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Words With Alberta Sender Sara Frangos

Sara Frangos is one of Canada’s top young climbers and she recently sent her first 5.13d. We touched base with her this week.

What have you been up to since winning Nationals this spring? The National Championships in May marked the end of an era, as it was the last competition of my youth career. Since then, my focus has shifted from training for competitions to training and climbing outside. So far my summer has revolved around work and enjoying the outdoors. I have been working at the climbing gym at Elevation Place, teaching summer camps and other youth programming and when my schedule and the weather permits, I’ve been heading to the crags and hitting the trails with a combination of outdoor sport climbing, running and mountain biking.

Sara Frangos at Nationals.
Sara Frangos at Nationals.

Where have you put most of your time this summer outdoors? The main crags I have been climbing at are Acephale, the Lookout and Planet X, although I have also put in a couple of days at Lake Louise and one trip up to Bataan at the very beginning of the season .

Did you have any projects this year on rock? I began my season ticking off some older climbs that I hadn’t gotten on for years like Jingus Americanus 5.12d up at Acephale and Incomplete 5.12c and Complete 5.13a at Lake Louise. Coming into the summer I didn’t have any specific climbs picked out to project so when I would get to the crag I would get on whatever was getting me psyched and worked on those as sort of mini projects. I enjoy doing mini projects or climbs that take me a few sessions but don’t turn into epics because it allows me to have things to do at pretty much every crag in the valley and I don’t get bored or frustrated with throwing myself at a single climb day after day.

You recently sent Buffet Royale at the Lookout. How many 5.13c or 5.13+ routes have you ticked? Before travelling to Europe in September, I had sent a single 5.13a outside. Over the course of my trip I saw some massive improvements in my confidence and literacy climbing outdoors and have since managed to tick somewhere around 15 5.13s since. My hardest send on my trip was Lola Extension 5.13c in Rodellar, so Buffet Royale marked my second of the grade. Then just yesterday, I surprised myself with a fairly quick send of Endless Summer 5.13d which was my first of the grade and is my hardest outdoor send to date.

How long did you project Buffet Royale? Buffet Royale went down more quickly then I ever would have anticipated. Somehow I managed to send it on my fourth try over two sessions. I think the route just suited me very well, although it was cruxy it was not too bouldery and I would describe it as much more of an endurance based climb, which is what I prefer.

What were the cruxes like? From what I have gathered, the way I climbed Buffet was not the most traditional due to my height, but there are three main cruxes on the route no matter how you climb it. For me, the first relied on a stretched out crimpy sequence, the second was a tension-based boulder problem and the last (redpoint) crux was a wild lockoff to a bad sidepull finishing with a stab to a flat edge.

Sara Frangos on Jason Lives. Photo Stacey Weldon

You also sent Jason Lives at the back of the lake, how was that route? Jason Lives is a totally iconic route. Again, it was something that went quicker than I thought it would (on my second try), but I also found a beta that suited my height and relied much more on crimp strength and core rather than dynamic climbing like others may do it. Every time I go back to Lake Louise it reminds me how amazing the rock quality really is. The climbing is so unique compared to what is found around Canmore but is home to some of the most aesthetic climbs in the valley.

A few weeks ago, you sent Shooting Packer at Planet X. How does it compare to other 5.13bs you’ve been on? Like most of the routes at Planet X, Shooting Packer is an endurance test piece. It climbs the first three quarters of Shooting Star 5.12d then breaks off into a relentless little overhanging traverse section and doesn’t really ease up until the anchors. I would say for the style it is pretty solid in the grade.

Planet X.
Planet X.

Fudge Packer is a Planet X 5.13d classic. How many days have you put in on it and is the crux one or two moves or an endurance thing? I’ve only tried Fudge Packer a few times so far but it is definitely what I will get back on next time I’m at Planet X. This route has a bit of everything. It finishes in the crux section of Shooting Packer, but the climbing up to this crux is much harder, with multiple very bouldery sections with much less opportunity for rest. It is a relentless climb that definitely relies on power endurance climbing.

How long were you projecting Endless Summer? How did the send feel? Right before my sister left for her trip to Europe to participate in a a few lead World Cups about two-and-a-half weeks ago, she sent Endless Summer which was a longtime project of hers over the last couple of seasons. So before she left I gave a couple of burns on the climb and she gave me a run down of the beta. I think I had four sessions on the climb, giving an average of two to three burns per session before I sent the climb yesterday. The send was actually a bit of a surprise as it was my third day climbing and I felt quite tired and sore. But with the help of some tape, awesome sending temps, and a group of super supportive locals cheering me on, I managed to get it done!

What’s your plans for the rest of the summer? For the next two weeks I am still rather busy with teaching a lot of summer camps at Elevation Place, so my weekdays are mainly taken up by that. But by mid August, my schedule opens up and I am planning on spending my last couple of weeks in Canmore climbing my heart out, enjoying the outdoors with family and friends, and preparing for school starting in September!

Are you heading to Paris in Sept. for the World Championships? This September I am starting my first year of university at the University of Guelph studying Biomedical Sciences so unfortunately both the World Championships in Paris and the World Youth Championships in China are not in the cards for me this year.

Follow Sara Frangos on Instagram @sara_frangos.