The French climbing legend Fred Rouhling has shown that age does not slow the best climbers by climbing a new 9a in southern France. Salamandre is an all-natural 32m route that was first bolted many years ago by a local climber and resides near Rouhling´s now home in Haute-Savorie. Fred Rouhling describes the route as:“after an 8a approach section, you arrive to a violent movement on a tiny one-finger pocket (Font 8A+/8B problem) and then directly into, without a rest, a third part which consists of a hard 8b+ route, poweful and „old school“… The one-finger pocket is tiny (half a phalanx) and also very high in the route (15 meters) that I could not feel it perfectly during the tries. I had to do a specific training (for numbness and force) on my „Güllich“ (campus board) on 1 cm edges… learning to dyno, nevermind the state of my fingers. It worked out pretty well and I did the section with numb fingers. I again took advantage of the natural force and strength of my fingers. I sent „Salamandre“ on a nice sticky morning (6°c). Was awesome… a few cafés, a little fire, quite a bit of tension in the air. I really like the extreme climbing and therfore I enjoy a lot these particular moments of uncertainty before the fight.““Salamandre“ is among my most extremes routes. Concerning „De l´autre cote du ciel“ and „Mandallaz Drive“ (his other 9a´s), most of the strong climbers who have tried them tend to think that they are more 9a+. I don´t know but I really prefer to keep in mind the uncertainty of such an ascent more than a grade emptied of any substance. „Salamandre“ is very hard, very specific, and very very.. what I want to do these days!“

Fred Rouhling on Salamandre. Photo by Fred Moix

Fred Rouhling is famed for his 9b grading of Akira, a route he climbed in 1995. Source: bouldering.info