Basque climber Iker Pou has claimed the first ascent of Nit de Bruixes (5.15a) in Margalef, Spain. Alberto Lessmann documents this vertical victory with a series of stunning images.
The Pou Brothers have had a hectic schedule of first ascents during the last few months. Among the places conquered are El Niño (El Capitan, Yosemite), El Naranjo de Bulnes (Spain), Bravo les Filles (Madagaskar), The Totem Pole (Tasmania), Eternal Flame (Nameless Tower, Pakistan), Supercanaleta (Patagonia) and Azken Paradisua (Antarctica) – most of which were first ascents, or first free ascents.
Last winter, the Pou brothers travelled to Spain where Iker worked on the 9+ project Nit de Bruixes, falling twice from near the top of the route due to breaking holds. The route begins with a 5.14b section that leads to a three-bolt crux section of tiny pockets. He tried again earlier this year and then on January 24 they got lucky. Here is Iker’s report:
“Nit de Bruixes is located in the La Ermita sector of Margalef (Tarragona, Spain). It was opened in 2006 by the untiring Jordi Pou (no relation) – keeper of the mountain hut. Ever since, it has been awaiting its first ascent. I tried it for the first time towards the end of 2010. I realised then that it was a 'five-star' line that I wanted to ascend."
"I began immediately, practicing it in a sporadic way from December 2010 until February 2011. I was completely enchanted by the line. Some time in the middle of February, when I was very close to completing the route, a key slither of rock broke around the fourth bolt. That put an end to any hopes I had of ascending the route that season. After much work, and with the help of Jon Gurutz Lazkoz, we were able to fix the slither of rock, but I was unable to continue working on the route as we were embarking on other projects."
"Towards the end of December 2011, I returned to Margalef more motivated than ever. I got off to a disastrous start, however, with my tendons playing up to the point where I was unable to hold my weight without fear of doing myself an injury in one of my fingers. Fortunately, my luck changed, and in a few weeks I felt back on form. So, when I least expected it, on a cold windy day that seemed anything but promising, I succeeded in making the first ascent of Nit de Bruixes."
"The route is about 25m long. The first section is an overhang and requires some very physical climbing. It then gives way to a second more vertical section."
"Almost all of the holds – in the very best Margalef style – are one- or two-finger holds. The route could be divided into three parts. A first very physical part, followed by a boulder section of one-finger holds that barely hold the first knuckle of the finger."
"There is no rest in these sections and the route turns into a battle to save strength. The third section is a long, slightly inclining slab section which leaves no room for error."
"Personally, I found it harder than its neighbour Demencia Senil (9a+). But as all routes are different, only time will tell.”