Julien Nadiras in Tonino 78
Picture Amanda Bellina from E9
On October, 2 nd , 2004 , Julien Nadiras sent what is supposed to be the hardest bouldering problem in the World : Tonino 78 in Meschia ( Italy ) for which Mauro Calibani proposed 8c+ (FB). Zebloc interviewed Juju a few days after this fantastic climb.
Zebloc : First of all, congratulations for your ascent of Tonino 78. It seems to me that you already sent the problem before a hold broke, didn’t you?
Julien Nadiras : Yes, I climbed the Sit-Down-Start version in September 2003 before the hold broke. What used to be a sloper with a little crimp is now only sloper. But it doesn’t change so much the difficulty as it is the first move of the SDS, especially if you like slopers. But if you start from the bottom of the boulder (Tonino 78), then it makes it much harder, because you have to climb some intense moves before getting here.
Zebloc : How long did you work on that new version?
Julien Nadiras : Since we made the SDS with Mauro Calibani and Olivier Lebreton, I spent about 25 days on this problem (more or less same as Mauro), during 4 journeys to Meschia. The last time, in September, I’ve had bad sticking conditions. As the boulder is oriented to the south, the grips didn’t cool down, even in the evening. So, last week, I had to begin my tries from 7.30 a.m. on! Therefore, I had many days falling in the middle of the boulder because I wasn’t able to make the moves anymore or because I didn’t have any chalk left on my hands. Bloody hell !
Zebloc : What do you think about the grade?
Julien Nadiras : Wow !! I don’t know. When you work hard on a boulder, sometimes it looks impossible but when you send it, you can feel so easy. So I don’t know what to think about it. I rely on Mauro, who is really strong in that style of climbing. I‘ve never done any 8c, so I can’t tell you if it is harder or not. But it looks like Tonino 78 is really harder than Dreamtime : Mauro says that it is a different sport! Then is it a bit harder or very much harder? And this is where the difference lies between 8c and 8c+. But in any case the grade can’t be below 8c! This boulder has been such a fight for me that I cannot easily give you a judgment. I will have to climb in that boulder again without pressure…
Zebloc : How was it possible for you to work a boulder in a closed area?
Julien Nadiras : I’ve been climbing in Meschia for 3 years thanks to Bertrand Lemaire (former Fontainebleau climber who now lives in Roma) who contributed in developing the area. I’ve known the owner of the area before it has been closed. Before the climbers discovered the place, the ground was covered with moss and now it has disappeared and there is only dirt left between the boulders. And this really is a problem for the people who harvest chestnuts there. As the climbers didn’t care about this problem, the owner decided to close the area to the climbers. Even Mauro tries not to climb there.
For Tonino 78, it is less a problem because there is no chestnut tree around. But you have to ask Mauro to climb there, and he will ask the owner.
Nevertheless, it’s absolutely forbidden to climb there from October 1 st to November 15 th , because it is the harvest season.
Zebloc : Do you use the same methods than Mauro?
Julien Nadiras : Excepted for one hand and one foot moves, we use the same methods.
Zebloc : Can you tell us about the boulder and the hard moves?
Julien Nadiras : The boulder looks like a big warhead on which you have to climb with a lot of ‘compressive’ strength. You just have one move with a toe hook. There is a stand-up start, called » Léonardo da Vinci » which is about 7c+. The Sit-Down-Start is about 8b+. But if you really look at the bottom of the boulder, you will find two big holds that constitute a logical start.
That boulder is really magnificent with incredible roc and holds that you cannot find anywhere else. All the holds are round shaped and ergonomic. Tonino 78 is 15 moves long for Mauro and 14 for me. It is not a 20 moves boulder as a lot of people think. It is a real boulder problem, demanding great precision on every move and, of course, strength and friction in order to hold the holds that are all elusive. But the key to success is to climb fast: you have to jump from hold to hold with a lot of precision.
The hardest move is the long reach in the middle of the boulder where you have to clamp a bad pinch and put an aleatory heel hook. When you come from the bottom, it is really hard. I felt about 20 times there!
After that, you still have the hard move of the stand-up version, with a three finger sloper and a heel-hook that rejects you from the boulder, and you have to catch a not so bad crimp.
All this without mentioning the moves in between that are very demanding for abdos and where you have to move very quickly if you don’t want to burn out. Tonino 78 is a hell to link. You cannot make any mistake, or you fall.
Zebloc : Do you have new goals?
Julien Nadiras : Imhotep SDS (in Fontainebleau/Bas Cuvier). If you compare it to Tonino 78, it is more or less like comparing 8a and 7a! Well, there is almost no chance that I send it this year but I will send it someday! There is also a route in Meschia (8a+/8b), short, bouldery, but in which you have to place your pros. In Meschia, there is a bunch of nice routes without any bolt : trad-climbing like in England . Nice ethics.
Many thanks to IronShoulder for helping me translate the interview!