Badami, January 2015.
Things hadn’t worked out as well as he wanted for Kilian Fischhuber.
Kilian is a multiple winner at bouldering World Cups; he has also been European Champion. Besides bouldering, Kilian climbs sport routes.
Last year, as reported earlier on this blog, Kilian had opened two routes on the edge of Badami’s Temple Area crag. Both held potential to exceed Ganesha (8b+) as the toughest sport climbing route around. One route, next to an established line called Samsara, was nearly climbed by Kilian in 2014. The second, an overhanging route on the prow of a nearby rock face, seemed epic with two very hard moves as firm hurdle to overcome.
A year later in January 2015, Kilian was back in Badami with Pune based climber and fellow Red Bull athlete, Tuhin Satarkar. Etched clearly on their agenda were the pending routes. “ This time I came specifically to try one of them. Last year I was pretty close to climbing it. This time I came to finish the unfinished business. But it didn’t happen,’’ Kilian said.
Unfortunately, a chunk of time was lost ridding the said route near Samsara of a beehive. Days were lost thus. Then when the actual climbing started after the initial distraction, the route challenged. “ The moves involved are hard and powerful. The main aspect is friction. Downside is that the route bakes in the sun for many hours daily,’’ the Austrian climber, used to cooler climes, said.
Fifteen degrees, he felt, may have been ideal temperature for him. “ Now I can’t climb it. But if conditions are ideal and somebody climbed it, I think the grade would be 8c+,’’ he said. The route on the prow had been speculated last year as tougher still; the sort an Adam Ondra may be interested in should he choose to.
Comparing the route – the variation of Samsara – to Ganesha, Kilian said, Ganesha featured more powerful moves and was endurance-based. This new route had hard moves but mixed in as main ingredient – friction. It also meant, there was nothing particular that Kilian could train for while preparing to tackle it. He spent eight days trying the route in 2014. “ In all that I have climbed before, the longest was like six days. I am pretty impressed by the stubbornness of this route,’’ he said, an evening in Badami, this January.
“ In a way, I really want to climb it. I came in good shape this time. But I didn’t know if the conditions would be any better. I don’t know if a one degree variation in temperature can make any difference. I don’t know,’’ Kilian said. According to him, really tough climbing routes are typically attempted in more hospitable, cooler temperatures.
“ The route is an open project now. I will be glad to hear if someone successfully completes it. It will be great,’’ he said, accepting the situation.
About the route on the prow, Kilian said, “ the two challenging moves are more than midway up the route and should be 8a+ or 8b boulder moves. The preceding portion tires you a bit but for someone who can do it, it shouldn’t be a problem.’’
As they are unclimbed, both routes have no name yet.
2014 had been Kilian’s first visit to Badami and India.
“ The special thing about Badami is the quality of rock. However as good as the rock is, as challenging are the conditions. You have to cope with heat and humidity. Climbing at your limit in Badami is really challenging. That also makes climbing routes in Badami special. For those who do it, it becomes memorable,’’ Kilian said.
(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai)