Under the “pressure” of too many hard ascents I decide to update my tick list before having the most beautiful route of my life La Cène du lézard (9b) in Jansegg/CH banned on video.
Normally I like to publish ascents together with a nice text, stunning pictures, a well done video. I love to tell a story. I adore climbing since it has more to offer than only names of routes and their grades. I reached so high in difficulty because I am convinced that there is life beyond my tick list.
And normally this creative outcome of a hard climb can be finished in the days or weeks after. But sometimes things turn out a little more complicated.
We returned from five months on the Altiplano in September 2017 not only with one 9a+, three 9a and some 8b/c routes, but with exactly the opposite weather of the perfect conditions we had had down there almost every day. The whole September in central Europe was rainy, the crags were wet. My shape was splendid, my weight ridiculously low, my hemoglobin hilariously high. But on the two or three days outside I only sent one single harder route, Streiflicht (8c) in Kochel.
I stuck to the self made “real rock” boulder in my garden where I added some explosiveness to my route climbing shape and the pitiless finger power from the minuscule pockets and crimps on the Altiplano volcanic tuff.
The October came and with it the only two and a half weeks of great weather in the whole season (until April 2018). I went to Switzerland, where still some projects were unfinished since we had left the country in 2015. Even a boulder problem at Cousimbert. Walden. A beautiful sandstone line of nine hard moves that I a had tried at least on 30-40 sessions mainly in 2015 without coming really close. Now the forest was dry and the homecoming feelings dragged me into an unbelievable sending flow. I hadn’t been in there for more than a year, but after rechecking the moves and one good try, I only needed one more moment of highly concentrated day shape willingness to free this problem that back then resisted to me longer than Drop a line (8C/8C+). But it might be a little less my style, as it is shorter and more intense. I think of it rather as an 8C.
In between I had to return to Germany and benefited from the rarely dry state of From Doubt to Confidence (9a) at the Rocky Wall in Kochel. It became a rather chilled first repetition of this nice line from Chris Münch and left some doubts about the grade open. (With Ralf Grabowski finding out an even slightly better beta in spring 2018 this route can’t really be compared to other 9a in Kochel, and only would fit the grade further southwards on the continent.) The way I did it, 8c+/9a sounds okay to me. (It isn’t always easy to find some kind of grading philosophy in between Meiose as a 9a+ and A muerte, Jungle Speed or Cabane au Canada as proper and confirmed 9a routes…)
Thus I went a second time to Switzerland to fulfill another afterlife dream (the kind of achievement you would never believe to come up to during this life): La Cène du lézard. The Last Supper of the lizard. Combining Le roi lézard (8c+) with the crux of Des scènes bizarres dans la mine d’or (9a+) and a new last hard boulder resulting from a broken hold. I bolted the route in 2012 and projected it ever since in different variations and while some 30-50 days.
This time it is the last occasion of the year. 1st of November. The day after, snow will cover the 1800m high Jansegg and it won’t leave until April or May. All depends on the new last boulder jump. An 8b/8b+ sequence at the start leads into a bad rest that in addition is wet on this day and can’t be used and only dodged to keep the fingertips dry. But my weight is down to 63kg on 184cm and thus even without resting the following 8B crux doesn’t represent a big problem. Just afterwards a good foot lock above your head permits proper resting and enjoying the scenery of the late autumn mountains around, the Gastlosen ridge vis-à-vis and the chamois herd next to us. I am sucking in beauty. Respiring luck. Feeling the strength and the ability to finally finalize this afterlife dream having slipped into one life “too” early.
I imagine the movement of my body swinging up rightwards, I picture the flight and nearly can feel how I will be hitting the crucial hold in the very right position. How I will – for the very first time in a real try from the ground – resist to the centrifugal forces dragging my down and out to the right.
I figure it out and then I color the picture.
Throughout the valley the echos of elation are trailing away.
I am 32 years old and I used to believe in training theory. This shape and this weight seem to me so exceptional that I’d be ready to consider this moment as the peak of my personal climbing history. As my last really long projected hard climb. My personal Last Supper.
La Cène du lézard.
The subjectively hardest route of my life.
I would consider but to be honest I don’t loose a single thought to all this. There is still only beauty rushing trough my veins and my neurons. There is still just this place and the memory of these unique movements. This rock. And the scenery.
Above all this is the most beautiful route in my life. It deserves pictures, no numbers. But it might be 9b. As I might be 32.
At first I hope for another occasion to shoot it the same year, then I hope for not too much snow during winter to be able to film it perhaps even with a white background. And meanwhile decide not to update any kind of tick list or execute any other publication.
But I will wait in vain.
Anyways with horrible late autumn weather coming in, there is hardly anything to climb at home and then the year is over. Normally Spain is the answer, but I have kids and I have the privilege and the burden to be their central person of reference and to mainly look after them. So I can free myself one time two weeks to start working on Via de la Capella (9b) in Siurana but soon we have to flee the cold weather to Chulilla. In a second time down in Siurana in February I loose half of my three weeks (two of them with the kids) to an amygdalitis and a monster cut in the end. In hardly 20 tries at all I fall off at the fore last hard move but will have to persue in autumn.
Back home the winter is still alive. Minus 20 degrees and lots of snow. But by the middle of March things begin to brighten up. My weight is quite normal again (67kg), my shape has been formed by by very few and intense climbing for several months but since the Altiplano has stayed somehow supernatural. (My Last Supper might have even strengthened me – must have been chickpeas instead of bread.) First a finish a 12 year 55 moves project in Kochel – Heim nach Afrika (Home to Afrika) – in a seizure of somnolence without even getting pumped. It is clearly harder than any of my 9a routes. But what comes next to 9a? 9a+? 9a/9a+? Upper end 9a? Or just “barrier-9a”?
7a? (That’s what it felt like.)
Stamina is coming back and dry winds from the south conquer Kochel. No better time of the year to send three 9a in six days. Walk the Plank from Ralf Grabowski at the Rockywand on Friday the 13th of April, the 9a/9a+ FA of Magus Fagus (the magical beech tree) at the same place three days later and on 16th of April Big Hammer (9a) from Christian Bindhammer in Pinswang/Austria in only five tries on two days. No very big sort of a hammer.
“I’d rather be a hammer than a nail”
“I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail”
Easier than From Doubt to Confidence and in a world in which Meiose should be a rather soft 9a+, this one would be an easy 8c. Well…
Summer is coming. In terms of climbing I laid back a lot in the last months but I will probably even reinforce my resting. Let my body and my mind regain substance. Let them forget what we once thought was true: The misconception of training theory.
Truth is only in your own brain. Dare to believe that two climbing days per week with never more than three tries will make you stronger in a sustainable way and it will. Dare to believe that climbing is uniquely joy and it will. And dare to believe that training isn’t necessary. And you can spend your time more pleasantly.
Dare to believe that when you hurt yourself less, when there are no more sings of overtraining left, that when you climb way harder than you ever did before, you are not really getting older. Dare the consideration that your athletic-physiologic age does not have to shrink after 25. Despite the fact that time is passing by.
Dare to imagine you where the lizard king.
You could do anything…