Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Herkules 9/9+

In October 1992, as a younger climber, I ventured to Nuremberg for my first experience of World Cup competition. After being crushed at the competition, I was offered the chance to climb for a few days in the Frankenjura before I had to head back to France and rejoin my friends. My memories of those days are indistinct. I remember being smashed by just about everything I got on.One enduring memory was of the route that got away. Sebastian, a friend I'd met in Australia the previous year, took me to a crag called Barenschlutwande. There I tried Herkules. On my onsight try I remember being perched on the lip of the roof, having two small pockets, sitting on my leg and just having to push up to get to easy climbing and the anchors. But I had nothing. And after what seemed like an eternity of squeezing and pushing and going nowhere, I fell and didn't get the ascent. 

19 Years Later....It has a nice Harry Potter-esque ring to it.

September 2011, I can't quite remember why I didn't tick Herkules after being so so close on my first attempt all those years ago. I can't even remember if I tried it again that day. But I do know that it created a very strong memory for me. Perfect steep pocket climbing out an amazing limestone wave. Whenever I thought of the Franken, I thought of Herkules and hoped one day to get back and climb it.
Carlie and I headed to the Franken after coaching the Australian Team at the World Youth Championships in Imst, Austria. With enthusiasm inspired by watching teenagers bouncing up the wall, we climbed at many of the classics crags and on many of the classic routes. About three weeks into out trip there were 5 members of Team Australia left; us, Daniel, Lucy and Joe (who'd  been a later addition to the crew). We had a day in Munich watching Round 2 of the European Youth Boulder Series while the rain pounded down and next day we were a bit surprised to see sun. We decided to go to Barenschlutwande because it looked like it would dry quickly. So, it was time for me to settle an old score.
I felt good after 3 days of rest waiting out the rain. My arms had been giving me some grief, battling the tendosis that had plagued me in the 12 months leading up to the trip.
After some classic warm-ups, I got on Herkules. I felt quite nervous, I really wanted to do it and I'd been building it up in my head for the past 19 years. I felt the pressure I put on myself from having done well onsight back then. Surely I'd learned a trick or two in the ensuing years and I'd fire through effortlessly on my first attempt. Unfortunately, we never quite climb as good in reality as we do in fantasy.
First go I fell off the big jump move. I was a bit hesitant and didn't go for it. It was that old problem of having some prior knowledge and then coming across something I didn't expect. I pulled on, did the jump and hiked to the top. While it would have been sweet for the fantasy to come true, it was good to get this first go over and be able to relax and enjoy the route.
Second go I did the jump but then forgot my sequence after that and got mixed up. I was a bit frustrated and cranky with myself for letting my nerves get the better of me.
Third go I nailed every section and it felt all so easy and beautiful. The right way to do a really special route. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Starting a mo in September is cheating, pretty sure.
    Climbing 9+, that's legit. jj