This Kid Just Climbed Harder Than 99% of Us Ever Will — At 12 Years Old

Theo Blass joined the 9a (5.14d) club on Thursday with a successful effort on “Trip Tik Tonic,” in France’s Gorges du Loup.

The news: He did it before celebrating his 13th birthday. Blass clipped the chains on the sickeningly steep limestone testpiece at the age of 12 years, nine months, according to Gripped. The outlet said that makes him the youngest person ever to climb the grade, edging out Gianluca Vighetti, who solved “Un Vento Nuovo” last September.

“Trip Tik Tonic” first went up at 8c+ in 2004 — but a few holds broke, according to, which forced future ascensionists to find a new option. Jerome Pouvreau eventually unlocked a solution that proved a tick harder, the outlet said, and “Trip Tik Tonic” became a 9a.

Blass was not a stranger to the “youngest to climb” world records category when he finished the sport climb on September 8. In 2020, he became the youngest climber to tick 8c on “Souvenirs du Pic” at age 10. LaCrux reported his attempt set the bar at the time.

Two years later, Blass told Gripped he coveted one benchmark during his lead-up to 9a — to beat the legendary Adam Ondra to it. He succeeded: Ondra turned 13 before he first climbed the grade.

Blass’ comments on the success? Not what you’d call verbose, but perhaps revealing of a certain simplistic zen.

“Soooo happy,” the young crusher reported via Instagram after the climb.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.