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Leichtfried’s FA of Zweite Geige (WI7), Langental

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner went to the Southern Alps where they found the ice to be in excellent shape. After some searching, they established a new line next to the stunning Zauberflöte.

Photos by: Elias Holzknecht/woodslave productions

Ice climbing lives in the moment. This I learned over the last years. Looking for new possibilities on ice—you cannot wait for them to come to you, neither can you plan them. You have to search for new challenges. Everything starts with an idea. The idea comes from imagination. And this imagination again comes from a picture. Thus the source of an idea is a picture, a picture that shows a worthwhile possibility. Several such pictures show up throughout an ice-climbing season, but few of them turn into an idea. The reason for that is the evaluation of the picture. We have to check out, whether the idea looks like fun or not. After an ascent of the dream-route Zaberflöte (M9/WI6) at Vallunga this January we saw a line to the right, which looked worth a try.

After an intense week with the aspirant guides we were quite tired, but our motivation was high. On January 28th we got together with Elias Holzknecht, our companion behind the camera for this season. First we climbed Zauberflöte to fix a rope for Elias. We wanted to take the pics of the actual first ascent. A short time later Benny jumped on the first pitch of our project, an awkward corner with poor rock quality. After 20 meters of climbing and some cam placements he found a belay at a hanging icicle. Now it was my turn to follow this pitch with joy. The next pitch was the other way round. I had a hard time on the free-hanging ice formations. The climbing was quite demanding on the ice with many air inlays and pipes. I had to think about every movement to not destroy the hanging ice daggers. As Benny came up to the belay with a smile on his face, he just said, ”It’s way more comfortable to follow grade seven ice.” But already on the next pitch he also had to give everything. A thin smear of ice led him to the big ledge where the last freestanding pillar was waiting. These four pitches make Zweite Geige a serious but interesting line. We climbed the route clean, without the use of any bolts or pitons.

There is a trend visible on the climbing scene that many climbers think about the style of their ascents. We have been trying to climb new routes without bolts, in cases where the rock and the protection allow it. We never take high amount of risk only to climb clean. When the structure does not allow natural protection, placing bolts does not mean clashing the style. But if someone wants to compare different routes, it is important that same styles have been compared. Clean means that the route is clean before and after the redpoint ascent, which means that no gear is preplaced, and none stays on the route. Trad means that there may be pitons on the route. After all it is everyone’s choice to find a favourite style, but never forget about the fun of the thing.