Ghisolfi and Megos downgrade Bibliographie to F9b+
- Sunday 29th August 2021
Following his second ascent of Bibliographie, Stefano Ghisolfi has proposed a downgrade to F9b+ and Alex Megos has agreed!
“Bibliographie ✅ PLEASE DON'T WAKE ME UP, like in every fairy tale last day was actually the best day. I'm crying 😭😭😭” wrote Ghisolfi after doing the second ascent of Bibliographie at Ceuse last Tuesday.
Bibliographie was first climbed last year by Alex Megos after some 60 days of effort over three years. Considering Megos had taken a quarter of that time to do Perfecto Mundo (F9b+) at Margalef, proposing a grade of F9c for Bibliographie seems eminently reasonable. Alongside Adam Ondra’s Flatanger testpiece, Silence, Bibliographie became the world’s second route to be graded F9c.
Before we come to Ghisolfi’s thoughts on Bibliographie let's just back up and look at what lead him to this point. Stefano Ghisolfi spent a stint of time last year at Flatanger at the end of which he managed to do the second ascent of Ondra’s earlier testpiece route, Change F9b+. That was Ghisolfi’s second F9b+; his first was a 32-day second ascent of Perfecto Mundo. Ghisolfi’s Perfecto Mundo repeat in 2018 made him the fourth person to climb that grade after Ondra, Chris Sharma and Alex Megos. One year later, Jakob Schubert also repeated the PM adding his name to the F9b+ club.
Having made the second ascent of Bibliographie Ghisolfi reflected and then posted again talking about the effort involved in doing these various routes and the grades of them. Then, he dropped the bombshell that many had surmised might be coming; a downgrade to F9b+!!
Here’s what Ghisolfi said in full:
“Yesterday and the day before I wanted to focus more on my journey, the climb and the people around the story of Bibliographie, I avoided on purpose talking about grades but seems inevitable to do so. I took a day to think about it to find the right words. When I started trying Bibliographie I couldn't imagine I could climb it in one season, watching @Alexandermegos video the route seemed impossible and if it took him 60 days, I start projecting it thinking to come back over the years. In the end, I felt good on it from the beginning, found new beta for the crux (switching left and right hand compare to Alex), and new beta for the second crux. I climbed it in a total of 25 climbing days during this 3 months, and I tried to compared it to Change and Perfecto Mundo, changing my mind every other day. Change took me around the same time and Perfecto Mundo a bit more, but I feel all the 3 routes could fit all in the same grade range. I know I can climb a 9c, but for a route to be that grade it needs to be much harder than the existing 9b+s, and Bibliographie for me isn't. This doesn't mean I want to belittle the performance of anyone, neither Alex's or mine, it is still an incredible achievement (especially the first ascent that includes many more hard mental and physical aspects) but I just wanted to be honest about what I felt during the whole process on Bibliographie, and this is just my opinion, hopefully we will listen other soon. I would have been happy to be the third person to have climbed 9c, but I'm my heart I know I'm not (yet).”
Ghisolfi’s post was widely accepted for what it was, an honest assessment of the difficulty for himself of the various routes and what he thought the grade was of Bibliographie. It’s not unusual for grades to change after the first ascent. It’s well-known that the first ascensionist has the hardest job of all and that new beta is often found by those making subsequent ascents as knowledge about sequences is shared especially when videos are posted online. As more and more ascent of a route follows, the grade begins to settle down and although there can be outlier ascents/grades offered by some ascensionists’ a consensus begins to form.
Until further repeats of Bibliographie happened it seems as though its grade would remain uncertain. This morning, however, Alex Megos posted on his Instagram account agreeing with Ghisolfi’s proposed downgrade to F9b+. Here’s what Alex had to say, again in full:
What is the difference and how do you know which grade to give?
At the beginning I thought the number of days you invest in a climb is the best indicator of how hard it must be. Therefore I thought trying Bibliographie for 60 days must be harder than anything I've climbed before. When the word spread that I did the route people immediately started speculating.
I always had the feeling that 9c might not be the appropriate grade for the route, but I felt some pressure from the climbing world, which was already saying that it must be 9c if it took me 60 days.
I also didn't have a very good feeling for the grade anymore in the end, because I simply changed my beta so many times, I had such long breaks on the route and I was struggling to compare it with other routes I did. I underestimated how much of a difference it makes to know you have the right beta. On Bibliographie, I thought I had good beta until I came back a season later to completely change it again. And that happened twice. So in the end I probably spent the bigger part of 60 days figuring out beta, changing it again and not being sure that I can do it.
I became more and more convinced that it had to be harder than anything I'd ever done before.
When @steghiso and a few others started trying they found new beta for both cruxes. Both betas I hadn't tried when I was working on the route. I asked myself how can that be? I spent so many hours on just a few square meters of rock, I should have seen every option. I realized at some point I was so convinced that I had the right beta, that I stopped trying other things. I of course touched the holds of the new beta, but I never actually tried 100% to see if it makes sense. Every time I changed beta on the route it was mainly because I couldn't climb the previous beta. At a certain point I just decided that this will be the beta I'll climb it with and I stopped trying new things. I did succeed in the end, but I have learned something for the future.
I'm so grateful for your honest opinion Stefano! I agree with 9b+ and now I'll keep looking (with Stefano) for the next potential 9c 😉.”
Further ascents of the world’s hardest routes will inevitably build consensus. At this moment in time, however, it appears that Bibliographie will go forward as F9b+ until others chip in with their thoughts. That being the case, Ondra’s Silence at Flatanger is back to being the world’s only F9c. That however is subject to confirmation and change if and when it sees a second ascent! Having made the second ascent of Change last year perhaps Ghisolfi is in a prime position to attempt a repeat of Silence and hence be able to confirm, or otherwise, the grade! As it stands now, however, Both Megos and Ghisolfi have both climbed an amazing route at Ceuse, a route that is one of the world’s hardest and best. Their open discourse on grading, as with their climbing, is superb to witness – it makes climbing what it is, a true passion as well as an incredible sport!