Becca Frangos is a 22-year-old rock climber from Canmore, Alberta. Though she is classically known for her skill on the competition circuit, the onset of the pandemic has directed her strengths toward outdoor projects. In July, we sat down with Frangos to discuss her ascent of Leviathan, a nails 5.14a in the Bow Valley that would become her first of the grade.
Just over a month later, Frangos is back on the rock, back in B.C., and back to pushing her limits on hard limestone sport routes. This time, ASDATO.
ASDATO was originally rated at 5.14c, but over the last few years it has been downgraded, by consensus, to a tough 5.14b. Frangos had taken a look at the route back in March but hadn’t given it any goes. After Leviathan, she was psyched to push herself on this Horne Lake test-piece.
Frangos returned to B.C. on July 30. She would get out to the route in, “the first week of August, pretty soon after I got back. I only got up to Horne Lake like two or three times last spring, before Nationals in Montreal. I was working on Globe at the time. I had just finished it and didn’t have time to start anything else, but ASDATO was definitely on my list. It is just such a beautiful line. It’s like the king line of the cave. It goes up the steepest part.”
The route itself is relatively tall, with several bolts in the overhang adding a few extra metres of climbing. Frangos said, “I want to say it’s like 30-metres tall, but it’s a massive roof, and then there are like five or six draws of climbing after you get over the roof.”
“In terms of moves, Leviathan felt harder just because the crux is so stout, but ASDATO has three cruxes. Overall, the moves are easier than the one boulder on Leviathan, but, because there are three of them, it’s hard to do them all in a row.”
“The first bit of the route, from the ground, is not so hard, but it’s also not easy. It’s maybe mid 5.12 climbing for three or four draws, and then you get quite a good knee-bar rest as it begins to kick back really steep. The first two cruxes are one after another. The first crux, out of that knee-bar, is like five or six moves, and they’re all bigger, foot cut moves, before you do a big move to a block. Most people are then able to get a good knee-bar and shake, but my knee was way too small for that.”
Frangos laughed, “That was super sad, so I ended up flipping upside down on that block to get some knee-scum thing, which worked pretty well. It was enough to get energy back to do the next crux, which was a series of slaps on these sloped rails with some really weird toe-hooks and feet. After the bumps, you get two draws of decently hard climbing, before a really good rest. Finally, you reach the top crux.”
Frangos noted that the first and second cruxes go at about V5/6 and V8 respectively. Even though she believes, “the third crux is probably also a V8, it felt harder than the second crux. On my red-point attempts, I never fell on either of the first two cruxes. It was only the third crux that I was falling on. When you put them all together, things get pumpy.”
“There’s like five or six moves to get into the crux, so you are little bit flamed when you actually get into the hard climbing. From the knee-bar and the heel-toe cam, I was able to cross to this pinchy-pocket hold with my left hand. I kept the knee-bar and went to this pinchy under-cling. I moved my right foot out of the knee-bar and up a bit to do a big move to a toothy, flat, two-finger crimp. Then I do a high, left heel-hook, and do this really big lock-off. This is one of the harder moves that, originally, I would fall on a lot. It’s a really big lock-off to a quite good, in-cut, pocket-pinch hold, but it’s really high and back. You initially hit it out and then you have to bump your hand up.”
“Once I hit that, I get my foot up on that toothy hold, and pull into an under-cling. This is the ‘start’ of the top crux. What makes this hard is that you have to clip because there is this big runout for the next draw. I would back flag to clip, but sometimes when I got there I would be too pumped. Instead, I found a way to hit the under-cling, get this really pitiful knee-scum on the side of a block, do the clip and then bump left hand to a pinch. You hold it there and go out to another pinchy under-cling, do a left drop-knee, and then do the hardest part, this really big move to a smiley face, in-cut crimp.”
“At this point, I was so tired that I just hail married to the tufa and somehow stuck it haha. From there you swing your feet over and do a bunch of foot moves to match the tufa, get a knee-bar, and then mentally keep it together for four more moves before you get a really good knee-bar rest. Then it’s a pretty chill four or five draws to the top.”
The seemingly ludicrous number of moves in and around the top crux is indicative of the difficulty of the entire route. Frangos reflected on her send go, and said, “I was so pumped. It was one of those moments where every inch of you is screaming to let go.”
With ASDATO complete, Frangos joins an elite set of female Canadian rock climbers, pushing difficult grades in the sport. “I remember when Marieta Akalski sent Florida in 2014. I was super inspired and wanted to do something like that that someday.” To that end, she said, “I definitely want to push the boundaries of female sport climbing. I just hope to be a good role model for the young female athletes in our community. I hope to be a source of inspiration for female climbers like so many have been for me.”
As ASDATO ended up taking Frangos the exact same number of sessions as Leviathan, it seems probable that her recent ascent does not reflect the limit of her ability. With school beginning this week, Frangos is looking to return to the fall training grind while maintaining a balance with school and outdoor climbing.
For the upcoming year, Frangos said, “I am looking forward to being the best athlete I can be, working hard every day, whatever that looks like, in terms of the competitions that may or may not happen. Hopefully things will appear upon the schedule and if they don’t, that’s okay.”
In either case, Frangos is excited to work hard and enjoy her outdoor climbing as, “a time to spend with friends, outside in nature,” tackling projects and escaping the stress that can come along with a busy schedule.