In this week’s guest blog, SCARPA athlete Ted Kingsnorth takes us through his latest project – Photoshot – an 8b in Margalef, Spain which he has recently completed on his latest trip to Spain. Here he takes us through his journey to get to that point.
“I’ve recently arrived back in the UK after the second of two recent trips to Margalef with the aim of finishing off the famous route ‘Photoshot’, one of the classic 8bs of the Laboratori sector (or the ‘Lab’), home to other well known routes routes such as First Round, First Minute, Sharma’s infamous 9b testpiece.
Photshot was a route I had come close to doing on a trip over New Year in 2019, falling off at the last bolt, but which I had not managed to complete. Despite repeated efforts I couldn’t get back up to my highpoint, unfortunately being spat off on the upper crux numerous times.
Photoshot tends to be done fairly quickly by those used to steep roof climbing… or not at all! Having returned to Margalef before Christmas in 2021, I had expected to finish it off but had not geared my training correctly for the powerful nature of the moves and decided to try other long, more endurance based routes instead. This time around, I was determined to train hard with Photoshot specifically in mind.
Photoshot is right by the road leading to the dam where the campsite is situated and takes a line up a very steep roof. In fact, it is nearly horizontal for the first few moves, starting from a stone cairn in order to reach the first jug. The first 3 bolts feature athletic climbing on jugs which are very far apart; the first move in particular is easiest if you go feet off and campus!
This style of climbing is something I have rarely done much of so it was challenging to get it wired to the point where I could do it every time. The crux of the route is passing the 3rd bolt and involves a massive throw off a crimp and an undercut to a distant jug. I fell here dozens of times this trip before I managed to break though to the upper moves again for the first time since 2019 where the angle eases back to a more reasonable 45 degrees overhanging.
The upper crux is by the 6th bolt where you have to reach to a shallow 3 finger pocket for your left hand above an overlap and then stab into a sharp 2 finger pocket followed by a deep mono which enables you to reach a good pocket for the left hand used to clip the last bolt. Its really hard to maintain tension through your feet to execute these tricky moves when pumped and I fell at the overlap once again, yet hopeful that the route now seemed to be within reach.
Finally at the end of March towards the end of my second trip out there this year, I had hit on my ideal method to get through the lower crux more reliably and was falling off the upper crux, tickling the mono on one occasion but not actually holding it.
After 3 rest days, I headed to the Lab, confident and with good conditions. After a good fight, I made it to the mono and clipped the last bolt. I was finally back to my highpoint of 2019 and thought I was going to do it! Unfortunately, on the very last move, I fell off too pumped to reach the jug on the top slab which you reach to haul over to the belay. I kicked myself afterwards when I discovered a nearer pocket that I could have more easily reached lower than the jug that was unchalked.
Not discouraged, I kept trying but with the weather hotting up and the early starts needed to get the best conditions proving challenging to get partners (nobody seemed to be climbing at the Lab any more!) it was looking doubtful whether I would get many more chances.
Thankfully, I got another shot and in the last few days of my trip, managed to clip the anchors and close my account with Photoshot. The discovery of a good kneebar below the overlap proved the key to success and meant I was less pumped on the upper crux and topout moves. Also, climbing right at the end of the day when the route had come back into the shade and with a good support crew shouting encouragement was really helpful.
Completing a long term project is always a good feeling, especially one that is in a different country. Being finally free to try other things more in my usual style of crimps on gently overhanging walls is liberating. I don’t regret spending so long on one route as I feel I’ve learnt a lot about roof climbing during the whole process, which I will use on future projects. For the next few trip to Spain, I think I’ll focus on onsighting or ‘in a day’ projects. Good luck on your projects out there, especially those far from your home crag, venga!”