words by BERND ZANGERL
pic by RAY DEMSKI
It’s common knowledge that a journey begins with the first step. I finally made the first step of my longest ever bouldering journey in Spring 2011. Together with Fred Nicole, I discovered a spectacular bit of rock in the Indian Himalaya, which immediately grabbed my complete attention. A shallow crack-line led to two small crimps, which in turn led back up to the crack/seam. At five metres, there was a seemingly good hold – a ‘good looking’ ledge that led to the envisaged finishing point a few metres further. The holds merged instantly into a line in my mind. Hard, but manageable. I wanted to climb it. After a few days I had already reached the higher crack. The targeted good hold within reach, a part of the crack broke up under my fingers, and I landed back on the ground. On my next attempt, I realize that a part of the line is now missing. In these circumstances, the crux move is no longer possible.
In 2012 I was back in the Himalaya. The broken hold offered no more options, the jump to the ‘jug’ seemed unrealistic. I look for another way and try a jump – direct from the two crimps, up to the ledge, controlling the momentum. Since it was no longer possible to work the higher moves individually, this boulder had to be conquered ground up. Each try, with 100% commitment, with only one goal: to grab this ‘ledge’ at five metres. Considering the difficulty, this presented a new challenge for my will and motivation. The weeks went by. Centimetre by centimetre, I got closer to my goal. A few times my fingers tickle the hold.
A year later, I finally grabbed the ledge properly after many days of trying. The resulting momentum was underestimated not only by myself, but also by my spotters, who struggled to secure a safe landing for me. After many further falls, doubts crept in. My mind became tired. I’d invested too much time and effort in this single project already. It was my dream! Maybe in the future a climber with more reach could do the first ascent of this line. To me, this trip was the time to stop.