There are routes that take over our imagination for no reason at all: “Des Kaisers Neue Kleider” is an example. I had never seen the line in person, but for some weird reason I wanted to climb it.
Des Kaisers neue Kleider
Fleischbankpfeiler, Wilder Kaiser
Stefan Glowacz (1994)
I had already tried numerous multi-pitch routes before then, but always and only in a one day push, without ever trying a route that due to its complexity, required a committal lasting a number of days. I have always been fascinated by the idea of spending a long period of time on the face, optimizing every tiny detail, trying to forget the exposure and sharing every single instant with another person.
During those years, the wish to change my approach towards climbing had become increasingly unbearable: I wanted to explore and undertake new experiences to understand what my real direction was.
Probably the first step was leaving the world of competitions, a choice which brought me some pain at the beginning, but had lead me to climb almost exclusively on rock and to travel a lot; I thought it was what I was really looking for, but then a state of restlessness kicked in and I wanted to test myself against something even more adventurous. The passion for trad climbing and multi-pitch climbing developed thanks to a trip to Reunion Island; I had already experimented a number of multi pitch routes in the Dolomites before then, but always in one day, without ever having tried a route, which for its complexity required an effort lasting a number of days. On my return to the island, I threw myself headlong onto the project, finding in Babsi (Barbara Zangerl ed) the perfect climbing partner with which to share this original interest.
The variety of difficult multi-pitch routes in the Alps is never ending, but who knows, for what reason, there was a route that I just couldn’t get out of my mind, even if I had never seen it in person; even Babsi was attracted to it, that’s how during the end of August, we finally found ourselves at the base of the imposing and long pillar on which “Des Kaisers Neue Kleider” runs up.
Except for a few, most of the pitches are very difficult and the moves are never trivial, and remembering how to climb the pitch was not easy, but to memorize the moves of the entire route was even more complex, something new though, something that excited me. I loved spending the whole day hanging from the wall, committing fully to finding the best solutions along the various pitches, optimizing each single detail, trying to forget the exposure and sharing each single instant with another person. At night, once back down in the valley, we ate in a meadow and slept in the car: I felt free.
Even if the climbing turned out to be a lot harder than expected, after various days working on the face we were ready to attempt the free ascent of the route in one day.
The first attempt was made by Babsi: everything ran smoothly up to the second last pitch, where she fell a number of times; but in spite of the fatigue, on her seventh attempt, with my shouts of encouragement she managed to reach the chain, and I was ecstatic for her.
After a couple of days we went back for my attempt: according to the weather forecast it would have been my last chance of the season to climb the route. Even if this fact left me concerned, luckily it did not interfere with my performance: supported by Babsi I climbed all the pitches without falling. Just in time for a hug, it then started raining.