If I think back at the days when I was just competing and sport climbing, I clearly remember a few lines that really inspired me, but that at the same time scared me a lot.
“Prinzip Hoffnung” was one of them.
I remember the pictures of Beat climbing on this incredible line just in the middle of the village, standing on minimal holds and using just some micro nuts to protect himself: for me it was something completely unthinkable at the time!
In the last years a lot has changed in my climbing attitude. I experienced a lot of different things and I started looking for something more intense and committing. It has been a kind of natural evolution in my climbing and life.
Last summer I went often to climb in Buers, passing by “Prinzip” every time: it was a truly eye catching line!
In those moments, I start to remember the pictures of Beat and the feelings I had while watching them: I felt that the moment to look what it looks like arrived. I wanted to see how much my climbing attitude changed and if I was ready to try something like that. For me it was a game, just as all the other climbs… but more committed.
In october, when I came back from the Kalymnos Climbing Festival, I spent a couple of days in Bludenz before our next trip; it was very hot, but I was super curious about the route, and so one evening I rapped down from to top to look how it was. I didn’t even have the climbing shoes with me and I just checked the gear, but I immediately felt in love with it. The line was simply amazing: one first crack that disappears after 25 meters, and another one that starts 6 meters above, with just some minimal holds in between. I flew to America with just one idea in my mind: to try it immediately when I come back!
… and so I did …
After our trip in the States, I spent a lot of time in Bludenz. I wanted to check it out better, and as Babsi had to work in the morning, I went alone and rapped down again from the top. The route was pretty dirty, as just a few people have tried it after the 2nd ascent of Alex, and I spent a lot of time cleaning it to find the small holds and the gear placements. I wasn’t afraid of the two cracks, as it was pretty obvious how to climb them, but the crux section was a big question mark for me. There are not so many holds in that section and it was very difficult to find the small footholds and to understand how it worked. It took me for sure a couple of hours to finally understand which was the best way to climb the crux. In december the suns shines just for one hour on the wall, so I went again a bunch of times alone for a quick session to figure out the moves and the gear.
In the meanwhile Babsi also got really motivated to have a look on it, and so we went together on a weekend to try it top-rope. It was very nice to share again the same project and to progress on it together: it’s always the best part of the whole story.
Anyways the time run fast, and after Christmas we decided to train for a period indoor to get some fitness for the next season. We basically split the time between Innsbruck and Dornbirn, deciding to try “Prinzip” later on again.
At the beginning of February, after the short training period, we came back in Buers with the goal to finish the “business” ;) The sun shined longer on the wall and it was better to try the route. We did some good progress on it and the idea to lead it started to turn in my mind. I was always so focused on how to place the gear, that I never climbed it without falling on top-rope. Anyways my mind was ready to make a lead attempt, and so I didn’t think about it and I went for it.
The first attempt wasn’t great, and I failed before the crux, but it helped me a lot to get more confidence with the gear. After another top-rope session, I came back, falling two times at the very end of the crux. The first time I fell on the last small offset nut placed before the crux, I was sure that it wouldn’t hold and that I would fall all the way to the last bomber piece; I was very surprised when it didn’t pop… it was a really strange feeling to fall without knowing what it would happen.
Our depart for Spain was getting closer and I started to worry about the time, as I was afraid that it would be too hot after 2 weeks. We planned to come back after a couple of days, but when we woke up in the morning everything was covered by snow and rain; the weather looked horrible and I was almost sure that we wouldn’t have the possibility to try it again before our flight to Spain….
… but sometimes things change really fast :)
In the afternoon the wind started to blow and the rain stopped, so we immediately drove to Buers! I couldn’t believe it: everything was dry! Babsi decided to make her first lead attempt, and after the warm up, she went for it. I have to admit that I was more stressed while belaying her, than while climbing. :) She climbed super well, and she was so focused that she forgot to place (£&)£&%”%!!!) one of the bomber gear in the middle, but unluckily she also fell before the end of the crux. It was really impressive to see her climbing!
Alex (Luger) was also there to try his project just on the right of “Prinzip” and so I gave him a belay; he didn’t send it that day, but he fell very high up, showing that it was a good “friction” day. The days were still short, and it was almost dark, but I decided to give it a go anyways. I was cold and sure that I would have to stop in the middle because of the dark, so I started without any expectations. I tried to climb really fast , in order to arrive at the crux with still some light. I felt exactly the feeling I love the most while climbing: I felt like in a bubble, focused just on what I was doing and enjoying the moment, without thinking about anything else. Everything was super smooth and I climbed trough the crux struggling a little bit to see the small footholds. When I reached the second crack and I rested before the last easier section, I could barely see 1 meter below me, and I just told to myself: …hurry up, you can not fall here! ;)
The mixed between the deep concentration and the darkness, made everything more intense: a beautiful felling, which is really hard to express with words.
When I clipped the anchor and I looked down the the lights of the village, I realized that another little dream just came to an end. I was super happy, but at the same time I was sad that everything was finished. Climbing “Prinzip Hoffnung” has probably been the best moment in my climbing life and it really opened my eyes about new prospectives.
A big thank to Beat for the vision to bring this beautiful piece of rock how it was before, showing to everybody the importance to respect such a line and to commit ourself.
A huge thank to Babsi for sharing another nice “adventure” together : those are always the best and more important memories and aspects of a project… I can’t wait for the next one! :)
Pictures copyrights: Jensen Walker