Headless Children

Interview for Desnivel Magazine Nr. 362, September 2016 http://desnivel.com

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3E0K4S7_E0

How is Headless children route (pitches, crux, meters, bolts, style, grade…)?

The route has 9 pitches and is mostly vertical. The style is alpine and offers bolts where necessary. Unless the last pitch all the pitches are bolted.

A great part of the climbing is very technical on small holds. The crux pitch however, offers a symbolic Damocles sword, a roof that hangs over the climb. After some powerful moves through the roof you are rewarded with a jug on the lip. The next 1,5 meters offer no holds or texture. The only solution is an all in mantle over the lip, almost gaining a no hand rest. Then you need to dance to the left before reaching holds again.

Its name is scary, do you know where it comes from?

The name is from a heavy metal band and I assume they were listening to it then. The route itself is not scary in a sense that you might get injured but it is a serious climb most definitely.

Is the route expo?

Yes, the roof pitch is expo but the bolting is alright.

What was your strategy for try and send the pitches?

I tried to get to the crux pitch and try do the mantle. I knew about the beta from my friend Mark Amann who did the first free ascent and came up with this crazy sequence. I have to thank him for finding a solution to getting over that blank spot of rock!

I did not succeed in doing the mantle the first session so I decided to come back and try again. I did not even go to the top. The topo i had from the internet said that the last 2 pitches are 8- and 7+ so I did not bother to even try.

Next day, a week later, I tried to get through the lower pitches as fast as possible. I did all the lower pitches and felt still powerful enough to try the boulder on the crux pitch. I spent about 1 hour figuring out the mantle. When I finally succeeded I was happy and tired at the same time. I felt that I had spent too much energy for an attempt.

I rested for a long time (hanging belay-;( and started one desperate attempt and surprised myself…

What was the hardest pitch for you? Why?

Roof pitch (7th pitch) with mantle.

What did happen in the “easy” 7b pitch?

Well, my topo told me it’s only 8- (6c+) so I was pretty shocked when I could not even get over the slab by pulling on the bolts. I seriously got mad and crazy at the same time, mad for not trying it before and crazy for the fear of having to do all the previous pitches again if I failed to free 8-.

I spent another hour to figure out the alleged 8- and sent it in my 5th go after several falls and swearing. I also got a bit worried about the last pitch which I hadn’t tried either. I had not much gear with me and was afraid I might need another hour to the top. However, it worked out. Not very safe but to the top nevertheless.

How many tries did you need?

2 days

Did you climb all the pitches leading, in a day?

Yes. I consider this the only cool style in the alps in alpine free climbing!

How was the redpoint day?

Long, tiring, no headlamps and lots of beers in the evening.

Anedcdotes during the climb?

Well, me getting slammed on an alleged 8- pitch and later finding out it was actually 9- and considered spicy by the first ascentionists.

Why “Van Gogh meets Matisse”?

Look at the pictures of the wall and you’ll be struck by the beauty, resembling these painters

Have you climbed other hard routes in Ratikon?

No, not yet, unfortunately!

How you combine your boulder training with free climbing in bigwalls?

Well, I always get my fair share of beating but I have prevailed in the end. The first day(s) are always tough and I hate myself for not training more. But once I get used to the height and the endurance climbing it fits me pretty well.

Are you thinking in others long and free routes?

Always…;-)

Are you still interested in competitions?

Yes, I am interested in them. Sometimes I watch the live stream and sometimes I talk to the young guns in our team. I also climb with Anna and Jakob Schubert and the rest of the Innsbruck gang. I also do some comps from time to time , no more world cups or championships. enough of that…;-)

Are you a profesional climber?

Define professional…;-)

I think so…

How is a normal day in your life?

I studied and I worked as a teacher in high school for one year. This was tough at times, especially when I wanted to climb projects or travel but couldn’t. But it was a great experience and I am glad for it. The next years I want to focus on climbing again!

Do you like music? Could you quote a soundtrack for Headless children?

Sorry, nothing on my i-pod like that…;-)

 

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