Leo Cea Conquers 9a (36) at 11 Years Old

11-Year-Old Becomes Youngest to Climb 9a (36)

Leo Cea, a remarkable 11-year-old Chilean climber, has achieved a feat that many seasoned climbers strive for: conquering TecnoKing, a challenging 5.14d/9a/36 grade sport route located at Las Chilcas, a renowned sport crag in Chile. This accomplishment comes on the heels of Ronny Escobar’s first ascent of the route in January, where he proposed the grade.

Despite his tender age, Cea displayed exceptional skill and determination, requiring just under two weeks to complete the ascent of TecnoKing. Impressively, this achievement follows closely on the heels of his first 5.14a/8b+/33 climb, Herejía, which he accomplished just seven months prior. At 11 years old, with a height of 1.37 m and a weight of 34 kg, he is the fourth Chilean in the ninth grade.

Comparisons to other young climbing prodigies; Theo Blass notably claiming the title of the youngest climber to conquer a 9a route at the age of 12 years and nine months, achieving this milestone with Trip Tik Tonik at Gorges du Loup. Blass’s accomplishment required around 10 sessions to complete. Prior to Blass, Gianluca Vighetti held the record as the youngest climber to achieve a 9a ascent, surpassing Theo by a mere two months.

Reflecting on the remarkable achievements of young climbers, it’s worth noting that legendary climber Adam Ondra was 13 years old when he first conquered a 9a route. Locally, Mel Janse van Rensburg and Chris Cosser are the only two South Africans to climb 9a.