Marieta Akalski of Toronto, Canada, has burst onto the sport climbing scene with a series of strong sends in Rifle, Colorado, including the classic Spray-A-Thon (5.13c)—becoming only the fourth women to climb the route after Lauren Lee, Emily Harrington and Lynn Hill—The Path (5.13c) and a five-try send of Tomb Raider (5.13d). She traveled to Rodellar, Spain, last week following her six-weeks in Rifle. Today she reports to Rock and Ice that she has sent her first 5.14a (Geminis) in Rodellar. Prior to her stint in Rifle, Akalski had been on a rope less than ten times in three years.
After a six-year break, Akalski began climbing again three years ago, mainly focusing on bouldering competitions. But an impromptu bouldering trip to Bishop, California, last winter made her realize her passion for outdoor climbing.
“That was the light bulb I needed to remind me why I climb,” Akalski wrote to Rock and Ice. “It was on that trip that I decided I was going to take a break from competing after the current season, save some money and hit the road to some of America’s best sport climbing destinations this summer. Rifle was on top of the list naturally.”
Akaslki explained how her mental and physical strength from competitions translated easily into sport climbing.
“I think the biggest way my competition climbing helped my sport climbing was mentally,” wrote Akalski. “I’m not the strongest person out there by far, but I do think I’m gifted in my mental ability. I know how to push past the point when you think you can’t anymore.”
Within two weeks of climbing at Rifle, Akalski sent her first 5.13c of the trip (Cryptic Egyptian). After sending The Path and Apocalypse, both 5.13cs, she moved toward the steep and powerful Spray-A-Thon.
“The whole time I had my eye on Spray-A-Thon,” said Akalski. “To do a route not many women do is very rewarding.”
Akalski, who said she sent all of the routes in less than eight tries according to Gripped magazine, then sent her first 5.13d (Tomb Raider) before taking her climbing tour abroad. She traveled to Rodellar, Spain, and will head to Kalymnos afterward. Her first goal was to send a 5.14a in Spain.
On September 26, she had written, “I believe I’m capable of sending 5.14. I couldn’t have said that four months ago.”
Today she notified Rock and Ice that after dealing with frustrating weather conditions, she has sent her first 5.14a, Geminis, in Rodellar.
“I’m pretty psyched,” she wrote.