BD athlete Ines Papert reports on Schwarze Madonna, her new six-pitch 8a+ in the German Alps
BD athlete Ines Papert has been on quite a run in 2012 with a host of new routes and big repeats. There’s still a few more weeks left in 2012, and Papert isn’t letting any of it go to waste—as is evident by her latest new route in the German Alps, a six-pitch line with difficulties up to 8a+. Below is her report and a handful of photos from Franz Walter.
In 2008 I continued a line with Stefan Rass that had been started by Michael (Gschlossei) Grassl on the southwest face of the Untersberg in the Hochthron, Berchtesgadener Alps, Germany. I was thankful for Gschlossei`s permission since I had studied the line several times. Stefan and I bolted the route in a direct line from the bottom. After technically climbing the route it became clear that a free ascent could be rather difficult. I didn’t know back then that it would take four whole years until I could redpoint the route.
During my tries on the route I had doubts that I could send the project at all due to my height—the crux is in the slab part of the route turned out to be a length problem for me. I never gave up hope that one day, despite my stretched out position, my left foot wouldn’t slip from the slopey foothold. Grip would be the decisive factor. Constant doubts. Should I let a stronger climber try the route? I’m not a big fan of occupying a route.
The only time of year that promised success due to cooler temperatures was late autumn. But I had either already planned expeditions or early snowfall foiled my plans. Another reason why I probably didn’t plan enough time was surely because the route was right in front of my doorstep and “waiting” for me.
Several tries with climber friends of mine. I had to accept that it would take some effort to free the six pitches. This autumn, after my Baffin Island expedition, I was more motivated than ever before. A call to my friend Lisi Steurer was all it took. The East Tirolean mountain guide was at my home in September. We took advantage of every good day. We got used to the long approach. Thanks to our similar build my solutions were right for her and the other way around. Thanks to Lisi, I started believing in a free ascent.
On October 6th we stood at the base of the climb. Perfect autumn conditions. Convinced we would be successful today. I was able to climb the first pitch before the warm temps sent in for the first time. It was damn close – absolutely no strength left in my forearm – as I exultantly reached the first belay without falling. Lisi let me down immediately. Now she was leading. I really wished she could send the pitch. But her foot slipped from the slab – as mine did many times before – and she fell into the rope just before the belay. Lisi’s second try also failed. We decide to continue with the route. I send all other pitches that beautiful autumn day—with great effort—at first go, even the 7c last pitch.
In the late afternoon Lisi and I reach the top. To be able to share this very special day with my friend means a lot to me. We agree on me coming along with Lisi until she sends it, too. Later I’m really thrilled about a call from Korbinian Rieser, a real climbing veteran in Berchtesgaden. Korbi tried the route and said: “ Great line you did there, Ines. Absolutely sensational climbing on compact limestone. Congratulations, really!!”
The name of the route, Schwarze Madonna (Black Madonna) maybe needs some explaining: my then 8-year-old son chose Bata Ilic’s pop song with the same title as his favourite at the time and knew the lyrics by heart. That earworm was my constant companion not only during the first ascent but also at many family celebrations. The biblical substantiation of “I am dark but beautiful” also fits perfectly to the dark streak that makes its way up the south face of the Untersberg. She is the hardest and with that the “mother” of all routes on the Untersberg, my local mountain at which I began climbing.
180m face height
Route name: Schwarze Madonna (Black Madonna)
Suggested grade: 10- (8a+)
6 pitches (8a+, 7a, 6c, 7b+, 7c, 6a)