Ueli Steck on His Alpine Solos
and a New Route on GII
You said that the history behind the Bonatti route was a true inspiration for your ascent. Messner said long time ago: “If someone wants to go ahead of others in climbing, he should first look back at the whole history, and then he will know where to go”. Would you agree?
Sure! This is the problem we have at the moment. Everybody thinks they have to open new routes while often they have never repeated the old hard ones. How can you say your route is harder when you don’t know the others?
In alpine sportclimbing it is very typical. I climbed the Letzte Ausfahrt Titlis almost on-sight. The 8a+ pitch I climbed redpoint on the second try. Last year I tried Cleopatra 8a, an old route on Wendenstöcke. I can do the moves but didn`t climb it redpoint… That’s only an example, there are many many routes like this… So first you have to climb the old stuff and then you go for new routes!
The last topic is Gaherbrum II. I remember from descriptions of Dan Mazur’s team, that the approach to the Chinese side of Gasherbrum II, via Shaksgam River Valley, is a nice experience itself. How do you remember this journey?
It was a good trip. It was very nice to be out there with the camels in this beautiful scenery. We walked 5 days without seeing any tourist. I think for me it was the first time to really enjoy an approach to a mountain. Of course, at the end I was happy to see the mountain finally as we walked for 5 days trough valleys without a view on any high mountain.
Working in a bigger team is something you’re rather not used to. What are your feelings?
At first the plan was to acclimatize with the whole group and then trying an alpine style ascent of the main sumit of G2. Soon it was clear the line to the G2’s main summit was just too dangerous. So everybody was on the same route.
I remember that for me it was the first time working in a big team, and I enjoyed it very much. Fact is that climbing in a big team makes some things much easier but for me it surely is not the way to climb mountains. We had a good time and we worked perfect together, otherwise no one would reach the summit. However I think that more than 3 people together is not a mountaineering anymore. For me it was some nice experience and, at the same time, just a step further to climb high mountains in the real style.
At first you planned to climb direct line up the north face but snow conditions made you change objectives. Was the planned line the one tried in 1998?
Yes, it’s the same one. But it was not the snow conditions that changed our plan, but seracs.
Actually the biggest difficulty you fought against on the chosen line was deep snow.
Deep snow makes high altitude climbing difficult. Technically the route is a piece of cake. Still for me it was a good training, after 2 summit attempts it’s hard to get motivation for the the third one…
What are your plans for the next climb?
I will tell you when I am back. I would like to try a new solo route on some 8000m peak. In next 3 weeks I will have a look on it.