Saturday, December 31, 2011

Austrians in Highball Paradise

Katharina Saurwein of Austria, and former overall lead World Cup champion of 2008 Jorg Verhoeven from the Netherlands (both now living in Innsbruck, Austria), have been out in Bishop since around December 12 and have already completed some impressive ascents. Of particular note was Katha's ascent of This Side of Paradise (v10), the mammoth highball prow at the Bardini Boulders, and Jorg's ascent of Ambrosia at the Peabodies.

I met these guys out in Zillertal, Austria a few years back when Lisa Rands presented a video by Sender Films in which she climbs This Side of Paradise. It was the incredible beauty of the line that really drew Katha's attention, and she made it her mission to give it a try. Unfortunately, after arriving in Bishop about a year ago (shortly before Christmas), heavy snow reduced access across the Buttemilk Country and their highballing plans were put on hold. Undaunted, they returned this time and things went a lot better.

After making the moves on a top rope, Katha went for the ascent and topped out to become only the second woman to do the line. On one try, she took a fall from just below the crux and said her legs were still sore four days later. No surprise, as she only had two pads beneath her!

Katha has also pulled off ascents of Golden Shower (v10 highball at the Pollen Grains), and Xavier's Roof (v11), among others. As for Jorg, he claims not to be feeling so great and spending his time shuffling their two foam mats about while Katha climbs. Even so, he did drag the pads over to Ambrosia to check that one off. Hey, when you only have a pair of pads to use in Bishop, you have to be thankful for such forty-five-foot-tall lines. As Jorg matter-of-factly explains, "The lower part to the hueco you can do with two pads and at the top you can't fall."

It should be noted however, that after renowned soloist Alex Honnold (second ascent) told Jorg it, "probably wouldn't be a good idea," Jorg decided against a ground-up approach and ran a TR on the line first.

"Scary, scary scary," is German for something I guess, and you can read more (all in that language) at Katha's website.  Also, for comments in English, and for some sweet photos, please check out Jorg's blog.

Meanwhile, here's a little vid:

Katha Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven Highballing in Bishop. 'Ambrosia' V11, 'This side of Paradise' V10 etc from katharina saurwein on Vimeo.


Reed said...

Very surreal to come around the corner and see someone topping out Ambrosia with two pads.

Ghostchant said...

Really great sends and vid, and not to bitch about, but just for stats, Jorg is from Netherlands although he currently lives in Innsbruck.

Keep up with great blog, cheers :)

Wills Young said...

Thanks Ghostchant, I've added that, in the main text at least. Sorry for the mistake!