One of World’s Hardest Trad Routes Opened in Finland
Finnish climber Tomi Nytorp has made a new hard trad ascent in Finland and proposes the grade to be 8c+. This grade proposal puts the route, called Privatvägen, among world's hardest trad ascents! This article is based on the Finnish interview made by Antti Liukkonen in Työväenkiipeilijät.
Tomi Nytorp has been a pioneer and legend in Finnish climbing already in the 90s. He’s been achieving a lot both in indoor competitions and on rock including multiple medals from the national championships and plenty of 8c+ and 9a sport ascents, including Escalatamasters (9a) Spain ja Essential (9a) in Frankenjura.
Last Tuesday 14th of May 2019 Tomi, who just turned 40 this spring, found himself of top of his 20 year old project. When you look back to his previous ascents which he usually has ticket with remarkable speed, it seems that this route would be in totally different category when it comes to difficulty.
Congrats for the ascent! It seems that it wasn’t a too easy one. Could you tell little bit about the process?
Thank you. Yes it was indeed a very long process. I visited the route for the first time in 1999 or 2000 when i got a tip about it from another climber. First the conditions were a bit tricky as it was fully in shade. But then the forest was cut in front of it which lengthened the season.
I visited the route frequently both with a friend and alone. As there’s nothing else to climb it wasn’t always easy to get a partner to join. Luckily it’s possible to work on the crux part with self-belay and some years ago I managed to do the crux part. This spring I had a great training season behind me without injuries so I spent more time with the route and during the 5th session of this spring I found myself on top of it.
Could you describe the route and the day of the send?
The crag is about 17-18m long and shaped a bit like a half of a ball. Because the route traverses a bit sideways the total length is about 25m. Visually it’s really beautiful as for multiple meters there’s nothing but smooth rock on both sides of the crack. Overall the line is very clear and beautiful.
The start is a bit overhanging with rather good holds for about 10m with the difficulty of about 7c. In the end of this section the profile eases a bit the the crux begins. As there’s a lot of drag on the rope we were thinking about ways to minimize it with my friend Olli-Petteri Manni. The result was that I climbed the first section with double rope so that one of the ropes was in my harness with a carabiner. Just before the crux after I have clipped in few good pieces I drop one of the ropes. The nice thing is that the protection is so good that there’s no need to worry.
Overall the holds are rather good but the tricky part is that there’s not really any rests and you need to start the crux without any rest. The crux consists from 7 powerful boulder moves on a very thin vertical crag. You’re not able to jam it but you need to use long gaston lock offs. What increases the difficulty are the bad footholds which are found also in the more difficult parts. I tried multiple different hand sequence variations but this seemed the best. As it’s very clear line I don’t thinks there’s many tricks you can pull of to make it easier.
Regarding the protection, there’s one piton which I have placed there and also left it on the route. This time I had placed the protection in the beginning ready, a detail which I probably will try to change later and put everything on place as I go. Placing the protection doesn’t really affect to the difficulty except that placing the nut before the crux is rather heavy. This nut is DMM 3/4 and it has held well the falls which are probably around 4kN.
The weather was the best I could wish for. Around +7 degrees and little bit of wind. On the first try I fell in the crux and on the second time everything went just perfect. I was so tired after the send that I couldn’t even clean the route immediately after! The picture is from the crux where you have just made a bunch of really difficult moves and you truly need to believe that you can also pull off this one.
The cool thing about the route is that even though it’s really difficult it’s also safe as all the protection is good. So the challenge comes more from the physical than mental side. Even though it’s a crack route it’s more like climbing on holds because the crack gets so small in the crux that it’s not possible to jam it.
How would you compare it to your other hard ascents (Syncro, Speed, Essential)?
I’ve been thinking about this for a week and I’m still confused. The difficulty is always very hard to say for sure. Especially when you combine the effect of the weather and all the other things.
Syncro was totally different kind of route because it’s all about being able to push through the pump. For me it took about 3-4 days so for sure it felt easier.
Speed was also rather fast ascent and it suits my style well. If I remember right it took about 2-3 days on my fourth try.
Essential also suited my style and felt surprisingly easy. When I climbed it again on the second day it felt even easier. So very hard to compare.
You’ve been training a lot on this kind of moves and this route probably fitted your style well. Would you say it’s 8c+ or 9a?
For sure it’s not 9a but 8c+ it could be. This is of course only my own estimation and I would love if someone else would repeat it also and give their own opinion. The route is easily reachable and dries fast so the weather shouldn’t be a big challenge on this route. And for sure there’s more great climbing in Finland even though we don’t have big sectors around here. But overall there’s plenty of crags with high quality lines.
I chatted a while with the climber Olli-Petteri Manni, who was belaying Tomi on his route. Everyone who knows O-P is aware that he wouldn’t hype this route or its difficulty for nothing. Here’s some of his thoughts:
“We’re not talking about little bit challenging route here, but about extreme difficulty. If you compare Privatvägen to Syncro or to Kärlek in Bohuslän (8b trad) they are in totally different leagues. For Kärlek I did all the moves in one session but when I arrived to the crux of Privatvägen it just felt absurd. I couldn’t believe when I saw the holds he was pulling himself up from. I couldn’t do the moves at all and couldn’t even get myself to a positions where it might be possible.
It’s good to realise also that Tomi has been training pretty systematically on gaston-crimp moves with non-existing foot holds for the last 30 years. You can see from the pictures how hard you need to pull from the holds to be able to stick on them and the foot holds! Tomi looks like he’s going to explode. It’s just full power with no escape.
I truly hope that the word would travel and other climbers would come and test Privatvägen. It’s truly a world class route. “
The level where Tomi climbs has long been known among the Finnish climbing community and this achievement probably proves his level also on the international level.
The truth is that there isn’t too many trad routes of this level in the world and knowing Tomi’s level it wouldn’t be a surprise if this would go among the top ones. Here’s a list of some of the hardest trad routes in the world:
Tribe, Jacopo Lacher. (No grade, estimations vary between 8c+-9a+)
Echo Wall, Dave MacLeod. (No grade, estimation 8c+)
Recovery Drink, Nico Favresse. 8c+
Meltdown, Beth Rodden. 8c+
Blackbeard´s tears, Ethan Pringle. 8c+
Rhapsody, Dave MacLeod. 8c+
Anyway, currently tiny Finland has worlds hardest boulder problem and one of worlds hardest trad routes. Maybe someone could open a new 9c sport route also?
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