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Edu Marín Gets the First Free Ascent of His Longtime Project “Arco Iris” (5.14c, 200 meters), Montserrat

Marín---who has climbed many of the hardest multipitch lines in Europe---believes "Arco Iris" (5.14c, 200 meters) on Montserrat may be a contender for the most difficult on the continent.

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Marin on Arco Iris. Photo: Esteban Lahoz.

Edu Marín has managed to finish off one of his most ambitious projects by free climbing Arco Iris, a 200-meter-long six-pitch route with an 8c+ (5.14c) crux, in El Plàtan, on the north face of Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain.

Armand Ballart and German Folch established the route as an aid climb in
1979. The route runs along an exposed arete for 120 meters.

Montserrat has a unique style of climbing—technical routes predominate. Marín had already free climbed a route to the right of Arco Iris called Tarragó Plus (8c/5.14b, 240 meters) in 2016.

Before attempting to free Arco Iris, Marín asked permission from Armand
Ballart to install several additional bolts, thus minimizing the otherwise outsized risk. The original routes was equipped with old, now-obsolete gear. Marín wanted to respect the ethics of the route as much as possible while he updated the hardware, so added the minimum number of bolts to make the route safe.

[Also Watch Weekend Whipper: Edu Marín Takes A 40+ Footer On His Montserrat Project]

In the free ascent he clipped only the new bolts, since the old gear would not have withstood the falls—some of them up to 15 meters—that he faced.

A closer look at the rock on Arco Iris on Montserrat. Photo: Esteban Lahoz.

The breakdown of the six individual pitches is as follows: P1:6/5.10, P2:6c/5.11b, P3:8b+/5.14a,  P4:8c+/5.14c,  P5:8b/5.13d, P6:8a+/5.13c. The crux fourth pitch has only four bolts in its entire length. Marín bolted the sixth pitch from scratch to create a direct exit to the top of the Plàtan; the original line by Ballart and Folch instead goes right after the fifth pitch, skipping the last 20 meters to the top of Montserrat.

Marín finally sent the route on October 9, belayed by his father, Francisco “Novato” Marín. The pair took five hours to reach the top of the Plàtan.

Marín’s 8c+ proposal for Arco Iris makes it one of the hardest multipitch routes in Europe. Other contenders for that title include Nirwana (8c+?, 200 meters), Loferer Alm, Austria; and Zembrocal (8c+, 200 meters), Reunion Island, France. The latter has not been fully climbed, although the hardest pitch is considered 8c+.

Edu Marín’s experience with hard multipitch routes is extensive. His most difficult, Valhalla (9a+/5.15a, 390 meters) traverses the underbelly of the Great Arch in Getu, China. Marín bolted the line and made the first ascent in March 2019. It is thought to be the longest and hardest roof in the world.
Other hard multipitches on Marín’s resume include: Bellavista (8b+, 450 meters, the Dolomites, Italy, in 2013; Pan Aroma (8c, 450 meters), the Dolomites, Italy, in 2014; Viaje de Locos (8b+, 270 meters, Sardinia, Italy, also in 2014; Orbayu (8c, 500 meters), Picos de Europa, Asturias, Spain, in 2015; Wogü (8c, 250 meters), Rätikon, Switzerland, in 2016; and Mora Mora (8c, 700 meters), Tsaranoro, Madagascar, in 2017.

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