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First Ascent of Fantasmagoria (5.14a)

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Last June, Ricardo Vara claimed the first ascent of Fantasmagoria (5.14a), at El Salto, near Monterrey, Mexico. The film crew of All Inductive Media,
led by José Mario Borda, was there to capture the process.

Q&A with Ricardo VaraInterviewed by José Mario Borda (Translated from Spanish)

How is the climbing at El Salto?

It’s very overhanging, mainly the wall of Las Animas, but despite this, climbing is not all about effort and endurance in El Salto. It requires a lot of
technique and a lot of balance. The routes are very difficult to read, with tufas, underclings, pinches and slopers. Tufas are usually very good grips,
[but] tufas in El Salto are unique and require a little more strength and technique to take advantage of them on these routes.

El Salto for me is a very special place. I began to climb in 2001, but it was not until 2003 that I had the chance to come to the area, and at that time,
route development was just starting.

When I first visited the area, I was in a growth process where I was starting to make progress in the gym and it gradually reflected on the rock. I fell
completely in love with the place because I liked the style.

Could you talk a bit about Fantasmagoria?

Fantasmagoria is a route that I began in 2007 with my friend Arturo Martinez. In fact, that was the first time I had used a drill to equip a route. We
did not finish the route because a large slab of rock where I was anchored fell against my shoulder, and then bounced onto the cable of the drill,
cutting it.

For obvious reasons we did not continue developing the route and it remained so until 2012, when a Canadian climber Ulric Rousseau, who has developed routes
on that wall and in the area, helped finish the line. He used a different variation and linked it to the point where we had stopped a few years ago.
Personally I am happy to have finished the route.

What other projects do you have in El Salto? Does the area have potential?

In the canyon of La Boca, which is in the same area of El Salto, there is a wall that Alex Catlin began developing several years ago named “La Sabrosa.”
This crag has the potential to have several hard routes from 5.13+ and up. One weekend, we established a route that easily could be around 5.14-. This
would be my short-term project but due to the winter season approaching I will soon head to Potrero Chico and higher routes.

Video and interview by José Mario Borda