[Update (10/19/2015): Alex Megos reports on Facebook that the Pebble Project, previously thought to be 5.14c, seemed closer to 5.14b. While this still ranks among the hardest routes at the New River Gorge, it leaves room for another route to become the New’s first confirmed 5.14c. Megos has christened the Pebble Project Sputnik since his first ascent.]
Alex Megos has cleaned up the New River Gorge with first ascents of the area’s hardest projects— Pebble Project (5.14c) and Superpod (5.14d). Both are the first of their grade in the New, according to DPM Climbing.
Superpod adds a 15-foot V12 extension to Pod (5.13b), Megos says on Facebook. Pod climbs a steep series of roofs through slopey jugs and small edges. A DPM photo shows Superpod culminating with a wide rose move just before the chains.
BÄÄÄM! First 5.14d (9a) in the #newrivergorge Managed to climb the extension of “Pod” 5.13b (8a) adding a V12 boulder problem after the anchors making it “Superpod” 5.14d (9a)!!! Pic by Frank Kretschmann @patagonia_climb @dmm_wales @tenayaclimbing @redbulladventure @sterlingrope @entreprisesclimbing #cafékraft
A photo posted by @alexandermegos on
Megos crushed the Pebble Project just a few days later. Bolted by Chris Lindner in 2009, the project remained open and unclimbed for the past few years.
While these first ascents might be just a few more notches in Megos’ 5.14 belt, it raises the bar for the New River Gorge tremendously. The New’s hardest routes clocked in at 5.14b before Megos arrived, one of which he managed to flash, DPM reports.
Megos also added the Frankenjura’s hardest route to date, Supernova (5.15a/b), prior to his New River Gorge trip. His groundbreaking first ascents are blowing standards out of the water on an international scale, establishing him among the best as a visionary for the latest generation of hard climbing.
Watch Chris Lindner attempt the Pebble Project: