|What was your general impression of climbing in Lofoten? This place would be paradise. Unfortunately the bad weather is typical for this region. Judging by the fact you did such a good climb, I guess you were at least a bit lucky with the weather. So I suppose you did also some other climbs… |
As you said, bad weather is typical for Lofoten. We climbed Freya during a short window of good weather. Then we had to climb only boulders and short routes because it was raining for a few hours every day. But boulders get dry very quickly and are beautiful, as well as the Lofoten nature.
Now, let’s talk about Fram on Marmolada. Fram was sometimes considered as a route and sometimes just as a project. Please explain what was the point?
Fram was an Igor Koller´s (Slovakia) long term project on the south face of Marmolada, running between The Fish and Via Italia. After some years and many attempts (I think the first was in 1989) he stopped at one and a half pitch above the Fish Cave. Then he opened the project for other climbers, who would like to try it in the same style, and he did himself some other tries too. In such a way Fram was established as a variant to the Fish Cave as well as Via Italia and many climbers climbed it in this way.
As far as I know you already started working on the independent finish of the route in 2004, but you haven’t finished the project yet , have you?
In fact I was in front of the wall with this idea some years ago but the weather was bad. At that time we did first RP ascent of Minuzzo Diretissima on Torre Venezia (RP7c E2), so the team didn’t have big motivation for accomplishing my plan in bad weather. The similar situation was in 2004. We spent twenty or twenty five days in the Dolomites, mostly at Tre Cime, and mostly in bad weather. We made there two new routes: Robinson Crusoe (7b E3/E4), to the right side of Alpenrose (we climb Alpenrose OS) on Cima Grande and Spechio di Monica (6c+ E3) on Torre Preuss. We also climbed RP route Couzy (8a+) on Cima Ovest. Then we moved to Marmolada and after reaching the Fish Cave we were quite exhausted. My friend Jan Doudlebský had frostbite problems with foot fingers after Nepal expedition and he frosted a little on Alpenrose. He couldn´t climb and I decided I was not fit enough for such a demanding ascent. But at least, after night in the Fish Cave, we finished the second pitch above the cave using skyhooks only (but no bolts). Then I swung there and found small pockets for free climbing. We rappelled down but at least I had an idea how to make it. In 2005 I and two of my friends, Vašek Šatava and Pavel Jonák came back and in five days finished the route to the big ledge, which was the Igor Koller´s main idea. It is possible to continue to the top, but the line probably won´t be logical, because there is loose overhang above the ledge. The section between the Fish Cave and the big ledge was definitely the main problem of the line..
Tell me about the character of the pitches which existed before, the ones below the Fish cave. I remember descriptions from Polish attempt on this route telling that there can be some problem with route finding.
Finding the route is general problem on Marmolada. You stay in the technical slab with small holds and have no idea where to go. On Fram it happens on the last pitch to the cave especially. In 2004 I reached the cave from the right side, in 2005 Vašek from the left side. And both could be 7a+.
At the same time Polish climbers stressed the beauty and quality of climbing…
Fram is really beautiful climbing. The pitches under the cave can be compared to Verdon, the rock above the cave is Buoux-like; fantastic quality, steep with small finger pockets.
Tell me about character and protection on the last three added pitches
We continued in the ethic in which the route had been started. There are some bolts, but not too many; maximum is three in one pitch. You have to be able to use tricams and nuts and climb some runouts.
I can see that you transfer sandstone ethics and tactics to the mountains, doing and grading pitches in AF which is not as popular a way (but of course very natural). Please tell me what is your general opinion regarding this aspect.
Today sport climbing is a sort of fashion . Too big, I think. Many people are interested only in the grade of the route and in the “number”. In sport climbing reviews we could find that athlete XY climbed 3x 8a OS, 5x 8b RP, 4x 8c+ and not the name of the routes or ascenters the names of the ascenders who managed it. And if some route is graded 8b many people think it has to be harder than 8a. But in the case of the route in Kyrgyzstan or route like Freya the “number”8+ / A4 or 9/A3+ can be very senseless and misguiding. It is a very vague indication of the difficulty, but many people reduced the value of a climbing achievement into this indicator. Very often the hardest pitches are not these with the highest “number”. So our universal grade 9+AF is our little resistance to this mainstream. Of course, the competition is inevitable and I like “sport factor” in climbing. But I don´t want to be a “slave” of climbing modes and hunter for the “numbers”. OS or RP ascent of some route is only the last step but often not the hardest.
Also in AF style you and your partner from Lofoten, Jan Kreisinger, did the last big ascent last summer – this time on the “home ground” – Jet Stream on Jastrabia Veza in the High Tatras. The route turned out to be even more serious than previous ones…
Tell me about this ascent? The route was famous because of extensive use of copperheads on the difficult aid sections (which is rather unheard of in the High Tatras). How this exceptional route did look like when it was done free?
Well, Jet Stream is one of these routes, where the number is quite an important indicator of its value. It is only 150 m high. The value there is a question of poor protection connected with hard moves. It is comparable to Beat Kammerlander´s famous New Age in Ratikon: first 8a+ in Alps is only 120 m high. Jet Strem is A3+ when aid climbing. I did first aid repetition with Ricardo Jureèka some years ago. I have thought about free climbing it since then and last year I climbed it AF 9+ . RP could be around 8b and I would like to try it. There are some runouts and two possible ground falls (but not on the hardest moves). The secure points are three bolts (on all route), bird beaks, nuts and copperheads. It is three stars route as well as Freya or Fram – you climb compact 20° overhanging slab many metres above the valley and few meters above the protection:-). Yes, I would say that the aesthetic dimension of the route makes its value too, at least for me.
You used Robert Jaspers’ scale E to grade seriousness of all routes we were talking about. So I guess you liked the idea of this grading system?
Many people, not only me, found that the psychical dimension is an integral part of some types of climbing. The sport dimension of climbing calls for quantification. So Jasper´s E scale seems to me useful and proper for it. I decided to use it for my ascents where I find it reasonable ; for example not in Buox or Podzamce. There are different scales for this, for example UK system. But it´s a long term debate...
Talking about Robert Jasper, let’s switch to winter climbing. This winter you did the first free ascent of his route Rodeo WI 7/A2/E5. You graded it WI7/M8/E5. Please tell me about this ascent.
There is not much to tell you about. We wanted to try it and we did it last winter- 2005. It is polite to say that the hardest pitch was firstly climbed by my partner Jan Doudlebsky AF (one rest) and then I climbed it in one push without resting. It is very delicate and psychologically psychically demanding ice climbing. It´s nice ice. We did probably the first repetition.
And last traditional question about your climbing plans for the nearest future.
When we finish this interview I´ll go for my girlfriend Monica (it is the Valentine day) and fly to Spain; to enjoy the “sport” and hunt the “numbers”!
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