Andreas Bindhammer about St. Anger (8c+/9a)
During Easter Andreas Bindhammer put up a new route in Arco, Italy. He estimated St. Anger as 8c+/9a. In this interview he is talking about his latest accomplishment, the preparations for it and his next goals for 2008.
Congratulations on completing St. Anger. The moves look really impressing. Is this why the route was waiting so long for its first ascent? What is so special about it?
Thank you. To be honest I was not expecting that I would climb the route already on the fourth day. In the past years I was trying the moves several times and every time I was exhausted before even getting to the moment when a lunge was required. I could not imagine the lunge, and what’s more I could not imagine making it in such a controlled way so as to catch the next hold. In the last years maybe 10% of tries of only this move ended with success. Climbing all the passage seemed impossible to me.
Christian tried to solve the problem with an intermediate hold, in order to shorten the distance of the lunge. But in spite of making the move easier his solution was producing further difficulties. That’s why I stayed with my brute variant.
In general the maximal endurance required on the route plus the combination of extremely difficult passages are making St. Anger so challenging. The difficulty is always over 8b with two sequences, that in my opinion, are in the 8 grade of the boulder scale.
You estimated the route 8c+/9a, which is only marginally more difficult than the neighboring Zauberfree (8c+). Don’t you think that, considering the years of unsuccessful tries by several climbers, the route could be estimated as more difficult?
I was already asked this question. My answer was and still is: for smaller climbers it’s 9a, for taller probably 8c+. For me, and I think Christian, who was trying the route intensively in the last years, would agree, the route is 9a. But at the same time I can imagine that the moves can be easier for someone taller. That is why I proposed the distinction. The decision if it is correct or not, I will leave to the climbers who will repeat the route.
So your personal estimation is 9a… In this case do you think this route is the most difficult one in Arco? How would you compare its difficulty to “Underground” that is similarly graded?
I think Underground and St. Anger are not to be compared. For example comparing with Zauberfree (that is a strong 8c+) St Anger is definitely more difficult. Underground is very special: it has good rest points and extremely difficult boulder passages leading through an enormous overhang. So, just like for example Action Directe, St Anger is difficult to compare with other routes.
Why was exactly this year’s try successful for you? Why not earlier? Did you prepare in some special way this time?
From the middle of 2007 my training almost exclusively consisted of bouldering on natural rock and projecting difficult routes. Last summer and autumn I was able to repeat all the demanding boulders and traverses in Allgäu. In winter together with Christian we used sunny days to climb new boulder projects, we also trained intensively on artificial walls.
Through a special training of the upper part of the body and stretching I achieved more stability. Maybe the key to success was working on enhancing my fingers and the body endurance.
Why did you name the route St. Anger?
It is a straight reference to Metallica band. Their music was accompanying me during my whole climbing life. During the long time of their activity and many good and bad moments they never lost the joy of playing music. When you listen to them you hear exactly the same energy as 20 years ago. This is what I feel regarding climbing. I enjoy it just like I did before.
The name really fits to the route: it was occupying me for years, I was like a pilgrim visiting a holy place year after year. And finally it was accomplished with an enormous amount of controlled anger. I hope that this explains my choice of the name. ;)
And what are your plans for this season? Should we expect your participation in competitions?
In general I would like to do things that I enjoy – rock climbing. There are several difficult routes where I want to try. The choice however depends on my personal calendar – sometimes I cannot do everything I would like to do.
As for the competitions, I have decided to take part in all the national competitions this year. I will also try to qualify for the EM in Paris, which requires participating in all World Cup competitions.
In any case I hope I will still manage to reconcile my profession and sport.
Thank you for the interview and good luck this season.