Barbara Zangerl Completes Alpine Trilogy


Barbara Zangerl trad climbing in Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Adidas.

9/9/13 - Barbara Zangerl of Austria has done the first female ascent of Des Kaisers neue Kleider (8b+, 240m), a nine-pitch 5.14a in the Wilder Kaiser mountains of her home country. This makes her the first woman to complete the so-called Alpine Trilogy, a trio of long 5.14 routes in the Alps, each put up in 1994.

Zangerl told Planet Mountain that she worked on Des Kaisers neue Kleider for about 15 days this summer before partnering up with Jacopo Larcher for the redpoint. She led the first seven pitches with no problems, including pitches of 5.13d, 5.14a, and 5.13b. But on the final crux, another 5.14a pitch, Zangerl fell six times before she pulled through for the send on her seventh try.

Des Kaisers neue Kleider was put up by Germany's Stefan Glowacz. The other two routes in the "trilogy" are Silbergeier (8b+, 6 pitches) in Switzerland's Rätikon, established by Beat Kammerlander, and End of Silence (8b+, 11 pitches) in Germany, put up by Thomas Huber. Zangerl repeated Silbergeier in July (second female ascent, after Nina Caprez) and End of Silence last summer (first female ascent).

Though mostly bolt-protected, all three routes are known for substantial run-outs as well as sustained difficulties. And though there are many other long, extremely difficult "sport climbing" routes in the Alps, these three have retained their luster because of their beauty, respect for the climbers who put them up, and the way they pointed to the future of hard rock climbing in the high mountains. Very few climbers have repeated all three, including Glowacz and the late Austrian Harald Berger.

Though not as well known in the U.S. some of Europe's top conmpetition climbers, Zangerl, 25, was one of the world's best boulderers until she injured her back and had to switch to route climbing to avoid more damage from falling or jumping off high boulders. She did her first V11/V12 after only four years of climbing, in 2005, and in 2008 she did the first female ascent of Pura Vida (V12/V13) at Magic Wood in Switzerland. She also won the Melloblocco outdoor bouldering competition in Italy four times. Now she seems to thrive on long, hard routes, both sport and trad. Watch this video to see her in action on Super Crill (5.13b), a nine-pitch crack line in Switzerland.

Date of ascent: September 5, 2013

Sources: Planet Mountain, Adidas, UKClimbing