This Saturday, Nika Potapova and Fedir Samoilov of Ukraine sent Fuck the System, a 9a (5.14d) in Santa Linya, Spain. The 30-meter route saw its first ascent in December 2007 by the Spanish climber Patxi Usobiaga.
Potapova is the 22nd woman to climb 9a, and at only 16 years old, is the first Ukrainian woman to break through the ninth-grade barrier. Her IFSC world ranking is 32nd, while Samoilov—21 years old—stands in 23rd, and can now add this climb to the other three 9a’s already under his belt. In 2017, Potapova came in 12th in the European Youth Cup, while Samoilov placed ninth in the Lead World Cup in Xiamen, China in 2018.
Potapova climbed her first 5.14b (8c) in 2016, with Strelovod, Mišja Peč, Slovenia. She only added her second at the grade in January earlier this year, when she climbed La Fabelita, Santa Linya, Spain.
Impressively, she skipped the 5.14c grade entirely.
Potapova also has a slightly more esoteric claim to fame: she is the women’s world-record holder on the Zlagboard hangboard. Back in 2017, Potapova clocked a time of 2 minutes 2 seconds 94 milliseconds on the 2-centimeter edges of the Zlagboard. In addition to the best time recorded by a woman, hers is to-date the 11th best time logged by anyone. The current world-record holder is none-other than Ramon Julian Puigblanque with a time of 2 minutes 44 seconds 35 milliseconds. Other big names in the top ten include Alex Megos (2 minutes 22 seconds 89 milliseconds) and Stefano Ghisolfi (2 minutes 9 seconds 66 milliseconds).
Josune Bereziartu was the first woman to climb 5.14d, with Bain de Sang (Blood Bath), in St. Loup, Switzerland in 2003. In February 2017, Margo Hayes upped the bar again, becoming the first woman to climb a 5.15a when she sent La Rambla, Siurana, Spain. While the temporal gap separating the first woman to log a 5.14d and the first to log a 5.15a was some 14 years, the time we had to wait for a woman to climb 5.15b was negligible by comparison. In October 2017, just half a year after Hayes’ tick of La Rambla, the Austrian climber Angela Eiter redpointed La Planta de Shiva (9b/5.15b), Villanueva del Rosario, Spain.