Friday, March 1, 2019


another dream came true - it doesn’t get much more classic - i was finally able to complete @dave_graham_ 's masterpiece „STORY OF TWO WORLDS, 8C“ in cresciano. 

„STORY OF TWO WORLDS (low), 8C“ - WHAT A LINE!!! picture by @hanneskutza

after falling in true „martin-style“ at the very last move a week before i finally was able to put the whole line together (i started the line from @dai_koyamada 's low-start; adding even more funkiness to the line (and thanks to some new crucial beta not really harder then the original start at all anymore).

another epic journey comes to an end. i did stand underneath that crazy gneiss-feature already back in 2005 getting introduced to its even crazier climbing by the master dave graham himself. despite having done my first 8A boulder shortly before i have not been able to climb any of the cruxes! i did come back for the stand start "the dagger" (fa. by @tonilamprecht71) every year to play a bit around just to get shut down again and again. 

dave graham showing how it’s done back in 2005.

there is a funny anecdote from back off that day: some off the “strong young ones” (including among others; tyler landman and  magnus midtbo) tried the new rig from dave but nobody could do the crux-moves. so when dave showed up they asked him for some beta advice. dave all syked as always (without any warm-up) did put on his climbing shoes and climbed most of the “story” up to the last move; jaws dropped, leaving all the others startled and in pure disbelieve. the guys tried again. but despite the beta-demonstration there was not much progress. lets say not all of the youngsters took it so easy. there was some cursing, sneakers, chalckbags and climbing shoes flying around. it somehow felt good to see that even the “heroes” were human ;)

dave graham with his head-first-beta for the second part of "story" - myself with the spot - back in 2005.

i was back every year but simply was unable to climb dave’s beta. it was not until 2009 till i finally solved to puzzle for me and found my own crazy beta involving a full 180-turn in the middle and i could complete "the dagger" for its 5th ascent.

the pictures above and below are from back in 2009 - going for my crazy 180-turn-beta on “the dagger” – and climbing out head-first-compression-style. for sure 8B+ with the beta’s back then! last year i finally found some better (still hard) beta to avoid my insecure 180-turn in the middle part. there is some easier beta for the end-part as well but i still climbed the end head-first-compression-style - this sequence was just too good to not be climbed in this way ;)

but the brutal start-sequence of „story of two worlds“ rejected me ever since; i just could not commit to this heinous crimp left hand at the start. my fingers would immediately scream in pain!!! so i got curious when sebastian cotting (who climbed storylast year in impressive style) told me that he had found a new beta involving a kneebar which kind of made it possible to basically skip the heinous crimp. but there was another problem with a very insecure move in the middle part. strange thing was that it worked sometimes super good, but many times i just slipped. quite annoying when coming from the “story” start. and it just could not really figure out what i was doing wrong.

detailed video analysis was the key here to understand why the heel/toe at the left sometimes slipped and sometimes stayed - thanks to this i did fully understand the body position and i never slipped again!

so a little beta-advise here: when you don’t understand why a move sometimes works and sometimes not its a good idea to film yourself. here i am climbing in the middle-part of “story” where i repeatedly lost my right heel/toe-jam when reaching to the right with my right hand. sometimes it worked quite well; many times i just lost my feet. video-analysis showed that when i slipped (upper pic) my body was pretty far away from the rock creating a bad angle (red arrow) for my toe hook right and it logically slipped. when the move worked (lower pic) my body was way higher and therefore the pressure on my toe (red arrow) was in a perfect 90degree angle to the rock – making it stick.

after getting shut down by the cold at my ninjaskills-sds-project i finally was back at the „story“ mid december last year. i figured out some better beta for the middle part and the start with the new beta worked pretty smooth. BUT the move into the roof and taking the feet out puzzled me. i just could not do them; my mind did not understand and my body rejected any attempt. so i am super thankful that i could watch my friend gianni clement (who is a damn strong underground crusher and close on sending "story" too!!! owe you big my friend!!!) doing the sequence again and again - and by watching him again and again my brain slowly started to accept and understand that it def. had to be possible. instead of just blocking it i started “to let go” – it felt super strange at first but somehow it miraculously worked. the pieces started to come together and after two weeks i could finally link the two moves. from impossible to possible... its literally all in your mind!!!

it took many more late-night-sessions to fine tune the beta and gain the necessary fitness for the whole line. fighting snow and unusual dry (too dry) conditions - the middle part turned out to be trickier then i thought. so i was very happy when i managed to figure out some flowing powerful yet subtle beta through this part as well - despite some setbacks we always found some new micro-beta-improvements and thus stayed positive and motivated . 

it was just great fun to go for it again and again; despite the obligatory last-move-and-fail-attempt (i just had numbed out and was too scared to go for the last big move to the jug without a pad in the back. this was a very good decision because i even hurt my back when just stepping down! when you get older you may get a bit wiser ;) 

one week after falling at the very last to the jug it all clicked and finally sending during a session with some good friends and my love - when everybody cheered me to the top - was the perfect ending to this 14 year journey!!! 14years is a long time for sure. but i obviously did not spend it "just" trying "story". but it means i was back again and again to try it. and in the end i may have spent more time on this piece of rock then many others that have sent "the story". but that's also because i "train" mostly on my projects. others train mostly in the gym. they get strong in the gym and then send relatively quick on rock. but everybody has to put in the time and work somewhere. it doesn't matter if it is in the gym or on real rock. there is no such thing as a free lunch!!!

victory-scream while holding the heinous swing at the end – picture taken while the actual send-burn!!! with the “head-first-compression beta” the crux sits right at the end – the move to the right (pic above) is at the limit of my span and to hold the following swing took everything i had left in the tank - there is easier beta, but i liked this compression-part so much more i just had to go for it anyway ;) picture by @cat__ballou

so its about time to switch again - onto the next journey - cause its all about the process, the experiences you make; the people you meet; after so much time you start to understand that the final destination doesn’t really matter that much anymore dare to dream big - put in the time and work - focus and enjoy the process - eventually you will send - its all in your mind!!!  

--> movie of the send will be out when i get some more time - will go rather climbing if that happens though ;) - uncut movie will be out soon on @mellowclimbing

on a side note: i was neither able to climb dave's or dai's original beta. what they had climbed was/is even by today's standards super hard!!! and they both had been ahead of their time!!! lucky me there was more suitable beta for me. for me and my beta it still felt like an 8C boulder. may not the hardest (and there is for sure even better beta to climb it), but it would not make much sense to me to call it 8B+. it took its time, i was in good shape; found some beta in „my style“ but still had to dig deep and fight really hard. but most importantly; it was a great journey; this process again that you can turn the impossible into the possible - if you dare to dream big, take your time and keep going no matter what, but still try to act smart - and most of all: it was simply damn fun to climb on this iconic line!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Short video to my journey with BIG KAT, 8B+

thank you everybody for your encouraging feedback to keep going for my epic's - actually i am in the middle of another one... ;) but more to this one later....

some people have asked if i could make a short vid about the  100+ days process of my journey with BIG-KAT in addition to the more detailed blog i have written . i am not really good at doing video nor do i have the time (work you know... i rather climb when i have some time or spend time with my beautiful wife). but here you go. did put together a short flick. hope you like it. but be warned; some nudeness, screaming, desperation, cursing, and big joy at the end :)

for the full story check my blogpost below: BIG KAT, 8B+. The story to yet anther EPIC

Thursday, March 8, 2018

BIG KAT, 8B+. The story to yet anther EPIC

it may takes me some time to finally climb my projects. but till now i did get them all :) what blows my mind again and again is the process and the journey with each of that amazing lines and still with being 40years old by now what you actually can do when you really want something, when you are passionate, persistent and patient enough and when you are willing to put in the work time and to sacrifice some things - not chocolate though ;)

i already managed to climb "Big-Kat" one and a half years ago (time flies when you get older...) and wanted to do a video-blog ever since to document the process because i really got kicked my (fat) ass a LOT over two years of trying it on and off and had to dig deep to finish it. work, life and climbing got in the way though and i just managed to finish this blog (kind of) right now. the message and the process is timeless though. so here you go with the story and the process to one that did NOT GET AWAY: "BIG KAT, 8B+".

and it was once again not the "usual" three-day-epic. to give a better understanding of what it means to really test your limits i did put together this video-blog. as you can see in the different sequences failure is the name of the game in 99.99% of the time. not glorious at all but it teaches you a lot when you fail. fail again. fail better. send!!!

a special moment when you have failed for so long...
...finally getting onto that 5m slab to top out BIG KAT, 8B+

it seems i have the funny talent to go for bouldering-projects that i can relative quickly climb every time from either one move in or up to the last move. but usually not link it all together. it was not six years of falling at the last move as in the "highlander, 8C" at sustenpass but i still ask myself how i could fail for so long as i could climb big sequences pretty fast. but a very insecure toe-hook at the very first move and also the next foot move troubled me a lot. and when being able to link the start the beta for the upper part was just slightly too insecure as well, or conditions have been shit, or i was too tired after work or whatever. i did fall on EVERY single move. i had to readjust every little bit of beta till it worked perfectly on link. i even fell twice from the top-mantel and this despite having it done a hundred times. turned out it was just too hard when having cold fingers/being super tired. so i went back on the rope for 3hrs and found a slightly better micro-beta. that was the last missing part to the puzzle. next time i was up there i floated up the mantle. perfect ending to another perfect journey.

for sure it would (have been) be "smarter" to go home, train, get back stronger and just send. but then in the end its all about what your motivation is in climbing. as i was young(er) it was all about sending boulders, move on, next one... get as much as you can. but the longer i climbed the more i got interested in the process; solving a puzzle and find a sequence that not just works but that climbs fluid and nice is THE thing for me. i often climb boulders may a bit harder cause i like a particular move/sequence. i really don't mind, very egoistic i do that for myself. i do climb and train indoors as well and i even can enjoy this sessions but i want to be "outside", bouldering on "real rock". i organized my whole life, skipped a career in (big) business (thats what you normally go for with a master in business and economics) to be out there bouldering on rocks. i already enjoy the drive to the boulders, the anticipation, the warm up, the cleaning of the holds (can people please start to clean the holds before they leave!!!), the padding, to get ready for tries on my projects, to find subtle microbetas, to understand moves, body positions, to laugh, to scream, to have fun, to be angry, to be totally focused, to climb, to move. and you can "train" on your projects as well just not nearly as efficient (skin, conditions etc...).

THE one move that got the better out of me: a toe-hook from which i never could say if it stayed or came off despite me being 100% sure i did the exact same move every time. i finally found a body placement that put up the sucess-rate but then made it more difficult to get the next move done. this resulted in me slipping off from move (foothold) two again and again.

i (re) cleaned this line years ago (did not know at that time that @dave graham was already trying this for a bit back in the old days) and was trying it for a bit on and off while working on "der mit dem fels tanzt" and "insanity of grandeur". it felt quite hard and i showed it to numerous people. but nobody really was interested (may cause there was no vid, so no quick tick for quick points ;). then super strong jimmy web came a long and did the FA of the line calling it "big kat, 8B+". suddenly it got more attention and it has been repeated a few times by now. but nobody came even close to repeat it with jimmy's original beta. way too hard. and he thought his way was soft. haha. BEAST!!! the sds is still is a project though. feels nails and morpho. but should be possible for the strong ones with enough wing span. go for it!!!

because i am an old weak lad i then used a kneepad for a knee bar; you think this was an easy move then? 
well go there and try... ;)

i never ever had so many slipping toe- and heel hooks. i knew i was physically ready after the first season working it - but sometimes when i felt strong and wanted to climb it super controlled i pulled myself up too high and suddenly lost the heel- and/or toe-hooks, sometimes i was too low, then my shoe broke on the heel, on my toe... i also slipped a lot off because of numbing out, dry firing or greasing off... even a few times from the move to the lip.

next problem was the heel hook from the standing-start. this was easy for me from the standing-start, even from the second move in, but i lost this heel again and again coming from the real start and on the next match-move i slipped off again and again as well.

the solution here was that i placed my heel 3!!!cm higher before the match and it did not slip one more time!!! i tried this before but it did not work as i then lost my heel one move before. so i had to replace it in between the two moves..... micro-beta!!!!

and then you feel super strong and 100% sure you are going to send. you pull up too high and you just slip off footholds
.... haha

and so i finally was ready to send. but the next problem was the good rail where you had to match. as it was getting warmer and warmer the friction got very bad. i had a few days with super strong foen wind. but then it was so dry that my skin turned into glass and i just slipped off. watch in the vid how desperate i try to "find friction".

fighting bad conditions.

all this can lead to frustration as well. especially the slipping off (despite still having power) got me sometimes really angry. but that was lasting normally just for a few seconds. then i was all about analyzing and getting ready for next try because up to today i got them all.

to "save" your ears i disabled the sound here. its not "nice" and i am not proud of it but its part of the process and it feels so good to relief some steam from time to time... even though its not a swizzy-thing to be that "outgoing"... ;)
i really don't mind falling off boulders because i am tired or too weak. but i don't like slipping off. so this big-cat-thing was a real test. i was really close but could not send it. so i stepped back and deconstructed every move in the crux again and put it down into the ground - but there is still a sds waiting.. ;)

when you miss all the good conditions then you have to go this extra mile again. as night sessions (at 3am) and foen-wind did not work as it was just too warm in spring. the friction was really bad and i just kept sliding off the holds, even once going for the lip. so i simply went back on a regular afternoon after lunchtime and after working in the morning. it was mid may and already 20+C in chirionico at the parking. so it was way too warm. there was nobody around, no wind... but i finally had my perfect beta and the will to put this beauty (and/or beast) down before summer would hit hard with temps in the 30C range. so i did pull on - and finally did put it down into submission.

the SEND-GO was a nice one as i did just one little minor error. just loving it when the pieces finally come together and one move flows into the next :) but it was a real fight. its always a big fight for me. it never felt easy when i sent a longstanding project. never!!!

with the right beta i could have climbed this already one year earlier. but then again. i am loving the process and its also my "training" and the thing that keeps me going. solving the puzzle so every move went down perfectly and smooth into the next was what i enjoyed most. onto the next one!

finally THE send of BIG KAT  - 
a special moment when you failed for so long
- mid may, mid day - 20+Celsius - shitty friction - nobody around  - but put it into the ground
- finally the perfect go -

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Defanti" in chironico (lavorgo)

Disclaimer; I don't get anything out of this blogpost (no $$$, no nothing). i simply like the food, the place and the people running the place who are really passionate about cooking and are very kind hosts as well and also care for us boulder-freaks ;)

spring is here in southern swizzy and ticino-season is in full swing! so where to eat and stay when bouldering in chronic and you are for once not into pizza and dirtbag?! Where to go when you quickly are in need of some food, grocery things, chalck, another crashpad, tape, headlamp or guidbook?!

cesare, owner of hotel "defanti" just purchased two saturn-moonpads which you can rent at the hotel "defanti". there are even three more pads to rent out.

well try hotel "defanti" in lavorgo. its located right at the base of the valley before heading up to the boulder area of chironico. its a nice little restaurant and hotel and has small grocery shop inside as well. i can really recommend the hotel and the restaurant. the hotel its nice nice and the rooms clean with very comfy beds (ask for the rooms with new mattresses). tell them that you are bouldering and you even get the special "boulder"-discount for your stay!

after a hard day bouldering jesse bonin (@jessejessjeh)
 enjoying some delicious desert at restaurant "defanti" in lavorgo/chironico

if you are into something different then pizza for once you have to get dinner at "defanti"! sandra and cesare really care about their place and about food. its not as cheap as a pizza, but (for switzerland) very reasonable prized. you absolutely have to try the "stone-soup" and  the dessert "flirt" (ask for it even if it is not on the menu). when you want to go for dinner on saturday may call/ask for a reservation. its normally filling up fast on saturdays.

there is also a little grocery-shop where you get everything you need. you can also rent out some moon-crashpads. get chalck, tape and the ticino's bouldering guidebooks. all you need to be and get a happy boulderer ;)

Monday, December 5, 2016


well, actually a lack of updates. sorry for that, but i was just too busy (with work) the last few months. and when i have some spare time i rather go climbing then writing up blogs (not) - sorry for that ;)

i therefore decided to put up an instagram-account as its way less time-consuming. feel free to follow my climbing-adventures there (klick on the pic below).

if i manage it i will still (from time to time) put up a more into details blog-post here on my blog.

keep rocking, martin

Thursday, June 9, 2016

highlander, 8C - finally - the (s)end

2016 - what to do (change) to finally send the "highlander"?! i did make a plan - and it worked out :)
pic by

in winter 2016 i sat down at my table at home. i knew i had to change some things. i was getting 39 years old. and i could just not "afford" to go down on that last move off the "highlander" for another six years. i knew i lacked crimp-power. the short "hangboard-test" back in 2013 and in fall 2015 had shown me the potential. so i decided to go for that again. luckily my fingers managed to cope better this time. still not a 100% but better. i reduced my workload at my job for better recovery (=more sleep!!!) and more flexibility to be at the crag when conditions were prime. 

as the "highlander" is pretty long (around 30moves) i needed "endurance" as well. so i was three times a week at the gaswerk-climbing-gym for some 30minutes-non-stop-climbing-sessions. very easy routes. max 5a. it was all about active recovery and building up some basic endurance. (people were laughing at me doing these easy climbs. but i always was more interested in who laughs last. this was followed by some core-workouts, antagonist-training and stretching. the stretching was important as well as there is a crucial foot-move in the middle of the crux. with enough flexibility you do not have to pull so hard on the holds to replace your foot.

last but not least and may the hardest part; i did cut my daily after dinner chocolate-intake from 50-100g to 25-50g and went for some light running/biking three times a week. this resulted in my weight going down from 72.5kg to 69kg.

2016 - first signs of better power. first ascent of the sds to the beautiful "heritage" in valle bavona

pic by

already in march we had some unusual warm weather up in the higher mountains. so off i was to sustenpass to make use of the great spring-conditions. there was still a lot of snow. so i had to walk up two hours with my splitboard and shovel off snow for hours. but it was totally worth it. it’s truly beautiful up there when the road is closed. and thanks to some nice "foen-wind" the air was not too cold but super dry. friction from hell. and i immediately could see the difference to the last years. the crux sequence suddenly felt super solid. even easy. i finally managed to step up my game and leave that five-year plateau. i clearly was stronger then ever before.

first crux of the "highlander"
- it took some time to feel comfortable doing it without a pad... pic by

this was the moment i got nervous again. i did not feel like that for years. but now i really knew this spring was different. i felt in great shape and already on my second day up there i managed to get through the crux move for the very first time ever. after falling off that move for six years this was a really surreal moment. interesting enough i still could feel my fingertips. despite just some eight degrees and bit wind.

first crux of the "highlander" - physical.
pic by

at the resting point i could feel how i got tired. so i decided to go for it. this last five-move-7B-sequence is really powerful. and almost everybody who climbs "le reve de faire, 8B" (the second part of the "highlander-project") goes down there at least once. already years ago i had sworn to myself that i would not let go there when coming from the "highlander-start". i had the beta dialed. i was able to climb it really really tired.

bad thing was i had no pinky on the second last hold and did not catch the hold perfectly. with the last remaining power i was able to match the hold. i tried to bump my left hand into the little slot but missed it. one split second later my fingers did open their grip and sent me back onto the pads. sitting down in the pads i did not know if i should be happy to finally have made it through the crux orbe angry i managed (so martin like) to go down on the very last move.

going for the move that sent me down for six years - looks easy on the picture. but it is not. at least not for me.
pic by

three days later i was back there. and sure enough it did not happen. i was failing three times super close on the crux move. then bad weather hit. snow again. lucky me the following week i had some free days. day one was spent with hiking up with my splitboard again. shoveling the fresh snow off. day two i was up there for climbing. this time ready to finish the business. 

first try was very good. i did stick the crux-move but lost my feet. i did hold the swing but dry-fired off in the very last moment. BIG bummer. this was a big effort and i was really tired. i needed over two hours of rest and lots of food. when i was somehow ready again it already was 7:30pm and getting cold at 2'000 meter above sea level. so i literally was running trough the sequences to be faster than the cold. suddenly i was up there in the crux-sequence again. the move never ever went so solid. perfect climbing. no error. i felt still strong and after a short rest did set up for that last sequence. 

setting up for the last part. easier terrain. but very physical. gets the better of you when you are really tired.
went down once up left on the last move. and was so close on falling on the very last move on the send go as well!!!
pic by

and again my pinky was not on the hold. but this time i managed to rearrange it and go for the final move. then while going for the intermediate sloper i suddenly was empty. i was hanging there. but i could feel that if i would do something with my left arm i would fall down. if i would do something with my right arm i would fall down. i was unable to move and i was laughing at myself that i would go down with the finish-jug in front of my face.

in an act of panic and desperation i bumped my right hand up out of the shoulder. somehow it stayed on the second and better sloper. now all i had to do was to lock with my right and go with my left to the monster-finish-jug. easy. but watching my right arm in pure disbelief it just did not do anything. then instincts and experience of twenty years of climbing  kicked in. i flagged my left leg and kicked it hard twice. the resulting swing got my left arm to the intermediate and finally - thirteen years after i first tried this line - into the big finish-jug. it was done. i could not really believe it. may i still can't today.

thirteen years after touching it first. finally on top of the "highlander".
pic by

arriving at the top i was so tired i had to sit/lay down for a few minutes. i literally was not able to stand. sitting there on top of the boulder all alone in the middle of this natural amphitheater of big mountains i could see the moon rising. nearly too much to take. after packing up and leaving the "highlander" i may have had my best moment in all this years up there.  the ride and hike down at 9:30pm in bright full moon light with my splitboard was just amazing. words can not describe these moments.

to finish this story i would like to say thanks to all my friends and people who i met and supported me during this journey. in the end i climbed it just by myself. but i am well aware it would not have been possible without all of you. now i can finally quit climbing and start playing chess ;)

on the approach/way down when the road is still closed. as beautiful as it gets!

this may sounds cliché. but after spending so much time up there, putting a grade to the "highlander" seems totally irrelevant to me. when you spend thirteen years of your life to climb a line it really does not matter anymore if its a 6A, 7A, 8A, 9A, 10A... it simply does not matter anymore. all i wanted was to climb that line i had imagined all these years ago. the question was: would i climb it. or not. 
for me it’s my hardest boulder for sure. i was not able to complete the highlander when i climbed all the other harder boulders i did in the past years. so for me it's in the  8C-area...  - ("soft" - (because i am so strong) to swing with the mainstream these days). but then i was sooooo close again and again over the years. and its not really my style. its more about finger power. and finger power is not where i am particularly strong and its pretty long. when i finally climbed through the crux-sequence on my send-go it did not feel that super hard anymore. but that was because i am clearly stronger then the previous years. not because the boulder got easier. and despite feeling strong through the crux i still nearly went down on the very last easier move to the finish jug. when something is at your limit it gets tricky. its may a big step up for me. but for somebody stronger its may just a minor step up from other problems. well i have problems myself sometimes to say if something is 6A or 6A+... ;)

so i am sure others will find this easier. may there is better beta (i will write another blog about this). and others will find it hard(er). everybody has his own perception of difficulty. and that is totally ok. grade-discussions about "norming" a grade for "everybody" therefore normally are pointless. you just can not (literally) force somebody else to how hard a route/boulder has to feel for him/her. and if you climb a bit longer you may see one day that there is a lot more to enjoy in climbing then pointless discussions (in the internet) about grades. and honestly i don't really care. climbing outdoors for me is not about others in the sense of competition. i don't want to be stronger then mister or miss xxx. that is not the reason why i went up to sustenpass for thirteen years. 

i (still) have lines in mind i want to climb. some harder and some easier. with the "highlander" it was the same. this was not about others. this was all about me and this piece of rock. very selfish i know. but i am not sorry. the question was not 7A or 8A. the question was getting up or not. very simple. finally i did get up. very simple. this fact and the journey to that special day and the lessons learnt is all that matters. even though i could have just walked around the boulder to get to the top. very strange thing to spend that much (life)time for something you could get so much easier (getting to the top).  but it’s very often the same in life. it does not matter too much what you do. but it does matter how you do it. go for it. whatever this may be for you. good thing though; "there can be more then just one... "- ...and chess can wait... i am off to scramble on some rock... ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

highlander - the best and the worst

but despite great form i did not manage to send the "highlander" that season. last move. but that's not enough.

2012 - fa of "der mit dem fels tanzt, 8C". great line. amazing 3d-climbing. pic by

in late fall things turned very bad. it was a beautiful fall and i again i was close to stick was close to stick that last hard move of the highlander-project at sustenpass. the weather-forecast predicted one of the last days of the season. so i was up there one more time. it was a beautiful day with great friction and i felt super strong and did not have too cold fingers when arriving in the upper crux of the highlander-project.

very unfortunately i managed to rip of my hamstrings off from my hip bone while going for these last two moves. quite the shock. great pain. complicated surgery. eight months of rehab. no real guarantee i ever could climb (doing sports) again. for somebody loving sports and the outdoors not a nice outlook. lucky me surgery and rehab went well. but i learned for sure some lessons!

2012 - two permanent anchors in my hip-bone fixing the hamstrings to where they belong

two months after surgery i was able to walk again. one of the best days of my life!!! i was in rehab for up to five times a week. three hours of travel to get there and back home. but it was totally worth it. the pt-guys and girls have been as motivated as i was. i was working really hard on my hamstrings and for the first time ever started to regularly do some campus- and hangboard-workouts. in spring i could feel the benefits of this as i was as strong as never before. i could not wait to test my new gained power on the "highlander".

just a few days before i was officially allowed to climb outdoors again i was training indoors. i was sitting on my left heel doing a basic move. nothing special. no pain. just a little scratch. i did not pay too much attention. some days later while playing with the cats at home my knee "locked" and i was just was not able to stretch it out anymore. i really had to push hard to stretch it again. first i did not think too much about it because i was fine for days. so i went up to sustenpass again after that eight month break to test my fitness. immediately i could feel how much stronger i was. the problem was my knee that decided to lock spontaneously.

so i had to look for new beta to practically climb the "highlander" with just my right leg. this was not too helpful. it got quite a bit harder. but then i was stronger. it was crazy. after a few days i was up there in the last two moves again. but without being able to really use my right leg it was just too hard. and the knee really did not felt good. so back i was in the hospital.

2012 - hospital again: split-freegliding-meniscus. locking my knee. NOT nice!!!

the mri-pictures showed a split meniscus. one part was free gliding - this part was going into my knee and was locking it. not good. surgery did not look promising. so my doc (thanx a LOT for that) insisted to "just wait". doing nothing. he told me that there would be a small chance my body could fix this.

so coming out from eight months of rehab i was straight on my way into the next three months of rehab. that second stretch was even harder to take. in the end 2013 was spent more or less in rehab. but i am very, very, very thankful that my hamstrings are back to 99% and also my meniscus fixed itself again. what is one year when you gain another 40???!!!! at the end of the year i even was back up at sustenpass. falling off the highlander on the last two moves again. same same.

campus-boarding for the first time. very efficient. but be careful. my fingers (and elbows) could not really cope!

2014 - transforming the newly gained crimp-power to rock.
compression-climbing as its best: first ascent of "gepresster hase, 8B+". pic by

in spring 2014 i finally could transform my better crimp-power to rock and was able to make the beautiful first ascent of "gepresster hase, 8B+" just some 4m left of the "highlander-project". despite feeling and being strong i somehow managed again to not send the "main price". the highlander fought back hard and resisted one day after another. then there was an unusual wet fall and i struggled with wet holds nearly all the time. i climbed to the last moves a few times again - but no send again as well.

2015 - the right heel works fine again. what a relief. "insanity of grandeur, 8C". what a great, full package boulder!!!
pic by

winter 2015 was spent in chironico and in spring, after quite some effort, i was able to make a repetition of dai koyamada's beautiful "insanity of grandeur,8C". soon after i was back at sustenpass. i felt strong but again lots of wet holds and falling off the last moves again and again. in summer i started to change some things. i knew i had to get better crimp-power for the highlander. so when projecting on rock i did not climb till total failure anymore. instead i went home earlier to go for a hangboard-session. in just a few weeks i could already feel how i got stronger on crimps. the crux-sequence of the "highlander" never felt better before. unfortunately my fingers did not cope with the added pressure and i had to quit the hangboard-sesssions. i could do just some two climbing sessions a week. that was more or less tolerated by my fingers.

nevertheless i could feel that i was strong as never before and was now able to climb up to four times a day into the last move of the highlander. i was getting really close now. again and again i went down super close. now already touching the rescue hold. i fell there one time last time in late december. dry-firing off the while setting up for the last move. winter hit hard one day later and it was over for the season.

---> the next blog will about year thirteen up there at sustenpass... and the final (s)end... stay tuned

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

highlander - early years

my journey with the "highlander" started with my first visit to sustenpass on a late afternoon in summer 2003. my friend simon wandeler showed me the „famous" traumland-boulder for the first time. it is a stunning 30 degrees overhanging shield with four climbed lines at that time. unfortunately it sits just some ten meters above the sometimes very busy, loud and stinky road up to sustenpass. so it is a very unpleasant place to be on an sunday afternoon. therefore my absolute favorite time up there is when the road is closed from november to june. its real "traumland" (paradise) this time of the year.

view from the "highlander": when the road is closed; it is real paradise up there

standing at the parking and watching up to this big boulder i instantly realized a line of holds crossing the whole boulder from down right up to the far left. i asked simon if this line already had been climbed. he laughed. he thought i was crazy. and well he was right. later in the day i tried the "middle-part" of the line i had imagined. this is the classic "traumland" and i was literally not able to do one move. nice try. but i was attracted to this big piece of gneiss nevertheless. what i did not know at that time was that i would be back climbing on this line for every year for the following 13 years.

2004 - way back in time while checking out the first part of the "highlander".
pic by

over the years i climbed lots of the classic problems up at sustenpass. the big line, the "highlander-project" was always in the back of my mind. but i knew it was way too big. so first i climbed the middle part, the classic "traumland". after climbing "le reve de faire", the second part of the "highlander-project" it was finally time to really go for it.

but i had to bail out pretty fast. i quickly realized that it was still way over my head. instead i opted to first top out via the easier and very classic"traumland". this was already a hell of a fight. but i got it back in 2010 when i was able to complete this easier version of the"highlander"-project. a nice line itself; "ikarus" ends at the traumland-finish and"deadalus" toping out.

2010 on the first ascent of the direct topout "ikarus/deadalus". "highlander" goes left from there.
pic by

feeling fit and having all the parts dialed i was back a few days later and went for a try on the real "highlander-project". i was pretty confident as compared to "ikarus/deadalus" its basically just two more (semi-hard) moves to the left. then a not really good restpoint followed by an not to underestimate topout to the left. i had two really good tries but went down setting up for that last hard move out left. then winter hit. but i was confident to send it the next season. that was not a total hybris with being twice already in the last move. just one more move. little did i know that it would take me nearly six years to finally stick that one more move.

going the extra-mile. 2hrs walk by split board. reward is a beautiful setting and perfect conditions

every year i was up there falling on the last two hard moves. battling wet holds when i was in great shape, missing perfect conditions because of illness, bad skin, too much work, broken holds, blew my knee, blew my fingers. once in the middle of the crux-section a foothold broke. making it just a little harder. but it took me two weeks to get to the last two moves again. and then winter hit. at your limit the difference between possible and impossible its very small. 

the most frustrating thing was to have really good tries, falling down at the last move and then coming back three days later and somehow not getting the first crux done anymore which is way lower in the boulder. and the craziest thing was that at the end of the day i still was able to climb all the hard climbing from just three hard moves in despite being super tired.

broken foothold from the crux-sequence - this did not make it easier...

my main problem though was (and still is) "cold fingers". arriving in the upper crux i usually could not feel the holds anymore. even in the middle of summer. this was not just "too cold". i somehow managed to press all the blood out of my fingertips. resulting in numb fingers. that resulted in countless dry-fires off the crux-sequence. i tried everything to avoid this. tried to activate blood circulation by running or putting my hands in ice-cold water.

or i tried to "shake out" quickly in between moves. this however just needed more power and the fingers on the other hand got cold because i had to hold on even more while "shaking out". it turned out that summer was even worse. because of the missing friction i had to dig even deeper and pressed all the blood out of my tips. with decent friction i did not have to press that hard on the holds and did not get such "cold" fingertips.

trying everything to get this circulation in my fingertips started.. ;)

somehow the years passed and i fell down again and again on this last two hard moves. but i did not even think about quitting. you can’t quit when there is just one more move to go. can you? and believe me, over the last six years. every time i was up there i was a 100% sure THIS would be the day. i mean. why not?! just one more move to go!!! 

despite feeling stronger over the years and climbing up to three times a day into the last crux i somehow just did not make it happen. i slipped off so many times with cold fingers. i lost count.

--->  the next blog will be about coming very close to finish the "highlander" and then injuring myself really bad while going for that last two moves and the following one year rehab.... stay tuned...