After 260 feet of climbing, 235 moves, 25 no-hand knee bar rests and an hour on route, Dani Andrada clipped the chains of Chilam Balam (5.15b)—claiming its fourth ascent. On the redpoint burn, Andrada broke a hold near the fourth bolt and split open his forehead. He continued climbing past the remaining 18 bolts, to the anchors, with blood streaming down his brow.
"It's possibly the most beautiful route I have done and the best in the world," Andrada told Spanish climbing magazine Desnivel.
Chilam Balam, at Villanueva del Rosario in the Andalusia region of Spain, has a colorful history. In 2003, Bernabé Fernández, who bolted the line, reported climbing the route and proposed the unprecedented grade of 9b+ (5.15c)—a claim that stirred the climbing world. At the time, no one had yet redpointed 5.15b.
Twelve years later, Adam Ondra made the first repeat of the route after only three days of projecting. In reference to the grade, he said, “I think it might be a normal 9b [5.15b], maybe even a low-end 9b, but definitely not 9a+ [5.15a]” in an interview with planetmountain.com. It took Ondra “somewhere in the region of half an hour,” he said, to climb the 80-meter monster.
Séb Bouin came away with Chilam Balam’s third ascent this May. He had been projecting the 22-bolt endurance test-piece with Andrada and Edu Marin this spring. Feeding off the momentum, Andrada’s motivation remained high and he pulled off the send this weekend.
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Desnivel calls Andrada’s redpoint the “third ascent” of Chilam Balam, and gives Fernández credit for equipping the route, but not making the first ascent. Third or fourth ascent, Andrada’s feat is impressive nonetheless.
At 40, Andrada is still at the top of his game. “Yeah, I'm so happy to stay at this level,” he tells Desnivel. “This year and last year I feel strong physically. I'm calmer, I try less hard routes…It's not like when I was young…but I feel very motivated and I feel good climbing.”
In total, Andrada has redpointed 3,480 routes 5.13b and harder, 27 of which are 5.14ds and above, according to Desnivel. He climbs 300-320 days a year.
Andrada hopes to finish La Rambla (5.15a) in Catalonia, Spain next.
Watch Adam Ondra Climb Chilam Balam (5.15a/b):