Babsi Zangerl and Melissa Le Nevé Return to Rock With 5.14 Ascents

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European countries are beginning to gradually lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions on non-essential travel as the number of new COVID-19 infections falls. This means that climbers across Europe are getting back to outdoor climbing. After two months of training at home, Barbara "Babsi" Zangerl and Melissa Le Nevé have both made quick ascents of some of their hardest sport routes to date.

“Since the lock-down has been lifted in Austria I appreciate rock climbing even more than before," Zangerl wrote on Instagram. Zangerl and partner Jacopo Larcher had planned to be in Yosemite at this time. The pair have been dispatching hard big wall free routes over the last few years, having ticked El Niño, Zodiac, Magic Mushroom, Pre-Muir and the Nose. Instead, she's now focusing on sport climbs close to home. Since restrictions have eased in Austria, Zangerl has redpointed two of her most difficult bolted routes to date, starting with Unleashed (5.14c) in Vorarlberg. She spent nine days working the route ground-up.

Unleashed was one of two projects I got really psyched on over the last couple of weeks,” Zangerl wrote. “One year ago I had a hard time on it. There is a quite long runout at the crux and it is hard to get over this sequence if you have no clue how it works… Happy to complete this line, finally!”

She then moved on to Instructor, a 45-meter 5.14c/d that Larcher made the first ascent of last year. Zangerl attempted the route 17 times across seven days. “This is a line I am very proud of,” She wrote. “I am not really good in steep climbing but, investing some hard work/obsession really paid off. Thanks for the inspiration Jacopino!”

Le Nevé has been exploring crags and seeking out the hardest lines in German Bavaria, where she has spent the pandemic. After a few days of effort, she sent Bionic Commando (5.14c) at Jesuswand in Bavaria. It is Le Nevé's third route of the grade. She described the line as a “power endurance testpiece.”