Its fall and the climbing news is pouring in from all over the world in the same time its pouring down with snow outside my window. Its seams that every one except me is delivering record sends as soon as they leave their front door. So the other day I asked if could get a fingerboard from MOON. Having been a bit side tracked with an early start of the alpine season (I normally only do alpine stuff in winter). As you might have read I had a bit of an epic on the Bonatti-Vaucher just two pitches from the summit of Grandes Jorasses in what would have been a speed record of the route but that's life in the hills. I got some consolation when I managed to do the North Face of Matterhorn in 5 hours and 45 minutes cutting off 6 hours and 15 minutes from my winter ascent of the same route a few years ago. Well enough about trivial escapades in the mountains. This season has been kind of weird for me. I don't think I have ever been so strong as this summer and yet I haven’t managed to do any thing harder than 7c+ on second go and a bunch of 7b+ onsights. It’s REALLY time for me to get fit and try and break through that 8a+ wall. I hope the fingerboard, losing a few kg and starting climbing indoors will help me reach my goal to do a 8a+ during 2011.
Above: Only 10 days ago... David climbing Canicule 7b Last week at 1600 meters in the Southern Alps
In the news...
Following the climbing news some achievements really stand out and are well worth commenting on. First of all the new 8bish route established ground up by Hansjörg and Vitus Auer on the South Face of Marmolada looks unreal cool. The route name is Bruderliebe (brotherly love) and the video footage shot from a helicopter is really impressive. If you have never climbed on the Marmolada south face I really recommend that you head out and try one of the many test pieces on the 1000 meter wall where many routes are 7b or harder.
On the female front some cutting edge climbs have been delivered by Mayan Smith-Gobat, Sasha Digiulian, Lynn Hill and Hazel Findlay.
Sasha Digiulian (18) dispatched Pure Imigination, 9a in Red River Gorge on her 6th go and with this became the third female climber after Josune Bereziartu and Charlotte Duriff to send a 9a. I also noticed that Lynn Hill (50) has climbed Living in Fear, 8b in Rifle and I can't make up my mind who of the two has done the most impressive achievement. Being 50 and dispatching 8b or being 18 and doing 9a? It’s wired that human nature so often is looking to compare achievements in order to be able to discuss them or relate to them. Do we really need to compare different individual achievements? What do we gain from this endless and pointless comparing? Personal comfort I guess.
Personally I think Mayan is really inspiring to follow. This season she has freed the Salathé Wall 5.13b/c in the Yosemite valley. This is a historic route up El Cap. The first ascent was carried out by Royal Robbins, Chris Pratt, Tom Frost in 1961. The route is 35 pitches or 870 meters long. The first free ascent was done by Todd Skinner and Paul Piana whos approach was "old school" with swinging leads. This was the second female free ascent (first Steph Davis in 2005). Then a few weeks later Mayan got back up the Salathé Wall but this time she avoided the crux pitches on the Headwall and opted to climb the 4-pitch variation on the left called Free Rider, opened by Huber in 1998. Mayan climbed the route in 14 hours.
An other girl that seams to be in the GO BIG mood on El Cap is Hazel Findlay who has climbed Golden Gate, a route freed in 2000 by Alexander and Thomas Huber. This is a 41 pitch monster with 5.13b climbing. Hazel climbed free but as a second, following Hansjörg Auer.
But I think the best is yet to happen on El Cap. I'm off course thinking about Tommy Caldwell who is continuing in his efforts to free the Dawn Wall, a huge undertaking which, when finally freed, will no doubt present a new level of difficulty in free big wall climbing. The route has around 7 pitches that weight in at around 5.14/5.14+. From what I have gathered Tommy and Kevin Jorgeson has spent plus 75 days over 4 seasons working the project. Sadly Kevin Jorgeson is not climbing with Tommy right now as he injured his ankle working one of the crux pitches. If things go according to plan Tommy will start heading up the wall for a push at the end of the month. Bets of luck!
Above: Only a few days ago... Snow down to the valley. Let the winter season begin!