Blind Climber Javier Aguilar Sends 5.12d!
Never again do you get to complain about invisible footholds!
On Tuesday, June 16 Javier Aguilar made history when he clipped the chains on To Su Puta Madre a Caballo in Los Cahorros, Granada, Spain, becoming the first totally blind climber to send 7c (5.12d) on lead. Yes, you read that correctly: 5.12d blind and on lead. Never again do you get to complain about invisible footholds.
Aguilar first worked To Su Puta Madre a Caballo on top rope, needing just 10 attempts to memorize the beta. He worked out a few more kinks his first time on the sharp end. “I had extended a few draws but couldn’t make the clips, causing me to whip,” he says. On his second go, he took it to the chains.
Prior to this, Aguilar’s best-known successes have come in competition settings—climbing and otherwise. He made back-to-back podium appearances at the 2018 and 2019 Paraclimbing World Cup and is a former Paralympic swimmer.
Speaking to his accomplishments, Aguilar says, “I love big projects because they fill me with memories of my surroundings, of my body, and, well, it’s good for me to do that work.”
When asked about grades, he insists “it’s more about self-growth than upping the ante.” That his recent send served only to better his own record of 7b/+ (5.12b/c) set in 2017 is testament to this fact.
Despite rarely climbing on the sharp end, Aguilar reveals that it’s not falling so much as getting caught in the rope that scares him. Thanks are due, he says, to his belayer Migue Sancho for helping him avoid this as much as for helping him work out sequences.
Keep an eye out for the next issue of Gym Climber for more on Aguilar’s process and feat. Meanwhile, check out Episode 90 of Spanish-language podcast Rock & Joy for an exclusive interview.
Christopher Schafenacker lives in Granada, Spain, where he writes, climbs and runs education-centered training camps for competitive youth climbing teams.