On back-to-back days this weekend, two Colorado climbers sent La Rambla (9a+/5.15a) in Siurana, Spain.
Matty Hong and Margo Hayes, on Saturday and
Sunday, ticked off the benchmark 5.15a sport route, adding to what could be one of the greatest weekends in climbing history.
“I was first drawn to La Rambla because of its historical significance,” Hong tells Rock and Ice, “but besides that, it’s a really great
line with interesting movement and stunning beauty. I enjoyed every second on this one.”
La Rambla is Hong’s second ascent of the grade. In March of 2016, he bagged his first 5.15a with Chris Sharma’s Papichulo (5.15a) in Oliana. He kept his momentum rolling, and in September, made the first repeat of Jon
Cardwell’s Fat Camp (5.14d) in Rifle Colorado—a
contender for the hardest climb in the canyon. The following month, over one weekend, he sent Shadowboxing (5.14d) in Rifle and Kryptonite (5.14d) at the Fortress of Solitude.
This winter, Hong set his sights on La Rambla as the first goal of a two-month climbing trip in Spain. Rock and Ice caught up with Hong
to hear more about his ascent and time in Spain.
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Q&A with Matty Hong
How long did project La Rambla for, and what was the crux for you?
I tried the route for the first time last year, but only to experience the route and see what it was like. When I arrived in Spain on February 10 this
year, I had planned for it to be my first goal of a two-month trip. It took me about three weeks of work.
I was able to climb to the upper crux fairly quickly, but soon realized the boulder problem at the end would be the determining factor of sending the route.
With each day I progressed a move further into the crux before finding myself clipping the anchor. I knew it was possible as I felt quite confident
on the moves, and that it was just a matter of attempts before sending. Confidence was key in working a route of this grade and length.
What was it like to work the route with Margo Hayes and Jon Cardwell?
It’s always motivating to work a route with strong climbers, especially people who I am close with. Jon and I have been climbing together for a decent
amount of time now, and we are familiar with each other’s strengths and feed off one another’s psyche well.
This was the first time that I have climbed with Margo outdoors, however. To put it lightly, climbing with her was totally inspiring. Not just because
of her strength on the rock but also for her relentless drive to get the job done. Numerous times while she was climbing, Jon and I would glance at
each other with the “holy shit” look on our faces.
She is going to achieve great things in the future and I hope I can be there again to witness these moments in climbing’s history.
Did you all share beta? Feed off each other’s energy?
We all talk about the climb in our own way. It’s become a different route for each of us, since we have different cruxes and use completely different beta
in many places on the climb.
However it doesn’t stop us from giving insight to one another about how we think it’s best for the other to approach the climb. We know each other well
enough to understand each strength and weakness we may have.
Outside opinions are crucial in sending hard climbs. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when working something by yourself. Even if your beta is completely
different from someone else’s, it’s nice to hear “you look strong on that move” to build confidence.
Do you feel as if Margo’s ascent overshadowed your own, since they occurred on back-to-back days?
Not at all. If anything the support has been overwhelming. I am very happy with my ascent but her feat deserves the attention it has gotten.
What was the best part of the overall experience?
I think the most powerful takeaway from this experience has been the response from the climbing community and beyond. To be a part of climbing history,
along with witnessing the influence we might have on this sport, is totally humbling and perhaps the most rewarding feeling we could ask for.
How long will you be in Spain?
We are about halfway through our trip in Spain. After another week here in Siurana, we will move to Organya and climb in Oliana for the remainder of the
trip. I am looking forward to trying another 9a+ [5.15a] there. Which one is still to be determined—the choices are overwhelming.
Besides the climbing goals mentioned above I have a few film projects that I am looking forward to working on. Photography and videography are another
great passion of mine and combining these with climbing is something I want to do for the foreseeable future.
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