THE visit of the North Face Rock Climbing Team led by legendary rock climber Yuji Hirayama, and elite climbing couple James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini paved way to the bolting of 16 new routes in Brgy. Tagbao, Cebu City.

The group bolted 12 routes in Mansorela from Feb. 11 to 14 and added four more in Monsterela from Feb. 16 to 18. The visit of the group was part of the Spot Project and Climbers Without Borders.

Patrick Costelo of Cebu Rock Climbing Community said the visit of renowned rock climbers has marked a new era for rock climbing in the country.

“People may not realize it yet but they have inspired local climbers to climb harder, and by putting up multiple hard routes (Graded 7c+ to 8c+). The locals will have routes to project and in the process, raise the level of local climbing,” he told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

“The visit yielded the first 8c+ routes in the country. Our hardest before their visit was 8b+,” he added.

Hirayama, a two-time lead climbing world champion, and known for his technical climbing, promised the locals that he will be back in Cebu next year to bolt more routes. Hirayama, who stayed here for 10 days left Cebu yesterday.

Pearson and Ciavaldini are staying until March 1 to continue bolting the routes in Barangay Tagbao.

The trio also visited the Jack Sparrow 8+b route in Cantabaco, Toledo City. Costelo said that Jack Sparrow is the highly-develop crag in the country and has the hardest route too.

“They went there to assess if we have the right grade on the route and evaluate the state of our outdoor development and quality of our outdoor climbing,” he explained. “They graded it as 8+b the same grade the locals have given it.”

The three of them also on-sighted Lust for Lime in Cantabaco and graded it as 8a+ route, the same grade rated by the locals.

“Hirayama is looking to be back next year, but Pearson and Ciavaldini they haven’t said yet, but who knows, they like it here, added Costelo.

The visit of the North Face Team was supported by the Cebu Rock Climbing Community and the Vertigo Climbing Center.