Stefano Ghisolfi made the fourth-known ascent of Chris Sharma’s First Round, First Minute (9b/5.15b)
in Margalef, Spain yesterday. It was the Italian climber’s second 5.15b ascent, after Lapsus in Andonno, Italy, which he established in 2015.
“I enjoyed all the attempts,” Ghisolfi tells Rock and Ice. “[First Round, First Minute] is a short route and fun to climb, so I was not
stressed about this climb. I had no pressure because it was always fun to try it, even when I fell.”
Sharma made the first ascent of First Round, First Minute in 2011, and because of the short, bouldery nature of the 25-move climb, he
left it ungraded. Three years later, Adam Ondra nabbed its second ascent after 10 days of work. In an interview with Planet Mountain,
Ondra reported that he used the “easier” beta that Sharma later discovered to send the route, and Ondra suggested 5.15b for the grade. On December
31, 2015, on his last go of the year, Alex Megos sent First Round, First Minute for its third-known ascent.
Ghisolfi says he became inspired to try the climb last year after climbing Demencia Senil (9a+/5.15a) on the other side of Laboratori, the crag in Margalef that is also home to First Round, First Minute.
“I did [Demencia Senil] quickly on the first day of my second trip, so I had three days free for trying something else,” he says. “I knew
the route from a Chris Sharma video [see below], and it is one of the most popular 9b’s [5.15b’s] and a great line.”
Over the first few days, Ghisolfi worked the easier, left exit variation of First Ley (9a+/5.15a), which links the beginning of First Round, First Minute into Ley Innata. The linkup, also established by Sharma, skips the last hard boulder problem of First Round, First Minute. Ghisolfi
didn’t send that trip, but when he returned this year, he redpointed First Ley on January 9 after falling three times at the end.
After sending First Ley, Ghisolfi tried the finish to First Round, First Minute. “It took me two days to connect all the moves,
and then I start trying it from the ground,” he says. “I tried it for one more week and then I had to stop for three days because of the rain. After,
I sent it in humid conditions with Alex Megos belaying me!”
Ghisolfi’s ascent was Megos’ first 5.15b belay.
“When I sent it my climb was mostly controlled. I knew I had the chance to do it and I climbed it with no problems,” Ghisolfi says.
Overall, Ghisolfi estimates that he projected the climb for around 18 days, including his attempts on First Ley, but he’s not sure how many total
attempts it took. He usually gave it two or three tries a day, he says. He didn’t train specifically for the climb, but attributes his success to being
in good shape following the world cup competition season. “Fortunately training for competition let me be in a good shape for a long period,” he says.
Compared to Lapsus, a 5.15b linkup Ghisolfi established in 2015,
First Round, First Minute “is a totally different route,” he says. “FRFM is short and powerful, about 25 moves, [whereas]
Lapsus is a long, endurance route. I had more or less spent the same time and effort on the two routes. I had never done a 9b [5.15b] before
proposing that grade for Lapsus, but now that I experienced FRFM I strongly confirm my choice of my first ascent.”
Next, Ghisolfi is planning trips to Germany and England “to try two historical routes,” he says. “I'll reveal the details soon.”
Watch Stefano Ghisolfi sendFirst Round, First Minute (5.15b):
Watch Chris Sharma on the FA of First Round, First Minute (5.15b):