Klemen Bečan sent Chris Sharma’s Papichulo (9a+ 5.15a) in Oliana, Spain this weekend, nabbing his second redpoint of the grade. “I thought I’d have to work hard,” he told Rock and Ice. “[But] this
time I surprised myself … It’s not as fun because if you don’t put a lot of energy into it, then you don’t appreciate it as much.”
Running up 150 feet of blue Spanish limestone, Papichulo is one of the most popular 5.15s in the world. Since 2008, when Sharma equipped and climbed
the route, at least fifteen climbers have sent it, including Adam Ondra, Jonathan Siegrist and Daniel Woods. In an interview with Rock and Ice, Siegrist described Papichulo as one of the most pumpy routes he’d ever climbed.
Woods also quantified the route’s difficulty,
saying it was “the most resistant route I have climbed on … [with] 50 meters, limited rests, perfect rock, sketchy slab outro ... [it] has everything.”
Bečan, 34 and originally from Slovenia, attempted Papichulo last winter after making the first ascent of Joe Mama (5.15a), an open project bolted by Joe Kinder in Oliana. The popularity of Papichulo, and thus the crowd of contenders, quickly turned him away. “Not so motivating for me,” he reported to 8a.nu.
“So I abandoned the project for a while.”
He returned this spring to find better conditions and fewer climbers attempting the route. He also felt stronger. “I was climbing much more outside.
Especially with Chris Sharma,” he says. “Now, with my wife, we’re renovating a house [in Spain], so we’re just climbing the bouldering wall in
the home. It’s good because I get to work a lot [on the house] and still climb a lot. I think that helped, and of course climbing with Chris.”
He took a rest day from construction for a go at Papichulo. In the end, he estimates he gave the route “altogether ten serious tries,” he
says, before finishing it off.
“I thought it would be like the process of Joe Mama when I had to try so many times,” he says.
Last year, Bečan made history in Chulilla, Spain, after anonsight first ascent of Siempre se Puede Hacer Menos (8c+ 5.14c), the second 5.14c onsight first ascent in the world. Since then, he’s based himself in Spain, spending as much time as possible in Oliana, where
he is “most inspired,” and working closely with Sharma on scouting new routes. Right now the pair are working on establishing a big wall route
up Mont-Rebei in Aragon, Spain with a possible difficulty of up to 5.14d.
In Sharma’s video about the Mont-Rebei project, Sharma said: “It’s been an awesome process to be up there with Klemen … You know, he’s one of the best climbers
in the world. And also one of the funnest guys to be around. His energy is contagious, just always having so much fun just laughing our asses off,
and trying this thing bit by bit.”
Bečan wrote on his blog, “When Chris asked me if I want to join him on Mont-Rebei expedition
where he had made crazy hard route some years ago, I was more than happy to take that chance.”
“But now it’s getting too hot, and Chris is with his baby, so unfortunately he doesn’t have too much time,” Bačan says. “I hope we will go back soon
because I feel in good shape and it would be a shame because I think we’re really close.”
Watch Sharma project Le Blond, Bačan send Joe Mama and Woods send Papichulo: