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Alex Megos Interview

Known to be the first climber ever to onsight 9a - David Naude interviews Alex Megos during his trip to South Africa.
Alex Megos Interview

How old are you?
23 (born August 12, 1993)

Where are you currently living?
Erlangen, Germany

How and when did you start climbing?
About 18 years ago when I was 5/6 years old

Who are your sponsors?
Wow, I’ve got quite a few (laughing) Patagonia, Tenaya, Red Bull, DMM, Sterling Rope, Entrepises, Friction Labs, Vertical Life as well as my gym Café Kraft

Patagonia is now exclusively available in South Africa through Gone. Outdoor Supply Co.

You can find Alex on Facebook & Instagram

Alex Megos Interview
Alex on his first ever bouldering trip in a magical place called Rocklands. It was an unforgettable experience. It was the year 2012.

What are the top 3 climbing destinations in your opinion?

Ah, that’s always a terrible question! At least you gave me three options (laughing) Well obviously destination number one is Frankenjura but that’s just because I come from there, no, it actually has some really good climbing, I also really like Australia and Bishop.  And I guess South Africa is really cool too although I can’t say for sure cause I haven’t been to all the other climbing areas around the country.

Do you follow a specific diet?
Not really, I just try to eat healthy and cook as much food myself as I can.

What brought you to South Africa and what do you think of it so far?
Well and airplane brought me here (laughing) but I’ve just heard about it for so many years, this is my first trip and back in 2012 I tried to do a lot of the 8a and 8a+ boulders, then I came back in 2014 and di a lot of the 8b and 8b+ boulders and now I’m trying the 8c’s

Do you ever train for a specific route or problem?
Hmm, very rarely, I did that for Lucid Dreaming but apart from that I train for a style of climbing rather than a specific route or problem.

Alex Megos Interview
“What?! That went faster then expecting! First day here in Rocklands and already sent “Monkey Wedding” after just half an hour of working out the moves!
Did try it 3 years ago for half a day but thought I was too weak. This trip it didn’t feel very hard at all! Totally suites my style I guess. Super excited for more!”
Photo: @natachajagd


Do you play any other sports? From what I’ve seen most climbers are pretty uncoordinated…
Very true! I definitely don’t do any sports that involve some sort of ball… I enjoy running and occasionally go skiing and I like gymnastics a lot.

What has been your favorite problem you’ve sent in Rocklands so far?
Hmm that’s a hard question, hopefully I’ll send my favorite problem tomorrow…

You sent Monkey Wedding pretty quick this trip, how does it compare with some of the other hard boulder problems you’ve done?
I haven’t really sent that many hard boulders… the only really hard one I’ve sent was Lucid Dreaming which is a completely different style, the holds are much smaller and there are only three of them but I think Monkey Wedding suited my style very well and the holds are surprisingly good for an 8c, what makes it hard are the strange body positions.

Alex Megos Interview
What a battle! Sometimes things just take a while but when they happen it’s even more rewarding! After 5 us of work I did the first repeat of “The Finnish Line” put up by @nalle_hukkataival a few weeks ago! Maybe the best line of all time?!
Photo Ken Etzel


Do you have any intentions of jumping on Nalle’s Livin Large or The Finnish Line this trip?
Livin Large not this trip, I walked to it and first of all its really high which is good cause you can work it on a rope alone but the problem is its far to walk and bakes in the sun the whole day. The Finnish Line is more accessible and I’m hoping to send that tomorrow. (Update and he did!!)

Who was your climbing hero when you were growing up?
Well I guess every kid had Chris Sharma and meeting him for the first time in 2011 was pretty cool, he signed my back pack and from that day on I never used the backpack ever again!

What is the worst epic you’ve had?
I was on a multipitch with Sonnie Trotter in Canada it took us 24 hours and it took us long because we had a photographer who wanted to take photos of us on the crux pitch which was 8b and we ended up rapping down and climbing up again and again, and it ended up being quite a hassle.

Alex Megos Interview
Checked out one of the new areas today here in Rocklands and found this thing here with @nedfee and @shaunacoxsey.
“Guest List” 8B.


Have you ever had an injury which has prevented you from climbing for a while?
Yes, I had inflammation in my tendon starting last December and I had to take a few months off, and this is the first trip where I don’t feel it.

What precautions do you take to insure you don’t get injured?
Hehe, I always just try to warm up well and take many rest days

What has been the most memorable route/problem you’ve sent to date?
Action Direct, although it only took me one day to climb it, usually routes that take you more days are often more memorable, it was just the coolest moment.

I’m sure you’ve answered this question 100 times before but what did it feel like to onsight the world’s first 9a route?
Hmm, a few weeks after it felt really bad because it was loads of work, there were so many interviews and I wished I had done it at the end of the trip instead of two days in (laughing) but afterwards it was really cool because from one day to the next I got many more sponsors and am able to make a living off climbing. I actually onsighted my second 9a recently which I thought would never happen again.

Alex Megos Interview
Second day in Waterval Boven. “Climbed a few world class routes with a world class view too!
Can you spot the climber?!”


What do you find drives your climbing passion and keeps you motivated for the projects and trips ahead?
I think just the fact that I want to keep improving, my passion is driven by the fact that I want to keep getting stronger and improve my climbing, that’s definitely what keeps me motivated

This is you’re second trip to Rocklands correct? How does this trip compare to the last trip, in terms of development and new lines you’ve seen and tried?
When I thought I was coming back to Rocklands I thought I only had two things left, Livin Large and Monkey Wedding, but when I arrived a found that there are just new boulders popping up everywhere and its crazy that the areas that where new 3 years ago are now old and there are just so many new areas. There’s just so much rock!

We all know how fussy you are with the condition of your skin, what are your top tips to keep your skin in shape for the sharp Rocklands rock?
Ohh that could take hours! I always get splits in the joins of my fingers and it gets worse in a dry climate like here. I always tape it over night with cream under the tape and leave the tape until you climb and then you remove the tape and put on the climbing tape, leaving a split moist makes it heal much faster.

Alex Megos Interview
Alex preparing his fingers for climbing in Waterfall Boven. “Superglue is just amazing stuff!”


Have you been to any of South Africa’s climbing gyms yet, and If not, will you be?
Unfortunately not…

What is your favorite training tool eg) Beastmaker?
I really like the Beastmaker and all the holds are very comfortable to hold and they get you super strong if you use them correctly and I also enjoy training on the rings.

What is your favorite Gym you have visited?
I really like Café Kraft, my home gym because it’s got a 45 degree wall with small wooden holds that are awesome to use but many of the gyms in Germany are good, as well as the Climbing Works in Sheffield is absolutely amazing.

On the Rocklands topic, how does Rocklands compare to the rest of the bouldering in the world, eg) Font, Bishop?
It’s very much up there. I haven’t visited many of the bouldering destinations as I’m more of a sport climber but I definitely think Rocklands is at least as good as Bishop or the Grampians.

Alex Megos Interview
Alex checking out an open project at the Superbowl in Waterval Boven. It turned out to be not just possible but also one of the coolest FA’s I’ve ever done!
“A Life in Orange” 35 (8c+)!!! Great name for a great route!
Photo Ken Etzel


What is your opinion on the world cup circuit and other formal competitions and will you be competing in any this year?
I haven’t competed for 5 years but I’d like to compete in a few competitions but I don’t really know if I like it or not just because the new world cup boulders are so insane and I don’t think I’d be very good at that style.

Alex Megos Interview
Alex at the chains of Rodan. Photo by Gustav van Rensberg

What plans do you have for the next few trips this year?

I’ll stay in Europe for most of the year and there is a competition in Montreal which I’ll be going to and I’ll Spain in winter and train a bit.

What do you enjoy about sport climbing and bouldering alike?
You can push your limits, whether its sport climbing or bouldering you can always find something harder and there is always something new to try.

Alex Megos Interview
Taking a victory whip on my first day here in #waterfallboven after clipping (and unclipping) the anchor of “Rodan” 33 (8b+) at the God No! Wall. Photo Ken Etzel


Although you have repeated many of the world hardest routes, you have also made many cutting edge first ascents. Tell us how it feels to find a line such as Fightclub and send it?
Sometimes its just about being at the right place in the right moment, sometimes you’re not necessarily looking for something but it comes to you and you might try all the projects and they are all terrible or maybe there is one that isn’t and it ends up being super hard.

What is your training schedule like and what do you think is the key to success in climbing?
I think the key to success is that everyone needs to find their own training schedule, what works for me might not work for someone else and visa versa.

Do you currently have a coach or personal trainer?
Yes, I’ve had the same two coaches for over 10 years now, Patrick Matros and Dicky Core who wrote the Gimme Kraft training book.
What plans do you have for the rest of your trip to South Africa?
I want to do the Finnish line and then explore some of the new areas and then just spend a week in Boven and then we fly out on the 6th of August.

Alex Megos Interview
A little bit of Safari on our last day in Waterfall Boven! Thanks so much Gus for giving us the tour!
It’s been an incredible experience!

More about Alex (from Wikipedia):

He is considered to be the first climber ever to onsight a route graded 9a. He has won many international competitions and has climbed many hard routes; he repeated “First Round, First Minute” (9b/15.b) and “Lucid Dreaming” (8C/V15) in bouldering.

Redpointed routes

9b (5.15b)

  • Fightclub – First Ascent.
  • First Round First Minute – Third Ascent. First Ascent by Chris Sharma.

9a+/b (5.15a/b)

  • Supernova – First Ascent.

9a+ (5.15a)

  • Demencia Senil – First Ascent by Chris Sharma.
  • La Rambla – Megos climbed it on his second try.
  • Realization – First Ascent by Chris Sharma. Megos climbed it in one day, on his third try.
  • Corona – Third Ascent.
  • Classified – First Ascent.
  • Modified – First Ascent.
  • First Ley – Megos also sent a variation called La Ley Indignata 9a (5.14d), possible first ascent.
  • Thor’s Hammer – First Repeat. First Ascent by Adam Ondra.
  • Geocache – First Ascent. Repeated by Adam Ondra.
  • Becoming – First Ascent.
  • Super Crackinette – First Ascent.

9a (5.14d)

  • Action Directe – Megos sent this route in just two hours. Action Directe was the world’s first 9a, and continues to be a benchmark for the grade.
  • Pasito a Pasito – March 2017 – FA of the first south american 9a in Valle de los Condores, Chile.
  • Hubble – Megos became the first to climb both Action Directe and Hubble by sending Hubble in June of 2016.
  • Dreamcatcher – Fourth Ascent. Climbed in one day, other previous ascents by Chris Sharma, Sean McColl and Ben Harnden took multiple days.

Other Famous Ascents

  • Pure Imagination: 8c+ (5.14c). Flash.
  • Fly: 8c (5.14b). Megos made the first free ascent of this twenty pitch big wall in Switzerland.
Alex Megos Interview
Ken Etzel taking photos of Alex at the “God No! Wall” in Waterfall Boven!
Thanks @rocnrope_gus for capturing the moment! Photo: Gustav Van Rensburg


Onsighted routes

9a (5.14d)

  • Estado Critico – World’s first 9a onsight.
  • “TCT” (Alex’s second 9a onsigh) in Gravere in Italy – sent in the Spring of 2017.

8c+ (5.14c)

Victimes del Passat


9a+ (5.15a)

  • Wheelchair – First Ascent. While Megos suggested a sport climbing grade because of its length, this Wheel of Life variation is not a sport climb. Possible 8C+ (V16).

9a (5.14d) or 8C (V15)

  • Wheel of Life: – First Ascent by Dai Koyamada.

8C (V15)

  • Lucid Dreaming – Third Ascent of Paul Robinson’s boulder, originally graded 8C+ (V16).
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