Another year another trad climb, good start of 2015 - Second ascent of Alex Luger´s Psychogramm 8b+ at Bürs
For January my main goal was to focus on training upper bodypower and try to prepare myself for the good bouldering conditions and also for the upcoming multipitch projects. For me as a rock climber it is hard to sacrifice time only to train on wood or plastic. Therefore I decided to go slab climbing on the days, where I wanted to climb, but felt to sore for training. I knew the Bürser Platte from last year and it was exactly what I was looking for, super technical and balancy terrain yet powerful climbing on crimps. For me it was the perfect combination.
Last year Alex Luger opened Psychogramm, it´s the very narrow crack to the left of Prinzip Hoffnung. After my ascent of Prinzip Hoffnung, I could not imagine to try it. Time passed and I got used to trad gear. Not exactly a year later things have changed and I worked it on toprope until I felt confident enough on the boulderproblem, which revolves around a technical and cripmy sequence. I had to use some really bad footholds, which enabled me to make the far move, sometimes they popped off sometimes not, so the gamble was on.
It looks like a crack, but Psychogramm climbs like a faceclimb because you have always some crimps or anything on the side of the crack. The crack offers just enough protection to make it some kind of save to climb on it clean. I climbed with two belayers, just in case the micronut in the crux and the lower cam that also is not a 100% save, will fail. In this case the second belayer hopefully is fast enough to run, in order to bring some slack in until you hit the good protection, unfortunately it is just below the half of the route. Nonetheless I decided to give it a go, after having checked the placements.
On my first try I was surprised, I was concentrated during the climb, but never felt uncomfortable with the situation. Unluckily the foot popped and I fell, luckily the nut catched me. It took me
another few tries over the period of 3 days, until the the foot stayed and I could keep it together to the top. This was the first repetition of Psychogramm and I was happy to climb on such a
special climb and also see the big mental progress compared to last year. Thanks go out to Alex for the challenge and to Babsi, Michi, Manu and Jacopo for catching me soft. Photo
Credits: ©Jacopo Larcher
Nirwana - First repetition of the beautiful and bold Alex Huber multipitch at Loferer Alm
After Silbergeier I wanted to check a new multipitch project for spring. I had been once in summer in the route but it was way to hot and I was not climbing relaxed in the lower not so hard but bold pitches. But I was impressed by the steepness of the wall and the dynamic climbing it requires, it is totally unusual for alpin climbing.
This is the last hard move of the third boulder problem in the 8c+ pitch
The day before yesterday a friend of mine gave me belay and I just wanted to see how far I can climb, at that moment I never thought about an ascent. I knew I have worked the pitches very good, while I was alone in the wall, but a repetition of this really hard route seemed far away. Luckily it was not, this day showed me, that your body can learn a system of moves. My second try on the 50m long 8c+ pitch was like a dream.. The pitch can be divided into three boulder problems, each is separated by either power climbing on pockets or a very technical face climb, getting harder the higher you climb. The final boulder problem is the crux and it requires a lot of finger strength and I had to improve every little detail in my movement, to be able to climb it and I never had such a good run on a route.
Biggest respect to Alex Huber for opening such a nice route in this perfect style. He used trad gear and only bolts where they are necessary. The belays have 2 bolts and the other 7 pitches are protected by a total of 17 bolts. The beauty of the cliffline above Lofer is amazing and I hope to be able to add my own route at some point.
SIlbergeier - An excursion into multipitch climing
This year I wanted to improve not only in bouldering, after my ascent of "Prinzip Hoffnung" at Bürs I started to think about mutlipitches, talking to Beat increased this will. But after using the good conditions in spring for sportclimbing an bouldering, the weather got really bad and we got the most precipitation during summer in the last 20 years or so. So I always wanted to go to Rätikon or any other dry wall, but the days where rare. Once I got lucky and partnered with Manu Brunn, we drove up to Rätikon to check out the beta for Silbergeier. I have heard a lot about the beauty of this route and the fantastic alpine limestone. After a long day of working the moves of every pitch, we were blown away by the quality of this climb. We expected it to be good, but it´s incredible and Beat was yet another time way ahead of the time with his free ascent!
After the first day it was clear, that we wanted to project the route together, but again the weather did not cooperate. We had one day in the route, where it even started to snow, but nonetheless the progress came fast and the beta was refined. Rätikon is really technical and you climb a lot with your feet, I really started to like the style. Silbergeier goes through a very compact wall and if it rains, all the water runs over the holds and tickmarks get washed away. Therefore it was really important, that I knew each foothold to climb fluent and fast without having everything white.
Before I flew to the Petzl Roctrip, Manu and me nearly made a team ascent, but we got stopped by rain. I knew this is going to happen at least once this summer. After coming back from eastern Europe, I gave it another shot. It was really hot that day, I tried hard but for some reason could not redpoint the first pitch. Anyway after a 2.5 weeks break, I had forgotten quite a bit of beta, so I decided to boulder through every pitch again and try to find the easiest solution for me, At the end of the day I got some beta improvements and got already psyched to come back soon. For sure you can just pull harder or climb it somehow, then you loose to much skin and energy in the first pitches and completing the route gets exponentially harder.
This previous day with Michi, where I improved my beta was really important. It also gave me the confidence that I needed to climb without hesitating. After another two restdays Chri Bindhammer belayed me last thursday. The first four pitches felt super smooth and I climbed very relaxed, on every belay I was surprised how well the pitch went. I reached the ledge after the fourth pitch really fast and had a lot of time to rest and try the crux pitch. Unfortunately the clouds went away and we had like 30°C and no wind up there, my first try ended on the very last move of the crux section because I slipped. I decided to wait, it had to cool down, otherwise I can not climb on these sharp holds and small footholds. After a good nap, the evening came and so did the cooler temps, I tried to wake up again and luckily could climb it straight away. In the last pitch I slipped above the small boulder, due to the fact that a foothold broke and I had to try a second time. Then it was done and I was on top of Silbergeier, I felt relieved and enjoyed a very nice sundown.
For me Silbergeier marks another stage on my way to become an allround climber and it was an incredible joy to get adapted to the technical and balancy climbing style, luckily I had my Miuras;-). In future I also try to mix all climbing disciplines and try to have as much fun as possible in the mountains.
Huge thanks to Manu, Michi and Chri for the nice days in the mountains, to Stefan Kürzi for the effort during the shooting day while taking the amazing pictures. Here you can find some more pictures. And of course I want to thank all my sponsors for the great support.
Going East with the Petzl Roctrip
I have attended the first stops of the Petzl Roctrip in the past two weeks. It has been my first Roctrip and I am very sad that I had to leave, I spend some amazing time with old friends and made new ones. In my oppinion it is a very good chance for all climbers, to come together and enjoy the live on the road mixed with incredible good rock!
So I took the airplane from Munich to Timisiora, from here it`s only 150km to my first destination Baile Herculane, which lies in the Cerna valley. It is specially known for the hotspring, which even go back until the roman times. I arrived at night and directly met my romainian friends at the caravan on the festival area. On the next day we made our way up to the cascade area of Vanturatoarea, the approach to the cliff takes about 40 minutes, once I was at the cliff, I was totally impressed by the beauty of the wall. It is a 150m limestone wall, you have routes in every steepness and the rock is from oustanding quality. There is an anual climbing competition at the cascade area, as a result of that, the cliff offers a lot of estabilshed routes. The bolting crew from Petzl, also did a fantastic job, so you have endless potential to try hard.
On my first day I just wanted to enjoy the long routes and climbed as much as possible, then in the evening Rus Bodgan showed a nice project on the very right side of the cliff. The project is called Kashmir and you can devide it into two parts, first you have a bouldery but technical section on sidepulls, the crux for me is a footmove. After working out beta together with Rus we decided to come back tomorrow. As we went down, it already got dark and we where ready for some dinner, we all drove into a very oldschool restaurant, which stets you back into the Kommunism time. The food was simple but good and we had a great time, before we went back for the evening program at the caravan.
Day two was reserved for Kashmir and together with Nina, Mike and Cedric we tried to link the route. It was impressive to witness Cedric flashing it, also he used the spit in the crux as a heelhook;-). I got very close, but unfortunately could not complete the blind footmove. Therfore I hope to be back soon and also try the other amazing lines. In the evening a local SKA Band got the party started, but rain was also coming, so we all moved nearby to a local Bar and DJ Lafouche took over and made a very good job.
On the next day it was still pouring, for the most it was anyway a restday, but I wanted to climb because we planned to make our way to Bulgaria on the next day and I didn`t want to rest two days. So I went to Surploma and enjoyed a few routes, it os an area close to the city, you even can walk.
On the 14th of october we made our way to Bulgaria, normaly it is no far, but we had to make a detour due to flooding. Therefore we also had to take another boarder, where we had to cross the Donau by ferry. I was driving with Julien and Jeremy in their van and we all could not believe what was going on. We felt like in India;-), all in all crossing the boarder was around 60€ and the 700m took us 2 hours. After a full day of travelling we finally reached Vratsa, but it was still raining.
In the morning there was no chance of climbing in Vratsa, so Petzl changed plans and offered a bus to Karlukovo. On the drive to the cave the driver suddendly screw POUMA, we all thought we hit a big cat or so, but actually POUMA means flat tire. So he organised another bus and after one hour we finally could continued our drive to the cave. When I first entered this amazing tunnel with all the tufas, I had been totally blown away. We all couldn´t imagine such a nice place in the middle of nowhere. Due to all the hustle with the bus, we did not get enough time to climb a lot, so the plan for the next day was clear and we also drove there. But the haevy rain was not good for the cave and suddendly the water seeped through the rock and most tufas got wet. But there are also other nice routes we could enjoy. The evening programm consisted out of two slideshowes, first Cedric told us more about his caving expedition to Papua New Guninea, where they discovered a huge cave directly in the jungle. Sam Beaugey was next and gave us an amzing slideshow about his expeditions to both poles, where they tried to have as much fun as possible! WAY TO GO!!
On my last climbing day, the sun wa finally shining and we were able to climb in Vratsa. The huge cliffline above the big cave, reminded me on France or Spain, the climbing is slightly overhanging and offeres very solid rock. We all had a really good day and it was fun to hang out with the team. In the evening the city of Vratsa offered us a local dinner and afterwards there was a nice party around the caravan.
In the morning I had to leave and took the train from Vratsa to Sofia and from there the plane to Munich. When you drive with the train through these valley in Bulgaria, you see the endless potential, that the east has to offer. I had an amazing time with the Petzl crew and I am very happy to be part of such a nice team! Going east with the roctrip, was a really good idea and I think a lot of climbers will start to go east. Thanks to all the romanian and bulgarian people I met, they had been very freindly and hospitable. Also huge thanks to Petzl for inviting me to such a great event.
Here is also the first Episode of the Roctrip movie, so enjoy and stay tuned for the upcoming episodes. The filmteam works a lot during the trip and does an incredible job!
In December I have broken my ankle for the second time in 6 months, therefore I was even more motivated in february to go outdoor bouldering again, instead of hanging on some ungrateful piece of wood. But in mid february I got bad news and was forbidden to jump down another 3 weeks. Initially, this was a pretty sobering message because I would have liked to drive straight to my boulder projects, this year the weather would have been perfect for them. As a result of that I decided to search for a new challenge inbetween my training days, but which? Just at this time Jacopo repeated Beat Kammerlander`s trad route “Prinzip Hoffnung“ E9-10 8b+ in Bürs, AT. I have not climbed routes for the past few years and never tradclimbed, but somehow I liked the idea of climbing in the winter sun and try to get a new experience. The other advantage was, that I do not have to jump on the ground, at least this was my hope. On the same evening I got all infos from Jacopo and dedusted my ropeclimbing stuff, already on the next day I was in front of the Bürserslab.
From the parking lot you can already see the uniqueness of the route, it is about 40 m long and consists of a cracksystem, which stops in about 2/3 of the route and then it is seperated trough a 5m slap section, only to start on the right side of it again and finish at the top.
For me as a non route climber, it looked damn long and smooth. We quickly installed the toprope and started checking the moves. It would be very nice to repeat such a route ground up, but due to the reason that I have climbed with traditional gear only once, I felt to inexperienced to do it ground up. But at the first toprope try I was thrilled by the special and highly technical climbing, I could not imagine to redpoint it and was pretty skeptical if it was a good idea. Together with Chri Bindhammer beta was found and the puzzle started to come together. After a few days the motivation was high enough to return and work on the route again. The more I checked it in toprope, the more I remembered of the complex moves and the countless smeary footholds, hence I was able to redpoint it to my own surprise in toprope.
From this point on I wanted to go all in and make a lead try, I wanted to know how my psyche would play along. I borrowed all the trad gear from my friends and tried to find the best placements. Once every movement and every protection was in my head, I ventured a try. This try ended unfortunately before the crux, I waisted all of my non exsisting stamina, on climbing very static and slowly, due to the reason I was scared. But then I took the whipper, all my protection was solid and suddendly I trusted the gear. This day my forearmes were totally pumped and I had to take a restday, to try again
On second of March I could climb more relaxed because I trusted my protection and therefore Iwas able to secure me the third repetition of this amazing route. For me it was a completely different challenge and approach, compared with my boulder projects. Though I really enjoyed the mental game and the technical climbing of the route. It was a really nice experience and I would like to thank Jacopo Larcher and Chri Bindhammer for the support especially to Beat for opening this brilliant route and to all my sponsors.
Realisation of a bouldering dream
As I didn´t want to spend my semestervacations, in the grey winter of the northern part of the San Bernadino, I decided to stay another month in my beloved Ticino. After I had pretty much reached all my goals for this bouldering season in January because I was able to climb The Dagger fb 8b+ and did an FA in Bodio, which felt as hard as the Dagger to me. Since then I was searching for a new challenge. During the time that I spent working on The Dagger, I sometimes went on the other side of the boulder in order to play around on the stand start of Dreamtime.
Dreamtime was first ascented as the first 8c, by no other then the legendary Fred Nicole, got downgraded to 8b+, a few years ago a big part of the big hold in the middle section broke and after that it got refirst ascented by Adam Ondra. For me this boulder is truely THE Line in Cresciano, when I was with a friend of mine for the first time bouldering in Ticino, he showed me this line and explained that it is Freds masterpiece. After touching the holds, I was deeply impressed and overwelmed by the line. But I could not imagen to even leave the ground with these holds. So we went onwards and I climbed my first fb 6c+ slopertraverse this trip.
A few years past and I have gotten stronger also because I was bouldering a lot in Ticino during the winter time. Surely I sometimes walked pass the Dreamtimeboulder. However I knew I am way to weak to try it, but at that time this and other hard boulders had literally been parts of my dreams. These visions are my sources of motivation beside the beauty of a line.
So this year I played around at the standstart and finally found a good , but pretty extended beta and was able to climb it. At that time I thought the first time that I might try to climb the full line, finally I had to work out the pretty powerfull bottom moves. The heelhook move drove me nearly crazy, but even this part of the puzzle got solved and the goal for the semesterholidays in february was set.
I rented out a place in Claro together with good friends thankfully to the warm and snowless winter, I could try and train nearly everyday on my project when I felt well rested and my skin was heeled up. After a few days I was able to make a lot of good tries within one session. But I also have climed a bunch of other problembs because the fingers and the skin suffer a lot on the small crimps. Additionally I had to be 100% recovered and the conditions had to be prime, also I didn´t wanted to believe this a few times.
The crux for me was definetaly located in the standstart, it was the far move out left, from two razor crimps, to a slopy sidepull crimp, which I had to hit perfectly. When I did that move the problem went down, but I kept falling at least 25 times there over a few days.
Unfortunately I wasn´t able to complete the boulder during my holidays, but I rested 3 days at home and then came back for the weekend, although the forecast wasn´t stabil at all. So I stood in front of a wet Dreamtime on saturday, but I didn´t want to rest another day, so I desperatly tried to dry the holds. I even made it five times to the crux, just in order to slip with wet fingers out of the wall. Due to the fact that I had to drive to Innsbruk on sunday, I tried my luck on the second climbing day although I normally don´t climb very well on the second day on.
But low expectations are sometimes the key, if a boulder got mental anyways and the conditions had just been perfect. I felt a little sore during warmup,but my skin got really nice and cold in the wind. I arranged all my pads and set on the start of the boulder and concentrated. Then I climbed very relaxed to my crux and dug deep, suprisingly I stuck the left sidepull and was hanging totally perplex in the boulder. Now I knew I am not allowed to fall because you never know when you will be able to stick it again. So I turned the autopilot on and suddenly stood on top of the boulder of my dreams!! I couldn´t belive it! That was such a big relief for myself and definetly may hardest boulder to date, but everybody knows, after the project is before the project!
For Stefan Kürzi`s amazing pictures check out the gallery!