Young British climber Buster Martin has climbed his first 9a+. This makes his the second British climber to climb the grade after living legend Steve McClure. First Ley is at the El Laboratori sector in Margalef. The route is a short 15 meter Chris Sharma classic, first sent back in February of 2010.
He announced the send on his insta. Buster first tried climbing the route in January, projecting it in February and April, then coming back again after training up to six days a week. Coming from a background of hard indoor climbing he has been used to short and challenging routes. “First Ley” starts on the first part of “First Round, First Minute” 9b, then cross over, linking up with with “La Ley Innata” 8c+ for the last section. He powered through the first section, skipping the fifth quickdraw. At this point there is a cutaway move – giving the potential for a possible ground fall – as can be seen in the Instagram video he posted.
The cliff is a long and steeply overhanging section of rock that offers a large amount of high grades sports routes. At 23 years old Buster Martin is the seventh climber to do the route and it seems like the style and power suited him. Other 9a+ routes tend to be more power-endurance, featuring long and sustained hard moves vs the insanely hard but shorter style here.
Chris Sharma commented that Buster “…needs to try the harder exit” i.e. the 9b the route starts on. Since then, Buster has posted on insta that he had a play on the “First Round, Fist Minute” 9b and plans to train and come back! From his latest insta post – “I couldn’t help myself but have a play on First round 9b. It adds another boulder (Maybe 7C) after the crux on first ley. Id always seen 9a+ as the ultimate goal in my climbing but I’m hungry for a further battle and to take things up a step. Time to hit the training harder and smarter than ever”. It looks like a long winter of training is in store for the young crusher.
This is Buster’s first 9a+ and he has previously only climbed one 9a route, the famous “Rainshadow” in Malham Cove. Other ascents include “Bat Route” 8c when he was 15, becoming the youngest Brit to climb the grade. He took a four year break from focusing on climbing in his late teens to enjoy other things but came back in top form. UKC have a great article with more from Buster on the route.