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Competition

Yep: There was a 600-foot Multipitch Race up a Swiss Dam

Slovenian athletes Domen Škofic and Jernej Kruder took an early lead in the race. Then the unexpected happened.

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Nearly 600 feet, six pitches, and two identical routes. With that, eight teams of two—each composed of some of the world’s best climbers—went head-to-head in a first of its kind multipitch competition, the Red Bull Dual Ascent.

The athlete roster was formidable, including the likes of Shawn Raboutou (USA), Mélissa Le Nevé (FRA), Matty Hong (USA), Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA), Petra Klingler (SUI), and more. In the end, it was Olympic gold medallist Alberto Ginés López (ESP) and current overall lead World Cup winner Luka Potočar (SLO) who took home the grand prize.

Competitors scaled the Diga di Luzzone, a dam in the Ticino district in Switzerland. The Swiss did it right: There was no approach, the climbing was well protected, and there was even a restaurant at the base. Not to mention the fact that the surrounding Verzasca Valley hosts world-class bouldering. 

Venue of the Red Bull Dual Ascent in Verzasca, Switzerland.
Venue of the Red Bull Dual Ascent in Verzasca, Switzerland. (Photo: Pedro Lemos/Red Bull Content Pool )

The competition took place across three days from October 26 to 29, with a rest day occurring on the 28. The first two days were devoted to time-based qualification rounds, and the top four fastest teams advanced to a head-to-head format on the finals day. 

The pitch difficulty on the qualification routes ranged from 5.11b to 5.13a. For finals, the final pitch was 5.13b. Teams could not rehearse the route prior to the competition, but they were allowed a route demonstration. Both teammates needed to redpoint the pitch, whether on lead or following, and to stay within a defined time window. If a climber fell, they could choose to restart the same pitch or accept a penalty point to continue onwards. The teams were judged by redpoint sends, followed by penalty points and then total climbing time. 

Ginés López and Potočar raced against Slovenian climbing champion Domen Škofic and former bouldering World Champion Jernej Kruder (SLO) in the final race. Škofic and Kruder took an early lead.

“With Domen and Jernej being faster than us, we expected to end up second,” says Ginés López. “Luka and I were saying to each other mid-wall, ‘we cannot go faster than we can and if we end up second, that is a great result too.’”

But then the unexpected happened: Kruder fell on the last pitch. The delay allowed Ginés López and Potočar to catch up. 

“Before the last pitch, we thought there was no way we could win,” says Potočar. “We were exhausted. I was screaming in the middle of my route because I was reaching my limit. But when I was pulling the rope up, I heard Jernej took a fall and realized there was a possibility to still win. At the end, Alberto was super fast and we did it!” 

Jernej Kruder unfortunately took a fall just before reaching the top, costing him and his teammate the victory. (Photo: Matteo Mocellin/Red Bull Content Pool)

Škofic and Kruder, while disappointed, were gracious in their defeat. “The most important thing is that we had lots of fun,” says Kruder.

In the small final, Ghisolfi and Marcello Bombardi (ITA) raced against Klingler and Louna Ladevant (FRA). The race was tight—Ghisolfi and Bombardi took third with just a four-minute lead.

Qualification Results:

  1. Domen Škofic (SLO) and Jernej Kruder (SLO) 58:42 
  2. Alberto Ginés López (ESP) and Luka Potočar (SLO) 59:18 
  3. Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA) and Marcello Bombardi (ITA) 1:10:50 
  4. Petra Klingler (SUI) and Louna Ladevant (FRA) 1:21:08 
  5. Jacopo Larcher (ITA) and Nils Favre (SUI) 1:20:38 + 1 penalty point 
  6. Mélissa Le Nevé (FRA) and Katherine Choong (SUI) 2:23:25 + 2 penalty points 
  7. Sasha DiGiulian (USA) and Angie Scarth-Johnson (AUS) 2:50:26 + 10 penalty points
  8. Shawn Raboutou (USA) and Matty Hong (USA) – DNF 

Final Results:

  1. Alberto Ginés López (ESP) and Luka Potočar (SLO) 51:27 
  2. Domen Škofic (SLO) and Jernej Kruder (SLO) 53:41 + 2 penalty points 
  3. Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA) and Marcello Bombardi (ITA) 54:05 
  4. Petra Klingler (SUI) and Louna Ladevant (FRA) 58:07 + 1 penalty point 

Alberto Ginés López takes a celebratory sip of champagne from his shoe.
Alberto Ginés López takes a celebratory sip of champagne from his shoe. (Photo: Matteo Mocellin/Red Bull Content Pool)
Louna Ladevant, Petra Klingler, Stefano Ghisolfi, and Marcello Bombardi make their way up in the race for third.
Louna Ladevant, Petra Klingler, Stefano Ghisolfi, and Marcello Bombardi race for third. (Photo: Will Saunders/Red Bull Content Pool)
Mélissa Le Nevé and Katherine Choong make their way up during the qualification round.
Mélissa Le Nevé and Katherine Choong make their way up during the qualification round. (Photo: Stefan Voitl/Red Bull Content Pool)
Domen Skofic goes big during the qualification round. (Photo: Will Saunders/Red Bull Content Pool)
Petra Klingler digging deep. She was the only female during finals. (Photo: Matteo Mocellin/Red Bull Content Pool)
Sasha DiGiulian and Angie Scarth Johnson scope out the route during qualifiers.
Sasha DiGiulian and Angie Scarth Johnson scope out the route during qualifiers. (Photo: Stefan Voitl/Red Bull Content Pool )
Stefano Ghisolfi nears the top during qualifiers.
Stefano Ghisolfi zeros in on the top. (Photo: Matteo Mocellin/Red Bull Content Pool)

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