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SPRING SUMMER 2013

guido unterwurzacher and band

pakistan mayan smith-gobat

speed climbing is addictive barbara zangerl neck of the woods

feuerhörndl wolfgang

güllich

outdoor 3

t highlights spring / summer 201

adidas outdoor magazine & produc

HUBER brothers SPECIAL

walder the huber brothers and mario asc ent e mt. asgard, baffin island – team fre

bavarian direct


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all in, all one Venturing off the beaten track is usually left to folk with extraordinary character. It was a long time ago that the Huber Brothers set off on the greatest expedition of their lives: a lifelong dedication to the vertical world. From their first outings with their father to the nearby mountains, through pushing their limits in sport climbing and speed climbing, to their Baffin mission, it’s been a long journey, perhaps the most exciting journey in the world; but overall, it’s been a journey that would be nothing without the companions they met on the way – with whom they have shared a tent, success and failure, and with whom they have formed teams that possess a special intensity and bond. Over time a band of kindred spirits has formed, a colourful bunch, all looking for the extraordinary – this mag is dedicated to that tribe.


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Index

The ‘Lecco Spiders’ is the climbing club of the famous Grignetta Spiders Mountaineering Association in Italy. They can look back on a long list of international successes that stretches back more than 60 years. They have among their ranks past heroes Cassin and Casimiro Ferrari, and current big names such as Matteo Della Bordella and Fabio Palma. Over the years they have not only opened up numerous new routes but also been in the spotlight of international fame.

the huber brothers

DAV Summit Club GmbH is the German Alpine Association’s mountaineering school and special travel organizer for active mountaineering and cultural vacations worldwide. DAV Summit Club evolved from the mountaineering service of the DAV founded in 1957 and is now one of the largest mountaineering schools in the world.

The Zugspitze Mountaineering School is the mountain guide association on Germany’s highest mountain. The specialist knowledge of the team is clear from the high quality of training and tours they provide. Some are old hands with a valuable source of knowledge; others are up-to-date thanks to their training activities with various alpine associations and many tours with their clients, who they don’t only accompany up the Zugspitze.

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The Zermatt Alpin Center – founded in 1894, the Swiss association can look back on a highly successful history spanning more than 100 years. Over 60 professional mountain guides at the Zermatt Alpin Center have been relying on adidas outdoor products since spring 2011.


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adidas.com/outdoor

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baffin

BAFFIN team free ascent

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Baffin Equipment

20

technology APPAREL

22

baffin island info

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pakistan – guido unterwurzacher and BAND

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PAKISTAN specials

50

grip concept – terrex fast line

52

barbara Zangerl & charly fritzer FEUERHörndl

56

women’s best outfit

66

technology footwear

68

MAYAN SMITH-GOBAT speed record

70

REINHOLD MESSNER

76

wolfgang güllich a retrospect

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nirwana by alexander huber

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product overview

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IMPRINT outdoor Magazine & Product Highlights Spring/Summer 2013 is the official outdoor catalogue with editorial content of adidas AG. adidas Outdoor Magazine is published twice a year. Published by adidas AG World of Sports Adi-Dassler-Straße 1 91074 Herzogenaurach – Germany Concept and realisation bøa! agentur gmbh supported by Michael Meisl Photographers Michael Meisl, Max Reichel, Franz Hinterbrandner, Alexander Huber, Thomas Huber, Mario Walder, Max Berger, Jakob Schweighofer, Hannes Mair, John Dickey, Wolfgang Güllich – archive footage: Thomas Ballenberger Text Mike Mandl, Flo Scheimpflug, Guido Unterwurzacher, Eva Meschede, Chris Van Leuven, Reinhold Messner, Tilmann Hepp, Alexander Huber Copywriting and English translation wordworks all data are subject to change and are provided without any guarantee. printing and layout errors excepted. all rights reserved. may not be copied. © 2013 adidas AG. adidas, the 3-Bars logo, and the 3-Stripes mark are registered trademarks of the adidas Group.


BAFFIN ISLAND


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Team Free Ascent Mario Walder, Alexander and Thomas Huber

baffin FRIENDSHIP AT THE END OF THE WORLD

TEXT mike mandl, Flo Scheimpflug PHOTOs timeline production, alexander + thomas huber, mario walder

an adventure at the end of the world. a mission. a search. The Huber Brothers have hit the trail again. The goal: decode Mount Asgard on Baffin Island. Nobody has yet managed to free-climb the almost 1,000-metrehigh south face. And for good reason, since this challenge is at the very limit of physical and psychic feasibility. It’s a mission that is more than a match for a well-rehearsed team. The team has to become a unit, a unit that is totally dedicated to giving its all...


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baffin OUT there, all in! Thomas Huber: “A couple of pulls. No more than two or three metres. That’s not far. Nothing like as far as the ten thousand kilometres we have covered to get here and finally decode the moves needed to break these last two or three metres. Ten thousand kilometres for a couple of metres – isn’t that kind of crazy?” No. There’s no way you can compare it like that. And why? Because simply putting those numbers next to each other doesn’t begin to express the dimensions of this kind of adventure. There is one thing you learn when you are climbing: a comparison based on abstract data never adds up. The whole thing is about something else, something that goes much further than that.

SO WHAT’S IT ABOUT THEN? IT’S ABOUT MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, ENTERING THE UNKNOWN. HEADING DOWN TO ONE OF EARTH’S REMOTEST CORNERS AND FROM THERE PUSHING FORWARDs THROUGH THE MOST IMPENETRABLE AREAS TO SEEK OUT THE MAGIC OF GOING “ALL IN”.

But maybe there’s some truth there; perhaps the number crunchers are right in some respects. After all, to want to climb a big wall at the other end of the world you’ve got to be a little bit crazy.

Far, far away “Baffin Island? Never heard of it. Why not Ibiza? We’ve got some amazing deals at the moment.” Try asking your local travel agent to book a flight to Baffin Island and you can expect some strange questions followed by raised eyebrows and some sceptical looks. No wonder, since this northernmost stretch of Canada to the west of Greenland is indeed not listed in brochures as a paradise for sun-seeking holidaymakers, even if they are looking for a bit of action. Baffin Island is the fifth largest island on the planet and at the same time the most uninhabited place you can imagine. With a population of just 11,000 distributed over an area of half a million square kilometres each person could easily have a golf course each in their back yard and still not be lacking space. So if you are into golf or any other kind of fresh air activity, then you better not be oversensitive about the weather, because up here the climate has a unique meteorological instability and basically does what it likes, without warning. The term “summer” is certainly not included in its frequently changing spectrum of offerings, however. It’s no secret that all-night beach parties take place elsewhere.

Baffin Island in the territory of Nunavut, is the largest island in Canada. Its area is 507,451 km2 (195,928 sq mi). Mount Asgard is located in the Auyuittuq National Park on Cumberland Peninsula. In Inuktitut – the language of Nunavut’s indigenous people, Inuit – Auyuittuq means “the land that never melts”.


Š Parks Canada Agency, Nunavut Field Unit

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BAFFIN ISLAND?


baffin

THEIR APPROACH

“To get there, you need to fly to Pangnirtung and there a local fisherman can drop you by boat to the entrance of the valley. It’s 60 km hiking to the base of Asgard. It’s possible to send your gear in advance so that some Inuit brings it up the fjord to Summit Lake. Be aware that a lot of the time it doesn’t work. It’s quite a bit more complicated than what we thought. Because of bear issues, they won’t stack food or fuel. So that you have to carry yourself.”

Useful tips from Nico Favresse to Thomas Huber


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alex “THERE ARE A DOZEN ROUTES ON MOUNT ASGARD, BUT THERE ARE ONLY A FEW THAT YOU CAN EVEN THINK ABOUT FREE-CLIMBING AND OF THOSE BAVARIAN DIRECT IS DEFINITELY THE MOST AWESOME!”

When they scrutinised the rock face for a more careful look they reckoned they were able to pick out “a line that could work”. Did it really look like this route rated by the first climbers as 7/A3 can be free-climbed?

Cheap offers from the travel agent are one thing. The “Finest big walls around the globe” brochure by Alex and Thomas Huber – aka. “The one and only Huberbuam” – is another. Filled with the adventures of the brothers reaching from El Cap to Latok and from Ogre to Nameless Tower, this tome has reached almost biblical proportions. In 2012 it was again high time to add the next chapter, one whose title had been written some years previously, although only in thought.

Bavarian direct Anno 1996. The Bavarian climbers Christian Schlesener, Mane Reichelt, Luca Guscelli, Bernd Adler, Markus Bruckbauer and Tom Grad returned home from their expedition to Baffin Island. In their luggage they had the most valuable thing climbers can bring back from such a trip: a first ascent called Bavarian Direct (7/A3), a daring line across the 700-m-high southern buttress of Mount Asgard. Soon after their return the climbers presented a slideshow – the ritual conclusion to any expedition. Alex and Thomas, good friends of the climbers, were also invited to the evening show in Rosenheim. They sat together with beers in the darkened room listening to the hum of the projector as it whisked photos across the screen one-after-the-other. Mouths hung open, fingertips were itching, because what they saw was quite simply awe-inspiring. But it wasn’t just the sheer beauty of the rock face that fascinated Alex and Thomas.

The information the climbers from the initial ascent had spat out made it sound promising. Hallelujah! We have to go there, the Hubers thought, we have to try it. “The dream had been around for some time,” remembers Alex, “and we knew back then that it was going to be a tough dog of a route to free-climb, if that even turned out to be possible.” However, although they still believed in the back of their minds that it was doable, like many dreams this one wasn’t immune from the fate of being overtaken by other dreams. Other objectives edged their way into first priority on the climbing calendar, because as far as projects and options are concerned, the vertical universe is as unlimited as it is unforgiving; it always has a load of enticing attractions on offer. That’s why it was some years until Alex and Thomas were offered the opportunity to pick up the tracks their friends had laid in the far north and finish off what they had started so long ago.

Months of planning, preparation and training: For a climbing project of this scale at one of the most remote places in the world, precision planning is an absolute prerequisite – without the right equipment it would be impossible to survive 6 weeks on Baffin Island...

Excerpt from the Hubers’ notebook regarding equipment at advanced base camp 2 x ledge 10 x main meal 10 x breakfast 25 x energy bar 10 x gas 2 x kettle 200 m rope On the wall: set of cams small stoppers climbing rope magnesium toothbrush spoon beaker


Belgian Summer Summer 2009. A mixed team landed on Baffin Island in the company of the Belgian big wall shooting star Nico Favresse. Why they happened to choose Baffin Island was not because of just a good reason, but the best-ever reason. A wider selection of virgin big walls with such beautiful lines isn’t to be found anywhere else on this planet. Despite the huge choice of opportunities, the objective of this ambitious team was clear: Mount Asgard. Dozens of routes criss-cross the walls of Asgard virtually incognito, but only a very few came into consideration, such as the “Inukshuk“ aid route on the north buttress and “Bavarian Direct“ on the south buttress. The team decided to attempt the south side, because if any of the routes could be free-climbed, then they were convinced it would be this one. They weren’t mistaken: after eleven days on Bavarian Direct the team diverted slightly from the original route on the final pitch to a new exit point at the south end of the plateau atop Mount Asgard, literally on their last legs. Nico and his team named their almost entirely free-climbed version of the Bavarian route “The Belgarian” and rated the 850-m tour 5.13b or 8a+/A1.

Aid climbing is the term used for climbing with the assistance of bolts, ropes, rope ladders and similar equipment to pass difficult obstructions on certain parts of the route. For aid climbing there is a scale of difficulty that reaches from A0 to A5, depending on strength required, severity of setting bolts and stability of the rock. The A stands for “artificial”. Free-climbing, on the other hand, stands for climbing without the assistance of technical tools where belaying is used purely as protection in the event of a fall. The term redpoint means free-climbing a route known to the climber in the lead in one go without exerting force on the belay system and by placing all mobile protection themselves. However, many high-end ascents are classified as redpoint even if mobile protection has already been placed.

Free, or not free, that is the question Nico Favresse’s team rated The Belgarian difficulty 5.13b, A1. This means that the route was not free-climbed in its entirety. Nico: “At the beginning of the seventh pitch I was no longer able to free-climb a short section. Although I managed all the moves, after a month of hiking I simply didn’t have the strength for the push. That’s when we had to fall back on Silvia Vidal’s aid equipment.”

Why “almost entirely free-climbed”? Because the crux on the tenth and most difficult pitch could only be managed with the technical assistance of a ladder, hence the A1. All the same, news of their success spread like wildfire so that Alex and Thomas couldn’t ignore it either: “They had done exactly what we had wanted to do for some time,” is how Alex remembers his first reaction. However, they hadn’t missed the boat; the opportunity was still there. Alex and Thomas didn’t doubt that Nico and Olivier Favresse, Sean Villanueva, Stéphane Hanssens and the Spaniard Silvia Vidal had put in a tremendous effort on their eleven-day single push. “Nico and his team are a seriously hard bunch. Setting up a headpoint that far away from civilisation takes some balls,” says Thomas with real appreciation. Despite the effort the Belgian-Spanish team invested in solving the Bavarian Direct, they didn’t manage to put the last stone of the mosaic in place to completely finish the puzzle. For Alex and Thomas there was suddenly hardly no better excuse to travel to Baffin Island.


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baffin FREE?

Alex “FATE MADE EVERYTHING SO STRAIGHTFORWARD. BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T QUITE MANAGE THE FREE-ASCENT IT WAS UP TO US TO SEE WHAT WE COULD MAKE OF IT.” (they: the Belgian team, ed.)


Highest Peaks of the Baffin Mountains Name

Mount Odin Mount Asgard Qiajivik Mountain Angilaaq Mountain Kisimngiuqtuq Peak Ukpik Peak Bastille Peak Mount Thule Angna Mountain Mount Thor

m

ft

2,147 2,015 1,963 1,951 1,905 1,809 1,733 1,711 1,710 1,675

7,044 6,611 6,440 6,401 6,250 5,935 5,686 5,614 5,610 5,495


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baffin

MOUNT ASGARD

ACCORDING TO THE EDDA, A TOME OF ANCIENT ICELANDIC TEXTS FROM THE 13TH CENTURY, ASGARD IS THE REALM OF THE NORSE GODS. 800 YEARS LATER THE STRIKING YET BEAUTIFUL, AWE-INSPIRING YET INVITING ENTITY OF MOUNT ASGARD HAS LOST NONE OF ITS MYTHICAL MAGIC. IT IS NO LESS GODLY.


baffin

Big wall & brotherhood

The reasons for building an “Inukshuk” (which means “in the likeness of a human” in the Inuit language) have hardly changed over the centuries. The cairns built by the Inuit are signs in the landscape – they are markers, warnings or memorials.

The way to go...to get back home Sometimes they are simply used for navigation the hole between the “legs” points in the right direction. Thomas: “The view from my tent points right along the approach to the rock face: the way back home is via Bavarian Direct.”


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X-tended Brotherhood An 850-metre-high wall, only sparse protection, with several pitches in the tenth grade – from these factors alone it is clear that the chosen line on Mount Asgard is a project that only the very best of the best could complete. Excellence in climbing is naturally a prerequisite in such a case, but in fact only half the story. To be successful on a rock face the magnitude of Mount Asgard, you need more than just the ability to climb hard. You have to be able to work together perfectly as a team. Thanks to their father, who was a mountain enthusiast, Alex and Thomas took part on excursions into the Alps at an early age. Looking back, it is clear that the basis for their alpine careers took shape during childhood. The two brothers virtually grew up with a craving for adventure. It wasn’t long before Alex and Thomas started seeking out their own routes as brothers. As the level of difficulty increased, more often than not their father had to stay at home. Brotherhood and climbing partnerships have much in common. In both cases the relationships concern close proximity and intensity. In the one instance it is a blood relationship that forms the bond, in the other it is the rope that connects them. But despite the similarities there are exceptions: brotherhood takes the concept of the climbing team to the next level.

YOU ARE BORN A BROTHER, YOU ARE MADE A BROTHER. A CLIMBING TEAM DOESN’T COME TO EXISTENCE SO EASILY. IT’S NOT SOMETHING THAT YOU JUST SLIP INTO, IT’S NOT A BIRTHRIGHT. FOR SUCH A RELATIONSHIP TO DEVELOP, THERE IS ONE THING THAT THE PARTNERS MUST DO ABOVE ALL:

CLIMB TOGETHER.


A – J Info on route and locations on the rock face on page 27 onwards

CLIMBING TOGETHER is something Alex and Thomas have done a great deal of; but that’s not everything they have done. Following phases where the brothers work together, there are others where each goes his own way. An early example: while Alex ascended Om and Open Air, among others, and headed towards the 9th French grade in sport climbing, Thomas opened up End of Silence (8b+), one of the most difficult multipitch routes at the time. That there are others who are gifted on the rock face is something of which Alex and Thomas have always been aware. The more their life on the mountain became characterised by their brotherhood, the more they understood how to make their climbing dreams come true with different constellations of climbing teams and with other climbing partners. Thomas: “We quite simply work brilliantly together, complementing each other perfectly, but it is also important that we go our separate ways now and again. When we are ready, then we tackle another project again together.” This pattern of togetherness and going their own way can be traced throughout the two brothers’ climbing career: in 1997 they managed to conquer the 7,108 metre-high Latok together with Toni Gutsch and Conrad Anker via Tsering mosong (VII+/A3+). In 2001 Thomas joined up with Iwan Wolf instead of brother Alex on an extraordinary ascent of Shivling (6,543 m) – Shiva’s Line (7/A4) is one of the magical routes in the Himalayas – and their ascent was awarded the Piolet d’Or, the unofficial climbing Oscar. In the following year Thomas together with Iwan Wolf and Urs Stöcker were successful on the repeat ascent of Ogre (7,285 m). Alexander climbed free solo through the Hasse-Brandler on the Große Zinne – without protection, without a rope, but with plenty of nerves and strength. On the West Buttress he demonstrated that he can also climb pretty well with a rope as well on his initial ascents of Bellavista (2002) and Pan Aroma (2007). A stone’s throw from his home, Alex together with another talented local – Guido Unterwurzacher – climbed routes above Loferer Alm such as Donnervogel and Feuertaufe. Both these routes feature minimal protection on pitches up to 8b+ and in this respect are without doubt amongst the most challenging climbs to be found anywhere.

“BECAUSE IT’S EASIER TO FIND PEOPLE WHO CLIMB AT YOUR LEVEL THAN PEOPLE WHO SHARE YOUR CLIMBING PHILOSOPHY.”

Alex + thomas

Pure chance “Mario” Mario Walder is from East Tyrol/Austria and is another young, very promising alpinist who proved during the expedition to Nameless Tower in Karakorum that he is a steadfast climbing partner and a strong asset for any team looking to take on big objectives. Alex Huber met Mario by chance in Patagonia in 2006: the two did a number of tours there together and realised that they work really well together, both in terms of climbing ability and philosophy. “Mario is fit as heck and gets straight down to the job in hand,” is how Alex describes his qualities. His brother has a similar opinion: “Mario is a great buddy as well as a top-class climber on whom you can rely on 100% in any situation.” What’s really important when climbing with a team in uncharted territory is that you are all on the same wavelength mentally. Mario turned out to be virtually the third brother, because: “I place a great deal of value on ethics. Nearly all of my initial ascents have been using classic climbing style. I believe it is very important that classic climbs remain as they are. You need to respect the mountain and the style of the climbers who got there first. For me there is nothing more fulfilling than being in the mountains with fellow climbers and friends to seek out new routes. To spot a line and then climb it is the greatest thing you can imagine – only the line counts!” In addition to their ambitions to lead the way, Mario Walder and the Huber Brothers also share enormous versatility: “I am happy in any terrain: ice, snow, rock, crumbly or not. As a result you can do a lot of things on any mountain in the world.” That’s why it’s easy to imagine an extended brotherhood. One in which intensive experience is shared on one and the same rope. One that can perhaps be understood as a family tree or a tribe, brothers and sisters held together by the same passion for climbing. And the family is growing... If there is a tribe, then Max Reichel and Franz Hinterbrandner are also inevitably part of it. Working under the name of Timeline Production, these two from Berchtesgaden made a name for themselves some time ago as expert and inspirational extreme cameramen. Just like with the climbing team, it’s important you get to know your film crew, because trust and reliability are the most important ingredients on adventurous projects. The Huber Brothers’ relationship to Max and Franz has reached the strength it is at after many years of joint ventures and numerous productions like “Centre of the Universe”, “Eiszeit” and “Eternal Flame” already mentioned above. The greatest project the friends undertook together where Reichel and Hinterbrandner contributed their camera skills must surely have been the documentary “Am Limit”, which went on to win the Bavarian Film Prize. And yet again it was time to take it to the limit. At the end of the world. With the best bunch of buddies that you could hope for on such an expedition.


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baffin THE TRIBE

Max Reichel & Franz Hinterbrandner Extreme. Flexible. Passionate. That’s the motto Max and Franz used in 2001 to establish Timeline Production.

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With their own productions covering a wide spectrum – from extreme sport to music videos – they soon became a sensation, which brought them recognition in the form of awards, such as the Kamera Alpin in Graz/Austria, for example.

A

“Am Limit” (director: Pepe Danquart) and “Nordwand” (director: Philipp Stölzl) were two projects that opened up a completely new dimension in camera work in the most daring conditions.

Mario Walder Mario was virtually weaned on climbing. He grew up on an alpine farm in East Tyrol 1,500 m above sea level “so we always had to climb,” says Mario. This skill led to his profession as a steeplejack working on power line pylons. And the profession led to the passion, because “many of my colleagues were climbers, and that’s how I came back to climbing.”


Logo Beanie

Terrex Pro

Terrex Fast Jacket

Terrex GTX Active Shell Jacket


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Anyone or anything looking to tackle Mount Asgard has to have been proven in the most extreme conditions: The Huber Brothers and the adidas terrex™ collection.

baffin

Baffin Island – it’s not the kindest of environments. Think of it like this: the average temperature is a frigid -8.5 degrees Celsius. In winter there is just a spot of twilight around midday. In summer there is harsh wind and rain. To deliver a top-class climbing performance here you need fabrics that you can rely upon completely. That’s because at the end of the world, cold and wet are not simply unpleasant – they also represent a safety risk to be taken seriously. And as any climber knows, on a 1,000-m route every gramme, seam and detail counts. That’s why the terrex™ collection – which the Huber Brothers use and helped develop – has to be as functional as it is tough and light.

equipment

Terrex Socks

eve Terrex 1/2 Zip Short Sle

The individual products complement each other to form a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts. That’s teamwork. And that’s the only way to ensure optimum body climate during athletic mountain activities.

The ideal base layer is the Terrex 1/2 Zip Short Sleeve. Cocona® fabric with activated charcoal particles ensures

Terrex Fast R Mid GTX

Terrex Hybrid PrimaLof t Jacket

Terrex Mountain Pants

efficient moisture transport. The merino wool component guarantees warmth and next-to-skin comfort. Teamed up with the minimalist Terrex GORE-TEX® Active Shell your body stays dry and the weather stays outside. However, if it does get windier than windy, the super-light and completely windproof Terrex Fast Jacket is the perfect defence. New tough WINDSTOPPER® fabric makes it possible. The best protection against cold is the Terrex Hybrid PrimaLoft Jacket. Hybrid means that you’ll find PrimaLoft® only at the locations where insulation really makes sense. These special zones will even keep you warm in the wet. The remainder consists of a light yet flexible Soft Shell material, which thanks to its special FORMOTION® cut allows maximum freedom of movement. Because climbing in the wilderness also means a great deal of hiking through gnarly terrain, the Hubers rely on the light Terrex Fast R Mid GTX featuring the TRAXION™ outsole with Continental rubber compound, FORMOTION® technology and a GORE-TEX® membrane to provide unbeatable grip, control and climate management. The necessary freedom of movement for the legs is given by the versatile Terrex Mountain Pants, proven apparel on the approach as well as on the rock face. Multifunctional accessories such as the Logo Beanie, Terrex Pro and Terrex Socks (see page 50) continue the terrex™ philosophy to provide full head-to-toe protection in all weather conditions. Even on Baffin Island.


technology apparel

climaproof ® wind hoodie full zip with stand-up collar

zip chest pocket formotion® cut

windstopper® soft shell material

ventilation zip pockets

elastic sleeve hem

more infos on adidas.com/outdoor

sh oft r ®s pe top ds win

Wide range of applications, robust and yet soft and light. That’s what the Terrex Fast Jacket offers with a new WINDSTOPPER ® Soft Shell that is available exclusively in the adidas terrex™ collection. It keeps out the wind and drizzle, is breathable and can be used all year round as an intermediate layer or shell. Thanks to excellent freedom of movement mountaineers and climbers do not feel restricted in any way to deliver top performance on mountain and on rock face. An ultralight hood made of windproof and water-resistant climaproof ® wind material that can be folded away into the collar provides an extra level of protection. In addition the Terrex Fast Jacket is equipped with a chest pocket that can also be used with a harness and backpack. adidas has also provided two hand-warmer pockets in the Soft Shell jacket so that mountain athletes can stay on the move without additional equipment.

ell

terrex fast jacket


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when it matters. for more time to think out fast moves on exposed rock. Big on breathability, big on freedom of movement.

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The decisive metres Excerpt from Thomas’ Baffin notes: “Go for the first, yes, I know I can do it. At the 2nd wedge (not difficult) I’m struggling and don’t manage to stay clipped in, losing a chunk of skin off my left thumb in the process. Sheesh...! Back down and wait until the bleeding has stopped. Takes ages because with all that blood flowing through your arm it’s really under pressure. Good that my pants are black because otherwise I’d look like a butcher. 2nd attempt: up the crack, follow it across, tackle the overhang, better this time, but still with some respect here ahead of the crux.”

realm of the gods August 2012. Alex, Thomas, Mario and the Timeline boys finally stood at the foot of Mount Asgard at the end of their arduous 60 km approach. Anticipation was mixed with a feeling of uncertainty. Suddenly the fog bank opened up to reveal the mighty southern tower. But the euphoria evaporated as quickly as it arose with the impact of a hammer blow dealt out personally by Thor, the god of thunder: “There was a constant cracking noise and the approach through the couloir looked like a battlefield. Rocks the size of half a car were lying around.” Danger was in the air, but it was calculable. Thanks to the information provided by the Bavarians and the Belgians who climbed here first and were kind enough to provide all the support needed, the team knew that they would be safe as soon as the approach was behind them and they were on the wall. This was how Thomas managed the risks: “We could assess the dangers relatively well to minimise exposure to the risks. Apart from that we knew that we would be climbing a perfect route.” Pitch one. Ready, set, but not go yet. Because the ice had receded significantly since 1996 and left behind an impossible looking section right at the start of the route, a problem that the Belgians also had to deal with on their ascent. They had to send their techy climbing technician Silvia Vidal on ahead until the pitch could be headpointed and given a 5.12c and 7c/E8.


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However, neither Alex nor Thomas could agree on this grade of difficulty rating: “Right at the start of the first pitch we were taken very much by surprise, because Nico and his team had rated the whole business 7c. For us it felt more like 8a+.” Three whole grades more difficult! How did that reflect the rest of the grading? In particular, what about the grade ten crux pitch which has to be free-climbed?

baffin

risk & reward

“WELL GREAT, IF THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A LOWER 7C, THEN THE CRUX IS BOUND TO BE IN THE REGION OF AN UPPER 8B,”

was what Thomas was thinking. But a good team doesn’t let itself go off the rails just because of a few hiccups getting started. Asgard gave the team a cool reception, no doubt about that, because just to get your feet off the ground you had to up the revs and give it everything you’ve got – a classic cold start. Instead of skyhooks it was the good old fingers of steel that were applied, and when they came into contact with the rock they were ripped to shreds until at last “Belay!” rang out and at last the fingertips began to thaw out again. That it started off so tough was totally unexpected for Alex, Thomas and Mario. On the other hand they were on Baffin Island, not on a Spanish beach, and whoever gets this far should be prepared for a bit of unpleasantness and able to take the rough with the even rougher. The apparent disadvantage of a nonexistent easy start does have a good side to it: if you are put under pressure from the very beginning, then you are more likely to reach top form sooner and even more importantly, gain a psychological advantage. The next few pitches also seemed to be harder overall than the description implied. However, thanks to the pitches at the start the boys had been made less sensitive to unpleasant surprises. They remained optimistic and didn’t worry unnecessarily about the key pitch, which was still way above them: “We will see soon enough what it is like up there – just wait until we’ve actually got up there.” However, before they got to see anything, visibility disappeared and poor weather moved in. For the team that meant retreating to base camp, playing cards, telling jokes you can’t tell at home, and above all staying safe and sound. Their patience paid off. At last the weather god showed mercy, it cleared up, and Alex, Thomas and Mario got back to work. They climbed pitch after pitch until they had finally got there: the team was now hanging off the belay point below the crux. What the three of them hanging off the belay staring up into the unknown knew about the crux – those critical 2 or 3 m – didn’t amount to much. Could they decode this pitch, and if so, how difficult was it going to be? As difficult as they expected? As difficult as they hoped? As difficult as they feared? And what if this crux can’t be decoded, taken apart, put back together again, solved? If you fail on five, six, or seven of these thousands of moves that you need to climb up a wall like this? What then? F


D

The moment for which the team had travelled 10,000 km was suddenly upon them and this immediacy meant carrying on without hesitation. It meant keep climbing. They quickly worked out the right hand holds and footholds; an important starting point on which to build. Next step: the sequencing. Which hand grabs where and which foot follows had to be sussed out in detail and then coded onto the hard drive before being hard-wired. They analysed, tried out, deleted the code and tried again. The foreboding they felt about this section based on the first pitch of the climb gradually evaporated as they got to grips with the most critical point of the route, the crux. This could be free-climbed, no problem. Providing, of course, that you can handle stuff grade tens are made of in expedition conditions at the end of the world. As luck would have it, Alex, Thomas and Mario do belong to this rare species. Still: “The job isn’t done until you’ve put in the effort up there,” says Alex. The crux was behind them, but that didn’t mean that it was all over, because first all the remaining pitches had to be free-climbed too. It was still risky. “The route is incredibly challenging. You could easily end up falling 15 m and if you do that at the wrong point, then you’ll either end up dead as a doornail or severely injured,” is how Thomas describes the situation. Another problem cropped up in addition to the complex climbing for which even the best climber doesn’t have a solution off the cuff: the weather. It then turned its thermostat back down to poor.

“THAT’S THE REAL PROBLEM: IN THE MOUNTAINS IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO BE A GOOD CLIMBER with A LOAD OF EXPERIENCE, YOU ALSO NEED A BIT OF LUCK.”

Alex

C


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Southtower Mt. Asgard Auyuittuq National park Baffin Island, canada

The way is clear but it’s a grind all the same. What you can’t see in this photo is that the rock was fairly icy up here.

A

B

A chimney that you don’t want to climb – and if that’s what the Hubers say, then we’ll take their word for it. Eyes shut and get on with it!

Very strenuous off-width The kind of crack that opens outwards and saps your energy, even though you are already completely drained anyway.

C

The reward

D

Dream crack, dream panorama, dream climb.

E

“The Secret” This is the pitch that we came for and it was awesome. Up to the crux it’s a solid 7c, then comes a really tough 4-moveBoulder – tiny knife-edge edges with a final flying crossover. – a solid 8a+ pitch.

F

The very best an endless finger crack with the climax at the end. G

Boulder traverse with tricky holds “Small edges – big wall”. Originally bouldering was defined as climbing within a safe distance of the ground”– here it means a hard climb high above the ground.

H

I

Long Runout J

Key point on the 8a+ pitch 8 m above the bolt! The first crux right at the beginning with interesting protection. The first pitch turned out to be much more difficult than expected.

baffin

THE CRUXES OF ASGARD


G

H

Team Free Ascent Bavarian Direct – Belgarian (Bavarian-Belgian friendship) Difficulty: 10-/8a+/5.13b Length: Approach wall 250 m Main wall 450 m (difficult section) Summit climb 250 m (7/6b/5.10c) Initial ascent 1996: Technical (7/A3) – Christian Schlesener, Mane Reichelt, Luca Guscelli, Bernd Adler, Markus Bruckbauer and Tom Grad Version 2009: „Belgarian” (5.13b/A1) – Nicolas Favresse, Olivier Favresse, Stéphane Hanssens, Sean Villanueva, Silvia Vidal

baffin

HARD FACTS


28 I29 J

The mental endurance that you need to be able to wait for this lucky moment, that’s something that you just need to have with you. They needed luck and they were given it. The weather improved and gave its OK for the rest of the climb. The rock, on the other hand, still had a number of surprises in store. The difficulty of the final pitches ought to be a great deal easier than those below, promised the topo, but it was still a tricky business. The system of chimneys, rated grade 7, had been partially iced over and was covered in snow following the previous spate of bad weather:

“EVEN ON THE LAST FEW METRES THE ASGARD DID US NO FAVOURS.”

alex


B

baffin

TEAM FREE ASCENT Finally they had done it and Alex, Thomas and Mario reached the summit plateau. It was ten in the evening, the sun went down and you could see the moon pinned to the heavens. “A moment that was holy,” remembers Thomas. Behind them lay ten days on the rock face and below them the 700 m of climbing that form the Bavarian-Belgian Direct combination, on which they managed a team free ascent, where each gave everything they had in them, contributing their part to the success of the team. Thomas describes it like this: “Everything goes like clockwork, blind trust is the order of the day.” Asked whether there is a hierarchy within the team, he says simply: “There’s no envy on the mountain, we are a team, we are a unit...

The film of the expedition “It was a huge challenge because shooting conditions were not easy, but we are convinced that this is a very exciting film and are really looking forward to launching it,” says Franz. You can download the movie or get the DVD on www.timeline-production.de/shop

... What counts is that we manage to reach the top together and find a way back to safety together and at the end of the day can say that we had a fantastic time. We had a laugh together and we froze our butts off together. It was hard, but it was great.” The difficulties that were waiting for the team were sometimes harder than expected and it wasn’t just the climbing team that put their success in doubt now and again. The Timeline boys also sometimes envisaged their film “washed away by the Weasel River”. But Max and Franz managed to hang in there – so finally standing on the plateau of Mount Asgard was even more rewarding. It didn’t take long to decide on a route name that not only conveyed the feeling at the summit, but also accompanied the tour from the beginning: Bavarian-Belgian Friendship. Three good reasons: Firstly it was friends from their home in Bavaria who ascended the Direct in 1996 to pave the way for the 2012 project. Secondly, it was friends from Belgium who sussed out a way to free-climb the route, demonstrating that it was possible, even if they didn’t have the privilege of solving the whole puzzle themselves. And finally it was the friends Alex, Thomas, Mario, Max and Franz, who undertook the long journey to successfully finish this major project. To climb this big wall at the end of the world, ten thousand kilometres for a couple of metres, you’ve got to be kind of crazy to want to do that. “We are all born mad. Some remain so.”* Thank goodness!


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The last metres to the summit as described by Mario: “We were pretty sure that we would reach the summit, but as always the weather struck once again with much new snow on the wall and iced-over cracks. Five pitches below the summit we had to attack an icy chimney that I definitely never want to have to climb again. Ever. Then came the last pitches in light snowfall and ...

... at last the summit! Such a feeling. One I have never experienced before.�

* Quote: Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, 1953


Baffin team – expedition statement On their return we asked each of the 5-man crew the same 5 questions. Thanks for your answers!

5 questions 5 answers My Baffin Highlight... Thomas: Cracking the 10th pitch and reaching the summit Alex: The summit Mario: The summit, of course Franz: The summit Max: Standing on the summit knowing that everything went well and that there isn’t much that can still go wrong

My standard routine at base camp... Thomas: Alex: Mario: Franz: Max:

Wait for fine weather Get some sleep Jack-of-all-trades Fetching water Copying and recharging

My lucky Baffin charm... Thomas: Alex: Mario: Franz: Max:

A photo of my daughter The power in my fingers Sepp Mayerl’s summit flag, unfortunately he died while we were on our expedition Necklace from my wife with my kids’ fingerprints A photo of my family

thomas huber “We are back in civilisation with all its advantages and not so nice things. The longing for my wife, kids, something proper to eat and a beer has been quenched and now the calendar rules my life again. Back to every-day stuff again, great! What remains is a colourful bunch of memories. Good things and not so good things, or even better, it’s up to you how you look at things: whether I choose to remember a shortage of food or careful rationing, boredom or quiet, being frustrated or in a good mood, bad weather or my cosy sleeping bag, the Belgian 7c’s or the cool moves on top rock, my four failed attempts at the crux or the crowning glory of doing it at the limit, the freezing cold day on the summit or the moments that were real agony, the poor visibility on the summit or the amazing feeling of success. Grey or colourful?! For me it was a rainbow, a double rainbow, a really beautiful one! One end in Berchtesgaden and the other on Mount Asgard… And like my grandad told me as a kid, you should dig at the end of the rainbow. That’s where the treasure is hidden. I found it. And I found it at both ends.”

What did you miss most from “civilisation” / Which aspect didn’t you miss? Thomas: Alex: Mario: Franz: Max:

Good coffee / Mobile phone, PC etc. Everything! / Money Nothing / Internet, television, phone Fresh bread / Noise A little bit of everything / Stress

When you got back, which food did you have the greatest craving for? Thomas: Alex: Mario: Franz: Max:

A super steak, with beer of course Clear: pretzel with white sausage Meat My mum’s roast pork Roast pork, dumplings, coleslaw

alexander huber “A brilliant performance by our friends who have left a real highlight behind them on this mountain – what is now the Bavarian Direct. This legendary route with its minute holds is a real treat that we managed to free-climb by the end of our trip. It’s not often that everything falls into place so that an expedition can be concluded successfully.”


32 I33

MARIO WALDER “Just getting there was a huge challenge: the flight and having to stay in Pangnirtung, the boat trip across the fjord, then about 60 km on foot with river crossings. I actually almost drowned doing that. The first impressions of this arctic landscape were breathtaking. Once we had set up the base camp and taken two days rest, we went to check out the rock face and bring all our material to the foot of the wall. Since the weather was very good in the beginning, we got started on the first pitches straightaway. For me that was a pretty tough job because the ice had melted at the base of the wall and as a result the first belay station was about 15 m above the ground. From then on everything ran more or less like clockwork and Alexander and Thomas managed to climb all the difficult pitches redpoint reasonably quickly. We were quite sure that we would reach the summit, but as always the weather had some surprises in store: lots of fresh snow on the wall and iced-over cracks. Five pitches below the summit we had to attack an icy chimney that I definitely never want to have to climb again. Ever. Then the final pitches in light snowfall and finally the summit! I have never experienced such a feeling. Due to the circumstances, Mount Asgard was for me definitely one of the most difficult ascents.”

FRANZ HINTERBRANDNER

baffin

EXPEDITION TEAM

“Baffin was a massive adventure with highs and lows in a breathtaking landscape. We had a great time doing what we do best: mountaineering and shooting film with a passion. The film was a huge challenge because the shooting conditions were not easy but we are sure that we have put together a very exciting film and look forward to its launch.”

MAX REICHEL “For me Baffin was the most exciting trip that I have done with the Huber Brothers. You can’t expect a cultural adventure – like in India for example – the attraction of this expedition is the seclusion. Almost 60 km on foot through a deserted landscape, crossing rivers and the breathtaking valley of Weasel River, until you are finally standing in front of a huge rock monolith: Mt. Asgard. When you set eyes on this mountain it becomes clear that you can’t afford to have an accident in this seclusion because there is no hope of rescue except by helicopter, and then the weather has to be OK. This fact accompanies you subconsciously all the time, heightening awareness of potential dangers. Overall the expedition was destined for success because the team worked so brilliantly together, something that cannot be taken for granted. The difficulties that were waiting for Alex and Thomas were sometimes harder than expected and it wasn’t just the two brothers that put their prospects of free-climbing the route in doubt now and again. Franz and I could also see our film floating down the Weasel River sometimes. That made standing on the summit all the more awesome.”


N

69° 0’ 0” N 72° 0’ 0” W

u n a

ISLAND – INFO

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baffin

source: Google

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N ER ESTGES HW A RT ASS NO P

v

For climbers and trekkers worldwide, Baffin Island (Qikiqtaaluk) holds an unrivalled mystique. From its perch above the Canadian mainland it stretches north into the Arctic Circle. Though notorious for its remoteness and unpredictable weather, Baffin Island has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful environments. Though much of the island is uninhabited just over 10,000 people call it home, and 70% of this population is of Inuit heritage. The Inuit people are thought to have migrated from modern-day Alaska over 1,000 years ago. Though there are some small outlying settlements, the majority of Baffin’s residents – Inuit and otherwise – live in Iqaluit, Baffin’s capital and largest city. Visitors to the island are usually keenly interested in Baffin Island’s magnificent diversity of ecosystems and landscapes. For most, the draw of the island is to the terrain along the northeastern coast. Here a string of austere valleys and soaring granite spires make up the central portion of the Arctic Cordillera, the world’s northernmost mountain range. The majority of expeditions hoping to explore this range seek out Auyuittuq National Park, which contains Baffin’s most celebrated peaks: Mount Thor and Mount Asgard. Drawing their names from Norse mythology, these granite monoliths have become proving grounds for the world’s best alpinists. But you needn’t be an elite-level climber to enjoy Auyuittuq National Park and its arctic magnificence. The park’s ice caps, peaks and fjords attract a small but steady trickle of backpackers, ski mountaineers and kayakers each year. If the prospect of an unguided expedition seems daunting, a number of experienced outfitters can provide support ranging from boat transfers to guided treks. Though Baffin Island hosts its fair share of objective hazards, it offers the chance to experience a place that, at least for the time being, is still utterly wild.

Getting There As one of the more remote places on earth, a trip to Baffin Island requires a little more co-ordination than a flight and a car rental. Most parties dedicate at least three weeks to an expedition as variable rain, snow and ice conditions make any trip subject to weather. The most common way to reach the island is via air transfer to Iqaluit, Baffin’s capital and largest city. A number of carriers offer flights from Ottawa, Montreal and Yellowknife. Once arrived on the island, access to Auyuittuq National Park depends on the season and objective. Most will choose to enter the park during the peak summer months (late July to October) and head by boat to Qikiqtarjuaq or Pangnirtung, the northern and southern gateways to the park, respectively. For early-season trips (March to early May), these entry points can be accessed by snowmobile. However, once the ice floes covering the island’s many fjords begin to break up in early summer, the park is inaccessible. Due to extreme conditions, travelling in winter (October to February) is not advised.


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adidas would like to thank Pauline Scott, Monika Templin and the Parks Canada agency for their kind support.

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IS LA k uq tt Par yuinal Au io t Na

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Top 3 Missions in Auyuittuq National Park

Mt. Asgard Mt. Odin

Mt. Thor

Pangnirtung

Iqaluit

Permits and safety Before entering the park visitors must complete a mandatory safety briefing and obtain a permit. The largest objective hazard for any trip to Baffin Island is the large number of obligatory river crossings. While trekking poles and neoprene booties are helpful, it is always crucial to choose crossings carefully, and wait for river levels to lower if necessary. Polar bears are also a concern for anyone planning to enter Auyuittuq. Park officials can help steer visitors away from high density areas – mostly near the coast – but caution is key. Since firearms are not allowed in Auyuittuq, you must avoid confrontation at all costs!

for further information contact Parks Canada and Nunavut Tourism: Parks Canada Parks Canada maintains up-to-date information on conditions, permits and access, as well as history and insight into Auyuittuq National Park’s cultural and natural wonders. www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq/index.aspx Nunavut Tourism Please visit Nunavut Tourism to learn about the wealth of recreational and travel opportunities in Nunavut, Canada. www.nunavuttourism.com

Backpack across Akshayuk Pass This is one of the only marked trails in the park, and is by far the most popular Baffin expedition. The route traverses the length of the park and connects the two main points of entry to Autuittuq: Qikiqtarjuaq on the northeastern coast and Pangnirtung on the southeastern border of the park. For 97 km / 60 miles, this corridor winds through glacial moraines and river beds, and offers stunning views of Asgard and Thor along the way. Visitors usually choose either to start in Qikiqtarjuaq and through-hike south, or make a return trip from Pangnirtung to Summit Lake and back. Ski Tour on the Penny Ice Cap For those who want to explore the park on skins and edges, the Penny Ice Cap – accessible from Summit Lake – offers unlimited potential. If you’re after the steeps instead, the numerous fjords that snake through the coastline create incredible potential for steep couloir skiing. Climb Mt. Thor / surrounding peaks Only those with considerable climbing experience need apply. For diehard alpinists, Mount Thor’s steep granite face is irresistible. Those with more reasonable aspirations can explore less committing objectives on the dozens of smaller peaks that abound along the Akshayuk Pass, or make the trek north to even more remote objectives. Regardless, anyone climbing in Auyuittuq National Park has the opportunity to sample what the Huber Brothers found on Mount Asgard’s Bavarian Direct – steep, featured rock, otherworldly exposure, and a chance to experience the sublime commitment of arctic alpine climbing.


PAKISTAN

Pakistan FROM THE LEFT: jakob, Kitch en boy Eschas, Ch ef I brah im, Gu i de Shakoor, gu i do, h ech ei, sim on, hannes, flo and m ax

you can never come back home ...

if you never travel, 2012 •

journey to the

• twent y-twelve

heart of the mountains a tale by gui do un ter wur z acher

“If you never travel, you can never come back home!” is what I wrote at the beginning of my travel diary. I am on the way to Pakistan – Karakorum, in fact – together with Max Berger, Christian Hechenberger, Simon Berger, Jakob Schweighofer, Hannes Leitner and Flo Dertnig. A dream is about to come true because we originally planned the trip last year, but Christian “Hechei” Hechenberger couldn’t travel due to injury. Because the band only plays well when it is complete, the rest of us decided to postpone it for a year. On 18 July the first part of the team finally boards the flight to Istanbul and then, after a 6-hour stopover, on to Islamabad. Now there’s no going back.

camp Party time at tran go base

? o untai n Kil l erWeM’ll be on ou r wa y! ks! No Th an


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TEXT + PHOTOs ATHLETES

adidas.com/outdoor

Sweat with a view: the Pakistan mountainscape from its best side on the 3-day march to base camp.


flo

hannes

max

jakob

SIMON

guido

HECHEI

Everybody looks tense, going into their inner selves, and when we finally arrive in Islamabad at four in the morning we realise for the first time that everything is very different here. Our contact man Iqubal from the Shipton Trekking agency is already there to meet us. At the airport we are treated as though a crew of aliens has just landed – we each get a garland of flowers hung round our necks and then it’s off to the hotel, which is very clean and prestigious. Jakob and Flo arrive the next day so that we can really get started on the first big adventure: the 3-day drive along the infamous and dangerous Karakorum Highway. This road has in reality earned itself another name – “Highway to Hell” would be more accurate. Even our guide Shakoor says, “This street is much more dangerous than all terrorists together!” – and he should know. So, with stomach problems brewing, we tore along the nightmarish switchbacks, letting the feedback from the holes in the road flow right through us. Quite literally in the case of those with stomach issues. After two days we finally reach Askole, the last small village three days away from base camp. The Jeep trip getting there was an experience that none of us are likely to forget in a hurry. The village is more than modest, the people are friendly, poor and radiate with personality. They offer us tea and biscuits and a tour of the so-called museum, which would easily have passed as an Austrian cowshed 200 years ago. Then we set up a place to crash for the night and look forward to the three days march through the wild and bare landscape. On the third and last day of the long march we at last spot the objects of our desire – the soaring Great Trango and Nameless Tower. We are overwhelmed – this makes everything we have been through in the last six days worthwhile. The base camp is already pretty busy, so we pitch our tents in the spaces between the South Africans, Koreans, Slovaks and Poles. Even the billy goat we christened “Franzi”, who had to carry on his back his own provisions – a sack of onions and a sack of potatoes – arrived safely to enjoy the greenery around the base camp and laze around before playing the lead role at the BBQ. Now it’s time to unpack, get organised, plan, drink tea, check the weather forecast, sort out equipment and get to bed early, because tomorrow we want to head for Little Trango (5,500 m) – a small free-standing granite pillar between Great Trango and Nameless Tower. The alarm clock tears us out of our sleeping bags at three o’clock the next morning. Breakfast, and then we start the long hike through the dangerous approach gulley. When we reach the ridge at 5,200 m, clouds appear and it starts to snow. We wait, enjoying the thin air and the wild atmosphere, before hiding our equipment away and heading back down to the base camp. We desperately need a day of rest! After our rest day we head off fully kitted out towards the sun terrace, a large bivouac spot where you are in the sun all day at the start of the routes up the Nameless Tower. At last we get to grip some golden-yellow granite and start hauling equipment like mules. Max, Jakob and Hannes concentrate on the haul bags, while Flo and I take the lead to fix the ropes. Climbing feels good. Once we reach the sun terrace we are overwhelmed and unfortunately completely exhausted, everybody except Max, that is. Although Max is the oldest in the team, he is the one with the most metres of climbing under his belt, the most experience at high elevations, and it is he who could carry a porter up to the high elevation camp on an eight thousand metre peak if he wanted to. So he’s definitely one of the toughest in the team. We cook and try to sleep, but none of us manage to get any shut-eye while headaches are an indicator that we are not yet acclimatised – no wonder since this is only day three. We leave our equipment where it is and abseil down. Two days’ rest, drinking tea, reading, playing cards. Then Max and I strike out again up the steep gulley towards Nameless Tower. We want to attempt the Slovenian route in one go from base camp to the summit, ideally on-sight and in one day. 2,300 m of ascent, grade of difficulty up to 8+ and uncertain conditions on the steep rock face, all that and much more is waiting for us above. After around 7 pitches of excellent quality crack climbing our onsight plans were unfortunately dashed: iced-over cracks, a thin layer of ice on the rock face, shadowy dihedrals, cold and wet weren’t making life on the vertical wall any easier. We fought our way through the wet and icy sections and then about 100 m below the summit we decided to call it a day - we were burnt out, frozen through and conditions were so poor that we decided to throw in the towel. A difficult decision but a good one.


ka r ak or um

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ST AN

Islamabad

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THOMAS:

my n he wa s on one of “I first met Guido whe tte shü olf Rud the at climbing courses e. He wanted when he wa s twelv Brothers train. Huber the how to find out ship a climbing partner Today it’s not just ship. nd frie our o als that bonds us, it’s s best climbers.” He is one of TYrol’

Breakfast in the tent? Unfortunately not part of the package deal... Not even for blondes.

Back on the sun terrace we cooked, drank tea and soon crawled into our sleeping bags. It was a courageous attempt, nobody had tried to climb from the base camp to the summit in one push before and we both know that if the conditions had only been poor – rather than piss-poor – we might have managed it. In any case, we were satisfied with what we had done. At around the same time Hechei and Simon were successful on Little Trango and shortly afterwards climbed Great Trango via the standard route, while Flo, Jakob and Martin from Slovakia created a heroic initial ascent on the face adjacent to base camp. When Max and I arrived back at base camp there was again a turn in the weather, except this time it lasted for ages and was pretty nasty - 12 days. First half a day OK without precipitation and then two days really foul weather with heavy precipitation. This would have nearly caused camp psychosis were it not for the fact that we had brought the crash pad with us. This meant that we could go bouldering on the short walls in the immediate vicinity of the base camp. In addition, Hannes and I managed an incredibly classic first ascent on Severance Ridge, a 700-metre-high wall not far from base camp – a beautiful route with cracks of all sizes and difficulties up to grade 9. “No pen, no picture!”* as we named our creation, would already be an overrun, highly-praised extreme classic route back in Austria, probably already refurbished, rebolted, refurbished again with shiny new bolts and a topo at each belay point. But luckily this cool chunk of rock is located in safe seclusion in the furthest corner of Karakorum and might perhaps be repeated one day. Because departures have to be celebrated to the limit we toasted the last few hours together with Max, who was heading home the next day. If Hannes and I saw correctly, Max even had tears in his eyes, or maybe he just had something in his eye. ;) Waiting for better weather gets on your nerves; we don’t want to lay eyes on another playing card and we are running out of reading material, but at last we receive uplifting news of splendid weather on the horizon, that is set to stay for some time. Full of motivation, Hannes, Simon, Hechei and I stuff our backpacks with the essentials for three days to reach the summit of Nameless Tower. While Hechei and Simon want to attempt the “Slovenian route”, Hannes and I opt for “Eternal Flame”, the Güllich and Albert extreme classic and without doubt one of the most famous routes in the region. Any ambitions for free climbing have already been thrown overboard because the conditions just wouldn’t permit it – too much snow and warmer temperatures have created too much water on the rock face, meaning that you can hardly get a firm hold anywhere – so we are going to make the best of it anyway; the main thing is to get safely to the summit and back down again.

*

No pen, no picture !

Pakista

Because a child in Askole asked Jakob for a pen, although he didn’t have one, but still wanted to take a photo of the kid, whose immediate reply was “No pen, no picture!” our inspiration for the name of the route.

if you never tr

you can never come bac

2012

journey to

twenty twelve

heart of the moun a tale by gui do un ter wur z acher


r ?! Pen, Si

Writing materials seem to be in big demand in Pakistan, especially among the kids.

Sh iga r Va l l e y

Even after a long search we still couldn’t locate the “Nanga Parbat Hotle”!


40 I41

In Skardu we catch sight of mountains for the first time, but before we reach Askole the destination on our wild drive along the Karakorum we have another 120 “relaxing� kilometres of gravel, wobbly suspension bridges and raging mountain rivers in front of us. The combination of just a few centimetres gap between our tyres and the abyss and a driver who spends the entire journey on the phone is not exactly reassuring...

HIGHWAY KARAKORUM alias

PAKISTAN

HIGHWAY TO HELL

4WD with power boost. Several sections of the gnarly road to Askole were passable only with muscle power.

Luckily nobody had forgot ten anything at home...


Trango

is somewhere here

The Braldu River leads us towards Trango base camp...

u B ra l d Rive r

Ready to serve: chapati and tea. It was chapati that quite literally became our daily bread. Trango Towers ALL INCLUSIVE: Breakfast, lunch and supper in a spacious dining tent. Tent without shower or WC. Your very own beach on the shore of idyllic Trango Lake, where the water temperature of 12 °C guarantees a refreshing bath even in really hot weather. 1. Team adidas, 2. Poland, 3. WC, 4. South Africa, 5. Slovakia, 6. Villa del Guido and Hannes

The Baltis (inhabitants of Baltistan): warm, good-humored, massively strong folk content with the simple life. Sparsely equipped and using makeshift “piggyback” carriers they each manage to lug 30 kilos of stuff up to base camp. Respect!


42 I43

Th in air ? ab ou t th ink to him sel f Flo has a lit tle ua lly do ing he re. what he ’s act

3 days through the wild

& BARREN landscape askole - Baltoro Muztagh - trango towers

gilgit-Baltistan

PAKISTAN

journey to the heart of the mountains

Our trusty companion franzi Unfortunately he ran out of breath at 4,000 m – well that was chef Ibrahim’s story. Somehow we couldn’t rid ourselves of the feeling that we saw Franzi again a couple of days later – on our plates.

BAAh!


Some would say: “What beautiful mountains!” We say: “Cool peaks dude!”

Masherbrum 7,821 m

great trango tower 6,287 m

Got everything? Chocolate and coffee were subject to frequent inventory checks. In the beginning Nameless Tower wasn’t too impressed with our presence...

Nameless tower 6,251 m

Crack attack: Guido enjoys the awesome rock on the Slovenian route on Nameless Tower.

no He ad ac he !

Head

a ch e

!

What’s next? Quick chill on the sun terrace – Guido needs his beauty sleep, even at 5,400 metres.


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kara korum

eternal flame

pakistan TWENTY-TWE LVE

the nameless tower

Uli Biaho Tower 6,109 m

~ 1,1 0 0

m

and slovenian route


It’s in moments like this that you know why you’ve put yourself through all the trouble and strife.

Ou ch... Cli mb ing coo ls cr ack s me an suf fe rin g. ll baby Rock ’ n ’ ro ulder Guid o vs Bo

1:0

Spot what’s wrong with this photo? That’s right – the climber in red on the right. But Simon simply couldn’t resist checking out this crack line. We forgive him!


no Pen

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Trango II

Severance ridge

It’s well known that ropes are subjected to strict testing, Hechei assesses the “taste” factor.

Climbing in foul weather? Why on earth not? At least there’s no crowd at the belay station.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from: boys will be boys. While Guido and Co are high on the rock face, the Baltis enjoy passing the time at base camp.

t r ango ri ciabat ti is enough

RIDGE

Room with a view: Guido, Simon, Hannes and Hechei enjoy the last warm rays of sun on the sun terrace.

no picture

SEVERANCE

Vertical view on Nameless Tower: Guido and Hannes fight the Eternal Flame.

Whereto nex t? There aren’t a lot of signpost s in the Kar akorum. But like many famous climbing pioneers before us: Where there is a cr ack, you can’t go wrong!


Check out the extended online photo gallery + topos

Who can spot the mista ke in this pic? Right, flowe rs above 4,000 metres, where does that happe n?

On the last evening at base camp the remaining “altitude medicine” in liquid form is consumed.

The South African team have spent the last eight days windswept in tough weather conditions completing the “Eternal Flame” route to within six pitches of the summit with fixed ropes so that they can make it to the summit in one day, using the ropes they have already installed. They started at 3.30, reached the end of the fixed ropes by 8.00 and finally cracked the summit at 19.00. Hannes and I didn’t want to start climbing on the same day as those three and so waited until a day later for our attempt. We started at 6.30 and at 18.00 reached the 6,250-metre summit of the most wonderful mountain we have climbed so far. The mountains around lit up more intensively than ever before and it was truly an unbelievable moment – simply to be there. We wanted to take a photo of us at the top and then start abseiling down, but reality stopped our euphoria in its tracks. The camera battery is flat, but it’s better to have a summit and no photo than have to turn around. “Eternal Flame” really is a climber’s dream with golden granite and cracks of all shapes and sizes that presented us with a hefty challenge. Respect to Wolfgang Güllich, Kurt Albert and Co, who first climbed the route in 1989 – at a time when we still believed in Santa Claus – and to the Huber Brothers, who climbed it redpoint in 2009. The same day Jakob and Flo also had success: after three days’ climbing non-stop they stood atop Trango Ri having managed the first ascent of the mixed, previously untapped route “Ciabatti is enough”. On arriving back at base camp we received some bad news. The “road” (you’ll understand the quote marks if you know it) has been cut off in four places due to landslides and the whole Karakorum “Hellway” has been closed due to political unrest. The only option is a domestic flight from Skardu to Islamabad, which takes a mere 40 minutes but only takes off if there isn’t a cloud in the sky. We finally arrive in Skardu – following a tough journey in the Jeep, which almost gave up the ghost while a landslide almost gave up our ghosts – and look forward to the fundamental pleasures of civilization, especially bed, showers and food. But you know what it is like with food: not everything that goes in stays in, and it was this first evening meal that turned our stomachs to such an extent that most of us were still rushing to the call of nature with greetings from Pakistan many weeks after we arrived back home. Somehow we managed to get to the overrun military airfield at Skardu, where we found the noise and people armed to the teeth slightly disconcerting. When somebody smashed a window as well, we simply couldn’t wait to get on board that flight. After 40 minutes we arrived in Islamabad, where Iqubal from our trekking agency faithfully picked us up and brought us to a plush hotel. In the evening we had beers at 7 euros a go and pizza from Pizza Hut: what more could you ask for! The next day we are heading home – we could hardly sleep due to anticipation… At the airport we checked in our luggage and made our way cheerily to passport control where a “friendly” airport employee informed us that our visas expired 10 days ago. His final words “No flight today!” hit us like a left hook from Mike Tyson right into the middle of our stunned faces, instantly wiping out our good mood like an opponent hitting the mat. Our visas really had expired. Because Max took all our passports to the embassy in Vienna and was only staying in Pakistan for 30 days himself, the officials obviously assumed that we all intended to stay in Pakistan for 30 days. The problem was that a visa for 30 days clearly doesn’t cover a 6-week visit. This was the first challenge on the whole trip for which we didn’t have a witty response – and that was the way it was to be all day. It was like a conspiracy against us, against our good mood and our looking forward to finally coming home. The friendly gentlemen at the Ministry of the Interior were then not so friendly and made their point of view absolutely clear. They told us that if we wanted our A4-sized travel application to be processed today, then we would need to pay the sum of € 1,500, otherwise it would take 4 to 6 weeks… Paid, cleared, booked, flown – on the next best plane, in business class, lie-flat seats, champagne, whisky, gourmet cuisine, beer; Oman, Munich and at last home sweet home…


AAh!

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5 centimetres? Or really only 4? (Un)fortunately not visible in this photo, but it was pretty damn cold. Trying to look cool in the 4WD: In truth the tortoise was sticking its head out!

Karakorum says “Goodbye” to us – with an outlook like this it feels more like “See you again soon”.

The last few weeks have left their mark!

VI SA MADNE SS! !!

you can never come back home. .

if you never travel, KIND OF SUMS IT UP.

guido unterwurzacher /Aust ria

Slightly stressful situation at Skardu airport, but better a 40-minute flight than 2 days screaming down the Karakorum “Hellway”!


PAKISTAN specials

From Pakistan to Baffin Island, all climbing expeditions have one thing in common: long journeys and lots down time. There are inevitably days when heinous thunderclouds are girdling the peak, but above base camp it’s all blue sky and sunshine. That’s the perfect time to rack up some mileage on the base camp boulders or take an exploratory hike around the area. Check out a range of accessories and must-haves for your next active rest day. 1. Swift Solo From mountain to base camp – the Swift Solo is your perfect companion for any leisure activity. The entry-level alpine model is available in two sizes. Technical features and high-quality LST™ filters are combined to create very light and versatile multi-sports eyewear. For maximum comfort, the nose pads can be adjusted in two directions. 2. ED Reversible Wind Jacket Temperatures change fast in the alpine, so a lightweight layer like the everyday outdoor Reversible Wind Jacket is a must-have for basecamp bouldering outings. This colorful top features a check pattern on one side (available in university red, sub green & sub blue) but flips around to reveal a climaproof ® wind – certified ripstop polyester fabric for gusty weather. 3. Ultra-lightweight climbing and mountaineering helmet with a maximum weight of 165 g, the Petzl SIROCCO helmet becomes the new standard in terms of lightness. The monobloc construction minimizes helmet weight while retaining excellent impact resistance, due to the mechanical properties of expanded polypropylene (EPP). The textile adjustment system also contributes to its lightness. This helmet comes with a new magnetic buckle which allows the chinstrap to be attached with one hand. 4. Helmet camera The new GoPro HD HERO3 camera line-up – which includes a White, Silver and Black Edition – is the perfect travel companion for capturing amazing Footage. Each new edition retains the iconic look of the award winning HD HERO cameras but comes in at about half the size of its predecessors and has built-in Wi-Fi technology. At the top end of the new product series, the HD HERO3 Black Edition is one of the most powerful camera systems available, delivering astounding 4 K and 2.7 K video resolutions all in the size of a small box of matches. 5. ED Big Graphic Tee It’s nice to balance your expedition-ready arsenal of synthetic layers with a few cotton tops so you can roll in style your rest days. The ED Big Graphic Tee features climalite® fabric made of a 60/40 organic cotton/recycled polyester blend for the perfect mix of performance and comfort. It comes also in vivid yellow & vivid red. ED Check Long Sleeve Shirt The everyday outdoor Check Long Sleeve Shirt is the ideal travel companion. Soft climalite® material keeps you comfortable and cool before, during and after the expedition. Mid-arm snaps hold rolled sleeves in place when the temperatures start rising. Also available in sub green & university red. 6. Climacool Boat Flip A long day in climbing shoes is bound to make your feet crave freedom. Give them what they want with the climacool Boat Flip. A moulded EVA-foam midsole and footbed as well as the padded straps guarantee a great fit. climacool® vents underfoot allow your feet to breathe after a big push in the mountains. 7. Terrex Socks After all the care you’ve put into keeping your core and legs dry and comfortable, your feet will want in. Both the knee-length Terrex Allround Socks and anklelength Terrex Light Socks are knit with PrimaLoft® yarn so sweat can escape while warmth stays in. You’ll also be thankful for the anatomically placed cushioning when you’re shuttling loads with a heavy pack.

sp •

ka

8. ED Boulder Shorts Just because you’re climbing around base camp doesn’t mean range of motion isn’t important. The everyday outdoor Boulder Short gives you the best of both worlds: the comfort of denim and a carefully articulated cut with stretch fabric for high steps and heel hooks. Want something longer? Check out the ED Boulder Pants. 9. HLP 30 The Haul Pack 30 takes the look of a dry bag and adds comfortable straps for easy carrying. The 30-litre body is made of extremely durable material and holds anything you might need for a day out, from climbing shoes and a chalk bag to a rain shell and energy bars for scouting missions around base camp. Also available in a 20-litre size.

sp


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adidas.com/outdoor

1

pecials

3

2 6 4

8

arakorum

pring /summer •

7

5

9


TECHNOLOGY FOOTWEAR

whichever

challenges... ...the mountains present to athletes, they need to be able to rely on their footwear. Slipping can have fatal consequences, while at best it simply wastes energy. The terrex™ footwear developers are constantly working on innovative technologies to provide unbeatable grip on any surface in all weather conditions at the same time as enable energy-conserving mountain ascents and descents. Selecting the right rubber compound for the sole is decisive for grip. The design of the profile must be ideally tuned to both the material compound and the application. That’s because the shape, number and configuration of the studs play a major role when it comes to reliable grip and fast forward motion on differing ground surfaces, regardless of whether it is wet or dry, loose stones or solid rock, muddy or a crisscross of tree roots. On descents it is all about reducing impact and stress to the joints and guaranteeing precise heel-to-toe roll – which is where the FORMOTION® unit does its part.

01/ PROFILE DESIGN For a perfect sole, the geometry and configuration of each individual stud need to be fine-tuned in detail. The TRAXION™ sole features L-shaped studs. They provide an open profile for clawing up loose, soft terrain and preventing slipping. To ensure this level of grip on ascents and descents, the studs on the forefoot and heel are arranged facing each other. And because the greatest forward movement is generated by the big toe, the studs here are located closer together. The cross-shaped grooves on the studs displace water to increase the area of contact in the wet.

02/ CONTINENTAL The optimum rubber compound is a decisive factor for grip. The Continental rubber compound that is used on all terrex™ fast models generates up to 30% more adhesion in wet and dry conditions than comparable models of boot on the market. This is an important safety factor, considering that on the mountain you always have to take changing conditions into account. Thanks to the extremely high friction values provided by the Continental rubber compound, the studs only need a relatively small area of surface contact to generate sufficient grip with an open profile.

03/ FORMOTION® The FORMOTION® unit in the heel retards heel-to-toe velocity during descents, equalises rough terrain, and as a result noticeably reduces stress transmitted to the athlete’s joints. Two 3-dimensional, half moon-shaped plates in the heel shift depending on heel impact and ground conditions. This controls each step to initiate precise heel-to-toe movement. The FORMOTION® unit is isolated from the rest of the sole profile so that it can operate independently. It is equipped with deep grooves to guarantee additional control and braking power on steep descents.


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TECHNOLOGY FOOTWEAR

M/TERREX FAST R MID GTX

M/TERREX FAST X

M/terrex fast r

terrex™ fast line

all continental Continental offers unbeatable grip even at high speed in both wet and dry conditions. That’s why it is the material of choice for the athletic terrex™ fast hiking boot line.


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adidas.com/outdoor

W/TERREX FAST X

W/TERREX FAST X GTX

W/TERREX FAST R MID GTX

All terrex™ fast models guarantee lightness, stability and excellent ground surface control and are therefore ideal for multiple functions. The FORMOTION® unit in the heel equalises rough terrain and reduces heel-to-toe velocity while minimising stress on the joints. As you would expect from a boot called “fast”, it features a Speed lacing system that doesn’t

budge even on the steepest descent. The Terrex Fast R is the lightweight of the entire terrex™ collection. It dispenses with every unnecessary gramme without compromising on stability and as a result is ideal for fast hikes with small payloads. If you are planning longer tours with a heavier rucksack and need more stability but are still looking for a lightweight

boot, then look no further than the Fast X collection. The Terrex Fast R and Fast X are available in three versions: as a mid-height model with GORE-TEX® and as a low-cut version with or without GORE-TEX®.


FEUERHĂśrndl

... Feuerhorn north face – these are high-end routes of similar grade to Yosemite, just with a home advantage. Alexander Huber


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PHOTOs timeline pro

duction, HANNES MAI

R

neck of the woods

Four Huber me wall: cla ssics on the ho ”, “The End of Silence with “Siddhartha”, ” wall and “Fire “Monstermagnet” er Huber wrote nd xa Ale Thoma s and Feuerhorn. climbing history on isn’t finished A story that still s still because young climber face with flock to this rock . es ut ro its high-end and Charly Fritzer Barbara Zangerl . recently hung in there


monstermagnet

siddhartha

firewall

the end of silence

the


58 I59 N

Thomas: “Some routes lie dormant for

S

Out of Berchtesgaden

Legend goes that Thomas Huber dragged a door up Feuerhorn. A door? Up the rock face? “Yes, that’s right,” says Thomas. But it wasn’t a house door, it was the door of a cupboard and he used it to build a platform on the 350-m-high buttress. It was in 1994 that he spent many days trying his route “The End of Silence”. There simply wasn’t a convenient ledge to work from, he says. He set himself up a comfortable platform on the steep rock face with a couple of fixed ropes and the old door. “Then I was able to take a break, have a drink and look down into the amazing gaping emptiness below me,” he says in reminiscence. The Feuerhorn near Reiter Alm in Berchtesgaden, Germany: that’s where the Huber Brothers wrote climbing history with four severe routes on the compact north face:

Siddhartha (IX-) The End of Silence (X+) Monstermagnet (IX+) And Firewall (X+) It all started with “Siddhartha”; Alexander Huber was just 18 when he made the first ascent in 1987. It was the first free climb in the area. Alex named his project after the book by Hermann Hesse: “Siddhartha didn’t choose to follow the normal route, but he still arrived.” This gave him courage not to take the easy route: “If I had done that then, today I would be a physicist,” says the climber. Even back then, these twelve pitches followed the Huber philosophy: “We wanted an athletic climb without too many bolts. It was about climbing a route with minimum use of fixed protection,” explains Alex. In addition to managing the difficult climb, it is also essential that you are able to place protection yourself. Today, “The End of Silence” is still one of the most important routes for Thomas Huber: “That route matured me, I grew up with it,” he says. Since childhood he had big plans for ascending a route on the grey-black overhanging Feuerhorn north face.

years to the extent that they are almost forgotten, until the repeat ascent climbers arrive and bring them a new life. That’s what happened on Feuerhorn when Barbara Zangerl and Charly Fritzer scored repeat ascents on two of our tough classics. There’s another challenge still waiting there: “Firewall” is looking for somebody to revive it.”

He started back in the 80s, it was a long project: “I kept on having to climb back down and the redpoint took quite a few years to complete.” Completed in 1994, “The End of Silence” belongs together with “Silbergeier” (Beat Kammerlander) and “Des Kaisers neue Kleider” (“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Stefan Glowacz) to what is known as the Trilogy, the three top routes in the Alps that are celebrated and discussed by the climbing scene as well as by their first ascentionists. In addition to athletic placement of protection and challenging climbing in grade 8 and 9, “The End of Silence” also presents a special challenge in terms of endurance: the climber doesn’t reach the crux, which is grade 10, until the top of ninth pitch – small underclings, side pulls, tiny edges and subtle footholds in the overhanging rock make completing the route all the more difficult. Even today the climb is rated one of the most difficult alpine free climbing routes. In 2003 “Monstermagnet” and “Firewall” were used as training ground for the first free ascent of “Zodiac” in Yosemite Valley, USA. In spring the Huber Brothers had attempted the big wall on “El Capitan”, but failed due to excessively high temperatures. Alex and Thomas then returned in summer to the cooler Feuerhorn north face: “Here we’ve got routes of similar difficulty to Yosemite right on our doorstep,” says Alexander. They completed “Monstermagnet”, which Alex first ascended ten years previously, but had not yet redpointed, followed by “Firewall”. “That was the best preparation, that got us in shape,” says Alex. Spurred on by Feuerhorn, the Hubers then added the big wall project “Zodiac” to their list in autumn 2003. The four mighty “high-end” routes around Reiter Alm continue to attract new challengers, such as Barbara Zangerl, who last summer was the first woman to climb “The End of Silence” and Charly Fritzer who repeated “Monstermagnet”. But that doesn’t mean that the Feuerhorn story has yet come to an end.


Charly Fritzer repeats

magnet


60 I61

Monstermagnet is sheer rock face where it’s easy to put a foot wrong. I bailed on a number of occasions. Charly Fritzer

The magical monster attraction He makes it sound rough: “The monster is a total brute,” says Charly Fritzer. The route through the plates of rock is very difficult to find, the first pitch is really a moral challenge: a traverse that takes you 15 m away from the protection, and there is the crux just before the top, which is extremely difficult to crack.

He had always admired the overhanging 400-m-high Feuerhorn buttress from the road: “You drive past, look up, and think that’s totally awesome,” says Charly. That’s just got to get any climber’s heart racing, says the 32-year-old from Carinthia, Austria, who some years ago found his second home in Berchtesgaden, Germany. As he says, “Huber routes always have a few surprises in store.” And because he loves adventures with a degree of unpredictability, he chose “Monstermagnet” as a project. This was one of the four classics that had not yet been repeated. And Charly had heard from the Hubers that this route is also an extremely tough mental challenge. Because there are the bare minimum of bolts and whole sections of rock where it is impossible to set protection, the climber risks taking long falls. He had been warned. In autumn 2011 Charly started by taking a couple of “Monster” flying lessons: “There was one foothold that broke away just below a safe bolt where I dropped twenty metres, past where Mario Walder was belaying me,” explains the pro who earns his income as a climber and had already climbed other alpine classics of grade IX (7c). Mario lost his climbing shoe during the fall, so they passed one of Charly’s back and forth on a rope. “That day we were extremely relieved to reach the top.” A repeat ascent, but not a redpoint – but however, it didn’t stay that way. In 2012 Charly returned to Reiter Alm: the time was ripe for the 12-pitch “Monster”. To check out the difficult upper pitch (IX+) and the crux he abseiled down the rock face from above a couple of times. Finally he was sure and asked his friend Matthias Wurzer to partner him on the rock. And then: “It all went very quickly in one day.” Redpoint.

ut e “A really wil d ro ng falli s wi th very fe w bo lt y tel mple co tw en ty me tre s is reali st ic.“

Alexander Huber


The quality of rock is super, totally compact, and there are only holds where you need them. Barbara Zangerl


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First lady On the 9th pitch she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown: “It looked really bad, I could manage the individual moves, but linking them together seemed impossible,” remembers Barbara Zangerl. The 24-year-old had put “The End of Silence” right at the top of her wish list for 2012. You need to have one big project every year, reckons the climber from Tyrol. In June she headed to Berchtesgaden for the first time with her climbing partner Emanuel Falch. The year had started well with her claiming “Super Cirill” (8a/8a+, 9 pitches) in Ticino/Switzerland and “Delicatessen” (8b, 5 pitches) on Corsica. The first contact with Feuerhorn turned out to be a complete flop. Following a two hours approach with heavy backpack – climbing kit and provisions for three days – and a bad night at the foot of the wall, Barbara started climbing: “I thought that quickdraws would be sufficient for an alpine sport climbing route.” She found out that they are not enough on the 3rd relatively easy pitch: “A neat crack dihedral where you could place good protection, if only I’d had a couple of Camalots with me.” With poor protection set on the five pitches behind them Barbara and Emanuel decided to bail. They lugged the heavy backpacks back downhill.

the

l is the Barbara Zangercl first woman to imb

of silence


There were many times that they ran back up the approach, always taking removable protection with them. Now that the Camalot problem had been solved Barbara could fully concentrate on “The End of Silence”: “It’s a smooth wall with few holds, only just as many as you need,” she says. It made it much easier on the lower easy pitches not to continually have to think how many metres she was above the last bolt. The crux doesn’t come until the end, where after eight pitches you still need a great deal of strength, concentration and strong nerves. She took four days to climb the tough boulder problem on the 9th pitch. She didn’t give up. And on the 1st of August the big day came: Barbara was the first woman to manage the redpoint. “The End of Silence” – one of the most difficult alpine sport climbing routes – is now on her list. Her statement: “It’s cool the way Thomas Huber set up that route.”

is still one “The end of silence the Alps... in t routes of the most difficul redd about Barbara’s ... I wa s so plea se y happ w ho e could sens point because you Thomas Huber it made her.“


64 I65

The bolts are very far apart. It costs a lot of energy if you keep thinking about protection. It went much better with a couple of Camalots. Barbara Zangerl

“I had used up a lot of strength by the time I arrived at the crux.� Barbara Zangerl

the

of silence


Barbara’s Tw o ho ur s appr oach by a kpac k fo ll ow ed wi th a heavy bac ts yo u se t yo ur sigh 12- pit ch climb: If n’t do u yo , ngerl Za as high as Barbara . by yo ur apparel wn do t le be to wa nt st an d to ugh are ju Ligh t, co mf or table fu ncy highl t tha teria three of the cri se ha s to fulfil . Becau g hin ot cl tio nal , le tt ba the half d is bei ng well-prepare t time ch oo sin g wha Barbara ta ke s her om ne xt pr ojec t fr she nee ds fo r her n: tio llec co me n’s the ne w ter rex™ wo

Terrex GTX Active Shell Jacket

LIGHT PROTECTION

Terrex GTX Active Shell Jacket #Z08926 When you climb a 350-m north facing route you need good protection in case the weather catches you out - even in summer. Barbara chose the Terrex Active Shell, a lightweight jacket that keeps wind and rain at bay all while offering unparalleled breathability. The hood is adjustable and even fits over a helmet.

SECOND SKIN

Terrex Short Sleeve Tee #Z09870 Carrying a heavy backpack on an approach that takes hours makes you perspire, even on cold days. The terrex™ T-shirt features a new technology to provide the perfect climate for such adventures. It consists of a mixture of 25% merino wool and 75% recycled polyester, equipped with Cocona® active charcoal particles for effective moisture transport. Now it really doesn’t matter if you work up a sweat.

COOL WIND STOPPER

Terrex Fast Jacket

Terrex Short Sleeve Tee

#Z08483

Jack-of-all-trades: a wind layer has to be comfortable, versatile, plus be able to withstand repeated contact with rock. Barbara reckoned the Terrex Fast Jacket was just right for the job. In addition to robust Windstopper ® material this jacket also offers practical extras such as hand-warmer pockets, an additional chest pocket and a collar with a stowable lightweight hood in climaproof ® material for extreme scenarios. The icing on the cake: if your backpack is already stuffed with quickdraws, cams, rope, climbing shoes and provisions for three days, you’ll hardly notice this lightweight yet extremely robust jacket.

Terrex Fast R GTX

TOUGH PARTNER

Terrex Multi Pants #Z20575 At last pants that really do everything – even stemming in the wildest of dihedrals. The Terrex Multi Pants are made using stretchable Soft Shell with reinforced panels at the stress points. Although the pants are cut skin-tight, they are never going to limit Barbara’s freedom of movement. The outer sur face is water-repellent and dries out in no time.

Impressive IMPACT

Terrex Fast R Mid GTX

#G64507

Long, steep approach to your climb? The Terrex Fast R GTX shoe is the perfect companion to ensure stability and safety, regardless of the terrain. The special rubber compound in the sole also provides unbeatable grip and sure footedness, even on wet surfaces. Barbara picks up the pace uphill and on descents with the mid-cut version. The Terrex Fast R is also available as a low-cut version with and without GORE-TEX®.

Terrex Fast R Mid GTX


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Terrex Fast Jacket

Terrex Multi Pants


TECHNOLOGY FOOTWEAR the women’s terrex fast r mid gtx

eva tongue top for enhanced fit and comfort

speed lacing

heel cap

for fast and snug lacing

for enhanced stability

formotion®

lace bungee

traxion™ outsole with continental rubber compound

gore-tex®

adiprene®+ maintains propulsion and efficiency

more infos on adidas.com/outdoor

un po rc om be ub tal r en tin co n

The Terrex Fast R Mid GTX is the ideal boot for athletic women. It guarantees stability and reliability and weighs just 375 g while putting plenty of grip to the ground. That’s because the TRAXION™ outsole delivers excellent traction in both dry and especially wet conditions thanks to the Continental rubber compound in combination with a complex profile. Then there is the 3D FORMOTION ® unit in the heel which guarantees extra control, equalising rough terrain, stabilising heel-to-toe roll during descents and as a result significantly reducing stress to the joints. An excellent fit is ensured by the last, which is adapted to fit female feet. The shaft and heel are cut slightly narrower than the men’s model, while the boot is slightly wider in the forefoot area to provide sufficient space for the toes.

d

terrex fast r mid gtx


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combines fun with lightness. engineered for ultimate ground control and stability. exceptional grip on wet and dry during fast activities.


Mayan’s Speed record

that e must not forget Alex: “Onma to st fir s wa o wh n

it wa s a wo se”: “It goe s, boys”, free-climb “The No d afterwards. sai Hill n Lyn t is wha how to do it. all us d She showe their own for of ss Men were in a cla d climbing, but now spee in time g lon a t there with us. the women are righ t is one of the Goba thMayan Smi be hearing pioneers - we will a lot about her.”


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adidas.com/outdoor

s climbing eed Autumn 2012, Mayan and I are 200 feet off the floor of Yosemite Valley, California. In the distance, the iconic Yosemite Falls Wall, 2,425 feet tall, which usually draws people from all over the world, is dry and the tourists are gone. In a few weeks, Sierra storms will lash the high country and it will run again. For now all we hear is the sound of a light wind ruffling the trees. I hold the rope between us firmly near the entry point where it passes through the belay device. My eyes follow and anticipate her every move. Mayan Smith-Gobat, 33, from New Zealand, climbs the overhanging, fingerwidth crack above. Her short, dirty blond hair wisps over her ears. As she moves up the sharp crack her skin never cuts.

TEXT CHRIS VAN LEUvEN PHOTOs JOHN DICKEY

is addictive


When she looks down to check the position of her feet, I see her childish grin. She pulls rope up with her free hand, bunching up the slack with her teeth as she reaches for more in order to clip into her next piece of protection. A split second later all points release from the crack and she falls like an elevator car. The pile of rope she’d pulled up snaps free. Quickly, instinctively, I reel the rope in and lock it off stopping her from slamming into the ledge below. “That’s never happened before,” she says calmly. After a brief rest she goes up on the crack again. When she finishes the climb and returns to the ledge she releases a single word of excitement: “Great.” Then looks down at her fingers, examines them. “They’re not too bad.” Spend five minutes with Mayan and you can tell right away she’s not like anyone you’ve ever met before. She’s curt when she talks, and focuses in on goals to the point where it almost doesn’t look fun. See her on the rock while holding the rope in your hands, and her smile shines as she looks down at you and you’ll see how she glows. Mayan got her start on small crags in New Zealand and occasional trips to Mt. Arapiles, Australia; now she is rapidly becoming one of the most recognised female rock climbers in the world. She’s climbed up to 5.14b sport and most recently freed El Cap’s Salathé Wall (VI 5.13b/c) making the second female free ascent. Additionally, she’s climbed El Cap all free in 14 hours via a variation to Salathé, called Free Rider (VI 5.13a, established, solo, by Alex Huber in 1995). Smith-Gobat’s sheer tenacity – her ability to pick a hard goal and follow through – is an inspiration for climbers of any ability. “After climbing the Salathé, I was super happy, but also felt a real sense of loss,” Mayan says while organising her rack on the porch of a Search and Rescue cabin behind Camp 4, Yosemite’s climber campground. “And I felt very lost for a while, because I no longer had a major goal. Free climbing El Cap was a life goal, something I had dreamed of for as long as I can remember.” This season she came to Yosemite, now her 4th season in the Park, to set the women’s speed record on the Nose – the most prominent line up the tallest and proudest wall in Yosemite, El Capitan, at 3,000 feet.


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re

ity hasn’t set in yet that we’re about

to start climbing

On the same day, Mayan and her partner Chantel will climb Half Dome, at 2,000 feet, for the first women’s linkup. Chantel Astorga, 27, held the previous record with Libby Sauter, which was 10 hours and 40 minutes. Recently, in June, Jes Meiris and Quinn Brett had beaten their record at 10:19. The Huber Brothers once held the men’s speed record at 2:45. Libby broke her leg this June while descending a peak in the Sierras, and despite being out of the climb, she’s helping with logistics and planning. Chantel stands several inches above Mayan. She’s climbed the West Rib of Denali and skied it in 2006. Mayan’s arms are defined from constant climbing on hard routes while Chantel’s are thick, a product of Olympic weightlifting in her open sided shack in Idaho. “I lift at dusk in an open shed with snow all around. It’s a special thing.” I did the Nose for the first time and Libby belayed me the whole way,” she told me as we sat around a picnic table at Curry Village. “I was always good at the endurance stuff. This will be the first time I test my Olympic weightlifting training in the field. A View of El Cap and Half Dome The top of El Cap crests over itself, like a big wave; something you’d see at the deep water reef break known as Jaws in Hawaii. The wave is golden, with black specs of lichen. Arching cracks and boulder fins crest over the edge. Looking down from the top, the valley floor below is a green splotch of dark green trees. From the top of Half Dome, looking down from its centre point that juts out above the wide face called the Diving Board are varying shades of grey, the centre of the face is yellow and white with a broken black line down the centre. In this black line is a face resembling an old, crying woman. The Climb, Practice and Preparation Day 1: 19 September, 3.37 am – In the middle of the night the El Cap Bridge is bustling with people. Mayan talks in her typical low voice requesting that I keep quiet so she can stay focused on the task at hand.

Once at the base of the Nose, four sets of ropes hang to the ground, the sign of many parties vying for a multi-day ascent. 4.34 am – The women are now climbing. 400 ft above, another team lets out the occasional cough Mayan releases a single grunt. Passing other teams is tricky and will add time to Mayan and Chantel’s ascent. In the moonless night there is no definition between headlamps and stars. John Dickey, the photographer, calls the lights “El Cap constellations”. After several hours of hiking around to the east side of El Cap and ascending fixed ropes, we make it to the top of the Nose and wait for Mayan and Chantel. In the early afternoon I faintly hear Mayan say from below: “Off belay.” Minutes later Mayan crests over the rim but is unable to move more than a few feet at a time as she approaches the tree marking the end of their route. For 15 minutes they drag themselves up the lip of El Cap. Below, Chantel says, “Sorry, my hands cramped.” Mayan is barefoot, visibly thirsty, and heat exhaustion shows on her face. Sun bakes the golden slabs. Soon they both reach the tree that marks the top of the climb and Mayan checks her watch: 2.29 pm, they shaved nine minutes off the record for a total time of 10:10.“Yay, we won the record!” they say in unison. “It’s awesome watching you climb,” Chantel says. “If we start earlier and not in the sun, we can cut two hours easily,” says Mayan. While hydrating she recalls the five teams they had to pass. “I’d like to do this in eight hours and then go for the link-up.” The next day, back at Curry Village, I ask them why they speed climb walls. They laugh and say there is no point to it. Later, Mayan says it’s addictive to move continuously over such huge walls. As Hans Florine and Bill Wright state in their book “Speed Climb”, “The ability to move quickly by cutting out extraneous gear provides a joyous sensation of unrestricted motion.”


It's gonna take a while until anyone takes it.

li le

The Big Day 22 September, 1.46 am – I’m waiting for Chantel and Mayan at El Cap Bridge. It’s still, unlike last time. There are fewer cars parked along the side of the road. I hear a fish surface in the Merced River and crickets in the distance. I think about the day ahead: up and down El Cap and Half Dome is 16,810 feet of elevation change. I imagine how the last hours of the day will feel. 2.25 am – Chantel and Mayan arrive at the bridge. “It’s warm,” says Chantel as they rack up. Soon we head to the base of the Nose.

2.53 am – Mayan takes a sip and says, “I’m going to start heading up. 10 second warning right now. “Gear jangles and aluminium carabiners collide and slide along the rock as they weave up to the start of the route. John and I turn and head up the East Ledges. We arrive to the summit as quickly as possible so we don’t miss them topping out. 10.35 am – Mayan reaches the tree at the top of the Nose. She looks confident, psyched. She’s pulling the rope up and around the tree. “Go Chantel!” she yells with encouragement. “I’m timing on my clock.” Chantel tags the tree. Their time is 7:26. They shaved nearly three hours off the record. One after another they yell: “Yee hah! Yeah hoo!” “That went perfect,” says Mayan. “You did awesome.” “We’re the fastest women up, women or mixed team. It’s gonna take a little while until anyone beats that.” Chantel has a confident smile; her cheeks are uplifted and tucked beneath her shades.

After rehydrating we head to the East Ledges and rappel off the side of El Cap. Libby, Chantel and Mayan are grouped around a picnic table. There’s spinach, sausage and water. The women, hands still taped up from the climb, wolf down food with their dirty hands. Someone hangs pink and white leis over their necks. Soon we’re on our way to Curry Village to pick up our bikes before riding the path to Mirror Lake. Once there we’ll stash them and dash up the Death Slabs, the scorching sun beating on our backs, and up to the base of Half Dome. 4.04 pm – Mayan has the rope in a “kiwi coil”, she says, over her shoulder. They’re prepared to simul climb. Chantel is racked up with a huge amount of gear. It wraps the front of her like a rainbow of metal and webbing. Both women have a look of fatigue to them and each motion takes more effort to execute than it did earlier in the day. I can see in their eyes that they’re thinking about what’s ahead and the pain to come. “Reality hasn’t set in yet that we’re about to start climbing,” says Chantel. “I’m not as excited to climb this now as I was at the top of El Cap,” says Mayan. 4.28 pm – Chantel steps off the ground, moving slowly, cautiously. 30 feet up she places her first piece of protection before stemming out onto a small roof. Dickey and I turn and prepare to meet them on top.

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11.19 pm – Mayan is nearing the top of Half Dome. Once on top she quickly makes an anchor and belays Chantel to the top. Then asks for space. “Let me get away from the edge,” she says. Without untying or taking off any of her gear, she collapses on the slab, far from the edge and lies still with her head tucked in her arms. Moments later she gets up and her eyes are wet. “I held it together until the end,” she says. She explains that she overlooked eating and drinking on Half Dome. There’s a brisk wind. They talk but not much. After they exchange a hug we hike down the steep, slick Half Dome cables route, cut off the shoulder and descend the Death Slabs. At 2.30 am, back at the bikes, we see Libby’s gift: two beers stashed by the bikes and “Just sent!” drawn in cursive on a cut up, decorated shoebox. We get on our bikes and ride back. The next afternoon I meet up with the women and the crew in El Cap Meadow. “I may even be back for the triple next year, are you keen?” Mayan asks to Chantel, referring to adding the 2,000 feet Mt. Watkins in 24 hours as well. She also mentioned freeing El Cap and Half Dome in a day. She’s excited to do it. We’ll see. Chantel returns to Idaho. A few days later, Mayan teams up with Sean Leary and they climb the Nose in 4:29. He writes in a blog, “I’m absolutely positive Mayan can do it at least two hours faster if she wants to.” Later that day she leaves the valley and catches her flight back to Australia for her next climbing objective. She leaves Yosemite not only having set the women’s team record but also the mixed team record.


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just

by mayan and chantel

WOMEN’S NOSE RECO

RD

16.09. 2011 Chantel Astorga and Libby Sauter set the record at 10: 40. 11.06. 2012 Jes Meiris and Quinn Brett set the new record at 10: 19. 19.09. 2012 During their practice run, Cha ntel Astorga and Mayan Sm ith- Gobat set the new record at 10:10. 22.09. 2012 Chantel Astorga and Ma yan Smith Gobat set the new rec ord at 7:26, taking nearly 3 hours off the record.

MIX ED GENDER NOSE RECORD 29.0 9.2012

Sean Lear y and Mayan Smith-Gobat climb it in 4:29.

MEN’S NOSE RECORD Alex and Thomas Huber 08.10.200 7 set the new record at 2:45. ean Potter and Sean Lear y 0 D .201 06.11 set the new record at 2:36. Alex Honnold and Hans Flor ine 2 .201 17.06 set the new record in 2:23.


reinhold messner

climbers’ adventure Reinhold Messner


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adidas.com/outdoor

In order to understand the game that climbers play, we need to go back a long way. Every discussion about climbing is about the HOW? . On the one hand there is the question concerning the extent to which we can manipulate natural rock using technology, and on the other there is the nature of people, climbing at the limit. It’s also about style, understanding nature and achieving the ultimate experience, not just about ethics and ecology. Back in 1911, Paul Preuß – provocateur and spokesman for the “bolt conflict” – focused on the safety of climbers and promoted skill rather than protection, which to his mind only helped to conceal the real risks. His claim – “Ability is the measure for gauging feasibility” – found understanding among his colleagues, but few followers. Almost 50 years later the “Direttissima debate” was about using pitons and drilled bolts as technical aids to conquer previously impossible, virgin rock faces in the Alps. Pitons, which were hammered into cracks and recesses – both at belay points and as intermediate aids – had been in use for some time. Paul Preuß understood the rope to be used as protection and climbing aid only for the belayer – that’s all the hemp rope was there for – and the lead climber was expected to climb and descend each section freely and safely. In the 20s and 30s the second climber belayed the lead climber on “extreme rock”, who was climbing at his limit placing any number of intermediate protection aids. Intermediate protection aids were placed where the natural rock permitted, preferably where you could stand, and not at a point where your hands were occupied with a difficult section of climbing. Whoever was unable to move forwards in this way was then forced into aid climbing, quite simply because the next hook or bolt could only be placed hanging off a rope – as on Zinnen-Nordwand 1933 – or using a rope ladder – Direttissima 1958. Methods involving the use of aids such as ladders, bolts, étriers and connecting cords to nail overhanging walls led the “Direttissima debate” into a dead end while triggering the demand for a more up-to-date evaluation of difficulty grades for modern climbing routes: the discussion revolved around the introduction of the 7th grade (6b on the French scale, which applies almost everywhere for sport climbing). The resulting uproar was on a scale similar to the noise generated by the building of the Tower of Babel. But why? Because many climbers used the difficulty grade to qualify their first ascent in terms of their climbing ability – information for follow-up climbs was of secondary importance.

It wasn’t until the difficulty grade was opened upwards that climbing ability escalated and soon there were grade seven climbs in Kaisergebirge, Bergell, in the Dolomites, where Zanolla and Mariacher in particular blew apart the old grading system with their first ascents. Who would have guessed back then that just 30 years later there would be an 11th grade? In the mountains! During a symposium in September 1978 in Munich, leading specialists from the USA and Europe agreed to introduce the 7th grade. The main proponents were Fritz Wießner – who had still opposed extending the six-grade scale upwards at the beginning of the 70s, but by now was in favour – and Pit Schubert, chairman of the German Alpine Club (DAV) safety committee. As Pit Schubert rightly pointed out, “until the 50s difficult climbs were directly associated with hammering in bolts. It wasn’t until a few years ago that we began to realise that climbing on bolts leads into a dead end. Since then we have fully embraced the concept of free climbing.” The UIAA was also of the opinion that “today’s extreme climbers are at least one grade better than the climbing greats of the 30s to 50s. They trained, but nothing like climbers train today.” When the 7th grade gained official recognition, Kurt Albert came up with a brilliant idea: the “Redpoint Movement”. His vision – closely linked to climbing ethics with their roots in Elbe Sandstone and the free-climbing ideology in the USA – met with instant support. Only the natural holds offered by the rock should be used to move forwards. The routes marked out by the Frankenjura climbers that had previously been climbed using bolts for upward progress and were then free-climbed were marked with a red spot – hence the term “redpoint”. Kurt Albert was the first to do this consistently and raise awareness of the free-climbing movement like nobody else. The redpoint community then shifted from climbing crags into the Alps. Routes like the Schüsselkar southeast face, Walkerpfeiler, Tofanapfeiler and even the Blaitière west face, to name just a few, got their redpoint ascents. The movement clearly showed that with the necessary intensive and methodical training the limit of freely climbable rock had not been reached by a long chalk.

Thanks to this philosophy, specific training and improved protection aids, the young generation scrambled over the old tabus at a terrific rate. While the feasibility of a seventh grade had been played down ten years previously, many top climbers moved in the realms of the 9th and 10th grade (7c and 8b). 20 years ago the very best were already working towards the 10th grade (8c).


Waldemar Hartmann, Wolfgang Güllich & Reinhold Messner, ISPO 1992

Photo: Mühlberger/adidas AG

This postcard was written to Annette Güllich by Reinhold Messner after the opening of his Mountain Museum. The exhibition also contains Güllich mementos, like Wolfgang’s climbing shoes and harness.

The worldwide popularity of free-climbing radically redrew the map for this sport: climbers from all over the globe made pilgrimages to Verdon, the Calanques, Buoux and to Mount Sainte-Victoire in Céüse. Other climbing hotspots took shape in Italy – Finale Ligure, Arco, Sperlonga, Muzzerone and Gaeta – as well as over on Corsica and the Balearic Islands. Rock in Catalonia and Andalusia also became fashionable, followed by South Africa, Oman and so on. New climbing routes were opened up all over the place, as well as new climbing gyms. Today there are more than a million sport climbers worldwide. Sport climbing also has a huge influence on classic alpine climbing; the average skill level is on the increase. Wolfgang Güllich was one of the first to demonstrate how different disciplines can benefit each other. Others who strove to conquer the most challenging routes include Didier Raboutou, François Petit, Isabelle Patissier, François Legrand and Fred Rouhling from France, Ron Kauk and Lynn Hill from the USA, the Italians Maurizio “Manolo” Zanolla and Pietro Dal Prà, Ben Moon from Great Britain, the Austrian Beat Kammerlander, the Spaniard Bernabé Fernández, the Slovenian Tadej Slabe and Yuji Hirajama from Japan.

Wolfgang Güllich Action Directe, 1991

In 1990 the UIAA organised the first official World Climbing Championships. On artificial rock faces! However, there are many climbers who continue to prefer natural rock and have made climbing their profession. In 1988, Todd Skinner and Paul Piana managed the first free team ascent of The Salathé Wall on El Capitan; while Peter Croft climbed “Astroman” free solo. Wolfgang Güllich was the first person in the world to climb the XI- route “Wallstreet”; Isabelle Patissier managed difficulty grade 5.13d (8b or X).


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Wolfgang Güllich, Kurt Albert, Milan Sykora & Christoph Stiegler Trango Towers, Pakistan, Eternal Flame, 1989 – first ascent

ETERNAL FLAME GULLICH 1989/HUBER 2009 Alexander & Thomas Huber Trango Towers, Pakistan, Eternal Flame, 2009 – first redpoint ascent

At the beginning of the 90s the absolute star is Wolfgang Güllich. Worldwide. With ACTION DIRECTE he is first to climb 5.14d (9a or XI). Beat Kammerlander opens a series of challenging free-climbs on the big limestone walls in the Alps and Güllich applies his climbing skills to the Trango Towers in Karakorum. By 1988 Güllich is already performing the “state-of-the-art” at elevations of 6000 m. Together with Kurt Albert and Hartmut Münchenbach he free-climbs the “Yugoslavian route” on Nameless Tower in Karakorum. Difficulty grade VIII+ at an altitude of 6000 m. A year later Güllich, Milan Sykora, Christof Stiegler and Kurt Albert open up the route “Eternal Flame” on the same summit, difficulty grade: IX-/A2. Then follows “Riders on the Storm” on the Paine Towers in Patagonia: IXth grade. Güllich, the visionary, Kurt Albert, a genius of an athlete, Bernd Arnold with his Elbe Sandstone experience – and many other mountaineers from all over the world – prove with their routes that they can combine enormous climbing talent with alpine experience to climb high-altitude mountains. And – regardless of whether it’s in the Himalayas, Patagonia, Greenland, on Baffin Island or in the Antarctic – the vertical world offers many challenges. Above all, though, it is his first solo ascent of “Separate Reality” (VIII+) in Yosemite and his first ascents “Punks in the Gym” (X+, Arapiles/ Australia, 1985), “Wallstreet” (XI-, Franconian Switzerland, 1987) and “Action Directe” (XI, Franconian Switzerland, 1991) that make Wolfgang Güllich the leader of the climbing scene. He continuously shifts the limit of what is humanly possible. But Wolfgang Güllich dies 31 August 1992 as the result of a fatal car accident. His epoch comes to a sudden end. What lives on is his legacy – a legacy that will be continued by the new stars Thomas and Alexander Huber. Wolfgang Güllich was irrefutably one of the best climbers of all time. Thanks to his years of systematic training, his natural ability and his worldwide success, he remains a benchmark for everybody who puts themselves to the test. Anybody who saw him live or on film could not fail to be impressed. Being a born natural was no empty claim. Here was a man who climbed as naturally in the highest degrees of difficulty as anyone else walks through a wood.

What he liked doing best – “mucking about 3 metres above the ground, swimming, eating ice cream, lying in a meadow, travelling at any time of year” – today belongs to the acrobatic discipline of mountaineering: sport climbing. Wolfgang Güllich was right when he noted: “Raising the overall performance level does the same for professional level.” The popularity of the stars and growing number of fans are proof of that. Their extraordinary achievements, record-setting ascents alongside action-packed films continue to draw more and more interest from the public, too. This young movement not only attracted new climbers but also brought a breath of fresh air into the climbing community. On one hand, the competition scene has also become established as a discipline in its own right and on the other hand the best alpinists in the business travel to the end of the world to apply their skills on challenging expeditions: Patagonia, the Antarctic and Baffin Island are destinations that crop up again and again. It wasn’t the mountain gods who prevented climbers from competing at the Olympics or in World Championships, it was the functionaries. They were not prepared to recognise climbing as an Olympic discipline. Still, climbs and climbers were measured, compared and ratings were given. Climbers are only human after all. The scene knows who is “in”. “Out” is somebody who falls and dies. They will be forgotten more quickly than Willo Welzenbach and Leo Maduschka, two singers who sang heroic German climbing songs. It is no longer necessary to die to become a hero. What remains to be seen is where the best of the free-climbers will be climbing tomorrow. (Reinhold Messner, 12/2012)


GüLLICH – A retrospect

“Having sufficient strength is a condition that doesn’t exist.” Wolfgang Güllich

DID You

KNOW

THAT ...

... legendary Franconian climber Wolfgang Güllich was sponsored by adidas.

During his lifetime he was a climbing legend, a visionary, a pioneer, part of the climbing avant-garde, somebody who raised the level of the game on cliffs, big walls and mountains alike. Like no other, Wolfgang Güllich left his mark on the world of climbing with the advent of sport climbing in the 1980s and 1990s. He, who died so young in a car accident, was a real explorer. A man for whom new territory was of mythical significance; pioneering new routes, shifting the limits. Pushing the limits in outdoor sports is perhaps most challenging of all because you are hemmed in by the infeasible more than anywhere else. As hard as it is to repeat the most difficult routes, regardless of the strength and daring it costs, to climb these routes first is all the more challenging. The repeat climber knows that it is possible, the first climber knows nothing. Today, climbing the highest mountain without oxygen cylinders remains an unbelievable feat that carries a high level of risk. When Reinhold Messner decided to become the first person to turn this into reality, it was a risk out of all proportion: no experience, no reference data, no examples to go on. Güllich once wrote an article about creativity being the real key to climbing unknown routes, questioning the long-accepted ways of thinking. Beat Kammerlander did this with the first free ascent of his tough freeclimbing route Prinzip Hoffnung in Vorarlberg. The only protection he used were tiny cams in even tinier cracks. Amazing just to come up with such a vision! Just like Alex Huber, who opened up the most difficult, visionary routes in the Alps, such as Bellavista and Pan Aroma. What these characters share, perhaps, is their analytical perception, ongoing reality checks and a healthy capacity to assess what is still feasible. There is a fine line to be drawn between imagination and reality when covering new ground. Ability, experience, vision. Traits that characterise the adidas Outdoor team. Wolfgang Güllich had these character traits. With the ascent of his route Action Directe in Frankenjura he raised the bar in the art of free-climbing to a new level. The magic threshold of the 11th grade has been conquered. A milestone in sport climbing had been set. Archive Wolfgang güllich – Thomas ”BALLI” BALLENBERGER


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adidas.com/outdoor Tough training for Action Directe: hanging off your fingertips on the campus board. French climbers have named the board after its inventor: “Pan Güllich”.

With Wolfgang Güllich the climbing world lost one of its finest protagonists. The idol of a whole climbing generation. Somebody who determined the ultimate in climbing, more than once shifting the limit in what was climbable on unbelievably difficult routes. He was a role model for younger climbers because he was quite simply the best in the world, setting new milestones over and over again and following an uncharted path. He brought alpinists and freeclimbers together because in the highest mountains on the planet – in the Himalayas and in Patagonia – he pioneered the free-climbing technique. He was also respected by his peers because he stuck to his guns, unswerving in his dedication to the spor t as an individualist. Exemplar y because he displayed incredible self-determination and nonchalance in a climbing scene that regarded itself as a subculture, enveloped in the esprit of the vertical world since the 70s. A closer look at Wolfgang’s life reveals the stor y of a sensitive man with extraordinar y, high intelligence and a rich sense of humour who, quite unlike anybody else, possessed an ability to become engrossed in his sport, a top athlete, a master of cheeky banter, and who would stand with slouched shoulders because he didn’t want to be regarded as a body builder – although he was indeed very proud of his phenomenal strength. A man who deep down remained the shy boy that he had been since his childhood. It is the story of a climbing star who held his head up high, but not his nose. His unmatched ability on the rock radiated through his whole personality. It was easy to like his direct and honest attitude. It was difficult not to be attracted by his charisma. Never arrogant, always thinking of others and never taking the climbing achievements of others as a standard. It was this trait in addition to his world-class performance that turned him into an idol. It was a pleasure to give such a person adulation. Then came the morning of 29 August 1992. Dawn approached like on any other dawn. In the east the heavens turned to a water y red and the sun rested wanly on the horizon. The black motor vehicle ate up the ribbon of grey asphalt heading north. Somewhere between Munich and Nuremberg the car gradually drifted away from the road, slid along the embankment and disintegrated against grey concrete. Wolfgang Güllich died of his severe injuries two days later.

about WOLFGANG Güllich

ted climbing, Alex: “When we star Wa s alrea dy one

Wolfga ng Güllich t. We ha d pos ter s of the world’s bes our beDroom. in ng ngi ha of him He wa s more tha n wa s my idol. my role model - he to climb the me d pire ins ng Wolfga Rou tes such ns. tai un mo t world’s bes ss Namele on as Eternal Flame of Kara korum, Tow er in the wilds which he climbed t.” fir st with Kurt Alber

ACTION DIRECTE TEXT TILMANN HEPP

Just over a minute of ingenious moves, focused power and extreme concentration, 70 seconds for a single section that sets a new milestone in sport climbing. Wolfgang Güllich, for years the pioneer in climbing, is the first person to climb a route rated XI. Eleven tiring days spread over three weeks to crack these ten nearly impossible moves. Freeclimbed, all under his own power. No tricks, no unnecessary deliberation. A preliminary highlight in the rapid evolution in sport climbing performance. Action Directe, 12 m of climbing straight as an arrow up a 45 degree overhanging wall, which requires direct action – hence the name – and from a physical point of view is an unmitigated terror attack on the finger joints.

The entry move involves a dynamic jump to a two-finger pocket. The following section is the most difficult: a ruthless and technically complex sequence involving shallow one-finger pockets, small pinches and difficult foot movements. The culminating move is a demanding exit dyno. On top of that, the climb does not have any resting holds. This means that clipping into protection demands maximum strength. Wolfgang Güllich focuses on achieving this passage through a micro world on the rock, on the verge of breaking the barrier in climbing difficulty grading. It’s not easy for him. However, since he had opened up four grade X routes in the previous months and had repeated his Wallstreet route, the first in the world to be graded lower XI, he aimed upwards on the scale with Action Directe in the XIth grade. A grade that had never before been assigned to a route.


“You don’t go for a coffee after climbing; coffee is an integral part of climbing.” Wolfgang Güllich

At this time he went to great pains to clarify that the “XI” was only a suggestion, and stipulated that only other climbers could verify it. What helped him was the fact that this wasn’t the first time he had faced this problem. 1984 Wolfgang Güllich climbed Kanal im Rücken, the first grade X route worldwide, 1985 he managed the first X+ with Punks in the Gym. 1987 Güllich created the first XI- on the planet with Wallstreet. Hardly surprising, then, that Güllich’s suggested grade has been confirmed by repeat climbers and that Action Directe has gone down in the annals of sport climbing history as the first grade 11 route. A new climbing record to a certain extent. However, behind the simple number XI hides far more than just the designation of a sporting record. What is written here on paper as a new degree of difficulty, is the expression of a life – as so often in high-level sport – between visionary optimism and painful doubt about success, between the toughest training and the desperate hope that optimum conditions will prevail on the day to ensure that success is the final result. Raising the bar in free-climbing ability is mostly the consequence of dedicated preparation. In April 1991 Wolfgang Güllich starts training having set new milestones in alpine free-climbing at altitude from the Himalayas to Patagonia in the previous three years. No more expeditions, no more travelling for weeks at a time. True to his credo of creating a new “highlight” – as he called them – in sport climbing every year, he begins his preparations. Training in the hi-tech studio sparkling with chrome and on the campus wall, surrounded by plush carpets in the fitness centre, is a playground in stark contrast to outdoor climbing in the hills of the Frankenjura. Güllich, one of the most capable analysts in climbing, knows what needs to be done to create a new route at the limits. If, like him, you have spent more than a decade participating in the development of climbing as a sport at world-class level, then you get an idea of how a route in a new grade of difficulty has to take shape. There is typical climbing in Frankenjura, which is extremely short, strength-sapping and overhanging, doesn’t allow for any kind of break or rest and involves climbing using your fingertips only. A load – as an analyst would call it – in the sub-maximum region lasting up to one minute. And that is how Güllich drew up his training programme.

GÜLLICH’S

ACTIONDIRECTE

The classic script for a phase of training looks like this: hanging off your fingertips on small ledges on an overhanging training board, static holds interchanged with fast-flowing climbs without opportunity to regenerate within 60 seconds – typical of the Frankenjura, grabbing smaller and smaller ledges and widely-spaced holds without any technical aids until the contact area is reduced to individual finger pairs and your triceps have reached the proportions needed for tough sequences. Intensive, dynamic and objective – the trilogy for success. In each fraction of a second that your hand seeks the next hold, strength runs relentlessly through your forearms and your energy drains away without mercy. This level does not have a great deal to do with thinking about your next move and gradually edging your way towards the next finger hold. Your muscles are exploding and your fingers have to locate each hold instantaneously, otherwise gravity pulls you unforgivingly into the depths. Güllich improves his eye-to-hand co-ordination, optimises the dynamics of his movements and builds up speed. In between the monotonous grind in artificial light Güllich is always drawn back to natural rock for the passion and coordination. During his search for the ideal climbing line to meet the criteria of a new limit grade, Wolfgang’s friend Milan Sykora tells him to check out an inconspicuous cliff that goes by the name of Waldkopf. This direct line in a compact overhang that resembles a ship’s bow presents a nervous twitch of a challenge that electrifies any climbing pioneer from head to toe. Wolfgang Güllich is delighted. His first sight of the route is an eye-opener. Any kind of climb here seems infeasibly far away. However, Güllich is well aware that the step into a new grade of difficulty must appear infeasible to start with. Motivated by the sweet excitement of the challenging utopia of the line he can envisage breaking the climb down into the doable. Whoever repeats a climb knows that it is possible. The climber who attempts it first knows surprisingly little, swaying between hope and resignation, between doable and impossible, between frustration and optimism. In his head rages a battle between attack and retreat. A mental power problem that determines failure or success and absorbs energy by devious means. In sport, it is often said, more is achieved using your head than using your muscles. Güllich attempts the route. At times he is restless, overmotivated, rocketing vertically up the climb in the grey of the morning. He tries to find an optimum balance between distance and attachment to the route. An equilibrium in the game between nonchalance and activism. It works. In September 1991 Wolfgang Güllich creates a milestone in climbing: Action Directe.


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NIRWANA first ascent

PHOTOs MICHAEL MEI

SL TEXT ALE XANDER

HUBER

XI- I 8c+ I sonnwand, loferer alm, austria

NIRwANA by Alexander Huber


84 I85

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le of Alexander in the midd ut e: ro Nir w an a th e cr ux pitch on his es ome location. aw ol climbing in an “Brilliant rock and corie ty of impres sive feat ures toge ther You won’t find this va the Al ps. The Sonnwand is the shit!” on many rock faces in


pitch is a real The dy no on the 10t h e it your al l, giv n’t do tr eat. If you st ick it. You you’r e not going to ex perienc e to e th s shou ld not mis lead that part.


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Wh at mo re r‌ can a cl imb er as k fore. su po ex g br eath takin ng The co ns tant over ha ur yo s ep ke of the wall adrenaline pu mp ing the whol e time!


And then it’s into the first crux. Switch off the brain and go full throttle.

The crowning finish toho riz on ta l ro of et th e ro ut e. A 4-m re d. If you’ve come no half-assing allower 10th grade pitch this far a little lowe ldn’t put you off. shou

ve The final e: the la st moank Cr . ux cr d on sec e of th one up your finger power t, lle bu e th e bit e, tim last jah ! and let ou t a hallelu

Strength alone won’t get you far on Nirwana. You need to move precisely AND smoothly, plus use some serious finger power...


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adidas outdoor magazine spring/summer 2013