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Jonathan Siegrist on his second 15b: “fought like hell until the bitter end”

Q and A with J-Star following his ascent of La Planta de Shiva

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Another 9b! Jonathan Siegrist has climbed La Planta de Shiva, at Villanueva del Rosario, Andalusia, Spain, for his second 15b.

He remains “very, very excited still,” after sending the limestone-cave stamina fest May following three weeks of effort, telling us, “fought like hell until the bitter end.”

He calls the route “super, super resistant,” and wrote on, “Absolutely incredible route with no place to hide.”

His is a significant ascent in more than personal terms, the fourth: following the first ascent by Adam Ondra, in 2011, a repeat by Jakob Schubert in 2016, and an ascent by Angy Eiter, widely celebrated as the first 5.15b done by a woman.

Siegrist’s first at the grade was Chris Sharma’s 2008 (and 250-foot) masterwork Jumbo Love, on Clark Mountain, California, in May 2018. The second ascent of Jumbo Love was in 2015 by Ethan Pringle.

Siegrist working La Planta. So… guess how many 5.15s he has done? Now try to guess how many 5.14s. (Read to find out.) Photo by: Liz Rasnick

Also known as “J-Star,” Siegrist, 33 and living in Las Vegas, has accumulated an incredibly broad base of routes and consolidation. He has done 11 5.15s altogether and, if you count, 318 5.14s. Asked how many 5.13s he’s ever done (because this writer didn’t want to count them; I’d be here all day), he replies: “Probably less than you might imagine because I seem to like torture, and I don’t really have ‘easier’ days very often. But I would guess over 700 or something? 800? I have them all written down but never counted.”

He is also a dedicated first ascentionist, with at least 100 new routes to his credit.

Rock and Ice caught him at the end of his trip, to ask him about the send.

You wrote on Instagram about the “middle path” … the balance between wanting to do something so much, and then somehow freeing yourself of pressure. How?

Over the years I have tried to develop mental tools that I can use when I am in a situation like this—ways to talk to myself and ways to set up my expectations for the best possible outcome. For the most part these tactics help me find a balance, however, when powerful emotion comes up it becomes harder and harder to think logically, so it is always a tough road. Sometimes I nail it, other times I don’t.

With anything in life that we work really hard for and is ultimately uncertain, there is always an emotional rollercoaster!

You referred to the route being an absolute battle. Can you explain what happened?

After the hardest part of the route—a five-bolt traversing crux on tiny holds and poor feet—there is a horrible rest (actually this rest broke as Angy was trying the route and it was made even worse!). Under normal circumstances this spot would never be considered a rest, even on a route this hard, but due to the nature of the route it is a ‘rest,’ I suppose.

I had never reached this spot from the ground, but I was quite confident that I could finish as I had done many times on links from below. When I got the rest I saw that I had torn open my finger pretty badly fighting through the crux and I was bleeding enough to be concerned that I might slip off holds.

I knew that I would probably not be able to have another try on the route with a taped finger so I figured this was maybe my one shot. Not to mention this day was forecast to be one of the last good weather days for my trip.

“I seem to like torture.” Trying hard on La Planta. Photo by: Javi Pec

Despite having practiced the top many times it was an order of magnitude harder from the ground and I just fought like hell until the bitter end—I thought I could fall on even some of the very last moves. It was a completely amazing feeling being so close to failure and my body wanting to give up so badly but pushing through it.

Could you say what you learned from this and can take to the next thing?

I think it’s incredible how much longer we can hold on when the moment is right. I knew this was my chance, I knew that I had what it would take to finish the route and that my training had worked—but still it seemed completely impossible. I think I broke some kind of neuromuscular limiter in my body that day or something, haha. I really hope there will be another experience like this one for me one day.

How long are you in Spain for? Are you willing to say what your next goal or hope is? Maybe you will make it a 5.15 dozen.

I have a couple more days in Spain at this point. Since I sent La Planta I have been trying hard on some of the other amazing lines in the Cave here which has been super fun and motivating, but yesterday was actually my final climbing day. I always try to give myself a handful of days for just questing and tourist stuff at the end of a successful trip, so that’s my next goal!

Also read:

Siegrist Fills Up on “All You Can Eat,” 5.15a First Ascent in Nevada

Jonathan Siegrist Goes Big With Third Ascent of “Jumbo Love”

Jonathan Siegrist Sends Three 5.15’s in Three Weeks