013 at 6:00 am #

      You worry too much about grades. This isn’t 8a. We’re not in Europe.

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      • Franz the Stampede September 6, 2013 at 7:17 am #

        If you are not interested in what we are discussing, just don’t join the discussion.

        Also, no such thing as “Europe” on an international website which I believe welcomes readers from all over the world. CN does a great job in reporting good news in a good perspective. It just so happened that, while commenting this piece of news, somebody correctly pointed out that Sharma may not be the first one to have climbed a certain grade and a grade discussion ensued.

        Again, all I can say is that you leave others to discuss in the informed and civilised way they were discussing if you are not interested in what the discussion has become. Is that so hard?

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      • Dan September 6, 2013 at 7:26 am #

        But how else are we supposed know how many points everyone gets and who’s in the lead? Just kidding. Or am I..?

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        • Franz the Stampede September 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

          Ask about who’s in the lead to Bisharat, who thinks Sharma was the first one to climb both 15a and 15b. I didn’t start the whole “X was the first to climb Y”! It may not be the case as we are finding out here. But Chris was the first one to climb both grades consistently and publicly, which I think is a much more interesting achievement.

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    • T September 6, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Please keep the 8a discussions to 8a

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      • Franz the Stampede September 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

        Right T, I am sorry I have spoiled the discussion that was massively benefiting from your non-grade related comments. BUT WAIT. It look like this was your first post on this topic. And it doesn’t look like you have contributed to it a lot with it.

        Sooo, I’ll sure try my best not to sway toward grading any quality discussion in which you’ll have a major role. But if it’s the case of a perfectly civilised grade discussion, I think you should just stay away from it if you are not interested. Doesn’t sound like a big ask, does it?

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  12. Tys September 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    @Franz the Stampede:

    Did Dani Andrada actually climb that route? I thought it was just a video to showcase a project.

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  13. Franz the Stampede September 6, 2013 at 3:00 am #

    He did
    http://climbingnarc.com/2007/11/andrada-climbs-515b-link-up/

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    • Franz the Stampede September 6, 2013 at 3:05 am #

      He also proposed Delincuente Natural as a 9b, still in the cave. Check his 8a.nu scorecard. He doesn’t do the ranking game, so get to Magnus from the ranking, get to his Routes, All Time, get to Ali Hulk Sit Start Extension and find Dani as the other guy who climbed it… :O

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      • Tys September 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

        I meant Picacho. In the youtube video he doesn’t climb it and google can’t find anything that says anything about an ascent of the route called ‘Picacho’. I think that at least some site would have reported it if he had climbed a proposed 9b+.

        Furthermore, I got no idea how long Magnus Midtboe has tried Neanderthal, but google says something about him trying some weeks in 2012 and then again 2013 this year, but this year the route was wet. When you say that he has been trying it for 2-3 years, that sounds like a lot more than what seems to be the case. I might be missing something though, I have only been searching on google for like 3 minutes.

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        • Franz the Stampede September 7, 2013 at 4:23 am #

          Yep. Again, I am glad that we are having these discussions and digging deep. True, Dani does not seem to have climbed Picacho. It would be in his 8a scorecard like the other outes I guess? Media would have reported. I see that YouTube has 4 videos of Picacho, the earliest one is probably the original upload, yet it has no description nor anything.

          I think Magnus had 3 trips to Neanderthal, and yes, it’s only from 2012 onwards, I’d have to go through his blog in detail to be sure. Also, many routes in Santa Linya share parts with many routes, Neanderthal maybe one of these so it might have been partially climbed already. Either way, I still think it would be interesting to hear his opinion once he’ll have climbed Neaderthal.

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