There are people who seem to be able to override the law of gravity. Alex Megos is one of them. The 25-year-old German from the city of Erlangen is one of the best sports climbers in the world. At the age of 19, he was the first in the world to master onsight a route in the Spanish climbing area of Siurana in French grade 9a, which corresponds to eleventh grade according to the classic UIAA difficulty scale. For comparison: Reinhold Messner climbed the seventh degree in his best days. Onsight means that Alex simply climbed straight on without having got any information about the route beforehand. This coup opened the door to professional climbing for him. This spring, Megos added another highlight: He managed the first ascent of the route “Perfecto Mundo” in the climbing area Margalef in the northeast of Spain (see video below showing one of his failed attempts), his first 9b+ (according to UIAA scale a climb in the lower twelfth degree). A single route worldwide is currently considered even more difficult.
I met Alex Megos during the 10th International Mountain Summit (IMS) in Brixen, South Tyrol, where the big names of the mountain scene have been passing the mike to each other for years.
Alex, you are one of only three climbers in the world who have climbed a route with difficulty level 9b+. So you’re right at the front of the pack. How does that feel?
Date12. October 2018 | 7:29
Tags9b+, Adam Andra, Alex Megos, Brixen, Chris Sharma, International Mountain Summit, Olympics 2020 Tokio, Perfecto Mundo, Sport climbing, Stefano Ghisolfi
“The climb will go. Get rid of the rope. It’s only distracting you,” Jeff Lowe once said. He was an uncompromising climber. Lowe loved to be alone or in small teams on extreme routes. The American succeeded more than 1,000 first ascents in his climbing career. Jeff was born in 1950 in Ogden, Utah, as the fourth of eight children. When he was four years old, his father took him skiing and two years later climbing. The family was enthusiastic about mountain sports. Aged 14, Jeff climbed his first new route: on Mount Ogden, doing it solo. He was often en route with his brothers Greg and Mike and his cousin George Henry Lowe.
Date25. August 2018 | 20:36
At the latest since today, Alex Honnold knows what is the opposite of free solo: The “Press Walk” of the International Mountain Summit. The 32-year-old can neither move freely nor is he alone. On the Plose, the home mountain of Bressanone in South Tyrol, about sixty reporters, camera men and photographers are bustling around the American top climber. “Crazy,” says the 32-year-old with a smile in his face. Since 3 June, his name resounds not only throughout insiders of the climbing scene but worldwide. On that day he pushed into a new dimension. Alex succeeded the first free solo – means climbing alone and without any rope – through the legendary 900-meter-high granite wall of El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley. He climbed via the route “Freerider”, which had been opened by Alexander Huber in 1995 and had been free climbed for the first time by Alexander and his brother Thomas in 1998. For comparison, the ascent with ropes for belaying had taken the Huber brothers more than 15 hours.
Alex Honnold does not correspond to the stereotype of an extreme climber. He wears his hair short, does not drink alcohol, does not smoke and is a vegetarian. For many years he has been living as a modern nomad, quite modest in a mobile home which he uses to drive from rock wall to rock wall. For five years, he has been supporting with his foundation environmental projects around the world. Despite his coup on the El Capitan, he does not show any airs and graces.
Already during the ascent to the mountain restaurant Rossalm, where the organizers of the IMS have scheduled a press conference with Honnold, I manage to ask Alex some questions – according to the motto “walk and talk”. 😉
Alexander and Thomas Huber as well as Tommy Caldwell compared your free solo on El Capitan with the first moon landing. How did you personally feel after having completed your project?
Date14. October 2017 | 18:07
TagsAlex Honnold, Alexaner Huber, Bressanone, El Capitan, Fitz Traverse, Free Solo, Freerider, Huber brothers, IMS 2017, International Mountain Summit, Piolet d'Or, Plose, Rossalm, Thomas Huber
What a tragic end of one of the best climbers in the world. The American Hayden Kennedy took his own life at the age of 27 years. On Saturday, Hayden and his partner in life Inge Perkins, like Kennedy an experienced climber and skier, had been on a ski tour on Imp Peak in the US state of Montana. They were caught by an avalanche. Perkins was fully buried by the snow masses, rescuers recovered the 23-year-old dead. Kennedy, who was partially buried, survived. On Sunday he committed suicide.
Date11. October 2017 | 10:29
TagsCerro Torre, Hayden Kennedy, Imp Peak, Inge Perkins, Lawine, Michael Kennedy, Ogre, Piolet d'Or, Suicide
Donald Trump stands between her and El Capitan. Nasim Eshqi would also like to climb the legendary granite walls in the Yosemite National Park, but the US president has imposed, as is known, an entry ban for Iranians. The 35-year-old from Tehran takes it with humor. “I mean, he is unlucky if I am not there,“ Nasim says, laughing. The female climber does not correspond to the Western cliché of an Iranian woman at all: off-the-shoulder shirt, sunglasses, no headscarf. And she says what she thinks. “The traditional culture in Iran doesn’t accept me or other girls who are the same style like me as real women they want to marry or stay with,” says Nasim. “But it was okay for me from the beginning. I have friends from all over the world who are supporting me mentally.”
Date27. June 2017 | 15:59
Actually, it is recommended to use superlatives only with caution. But it’s undisputed that Chris Sharma has been one of the best rock climbers in the world for many years. The 35-year-old American and the 24-year-old Czech Adam Ondra have so far been the only climbers who have mastered a 9b+ route (on the French grading system) – partly extremely overhanging, actually impossible to climb. Currently the measure of all things. Chris is living with his wife Jimena Alarcon and the little daughter Alana in Barcelona.
Chris, you have been climbing at the highest level for so many years.. Do you think that you one day get tired of doing it?
Date31. March 2017 | 16:14
One of the great pioneers in rock climbing has gone: Royal Robbins died yesterday in Modesto, California after a long illness at the age of 82 years. “My father faced challenges in his climbing, his writing, his business, his role as a father and husband, and later in life in his debilitating illness,” said his daughter Tamara Robbins. “Through it all, he rose to the occasion, taking the challenges on with grace and humility. For that, he’s my hero.” In the late 1950s and 1960s, Robbins had set standards in bigwall climbing.
Date15. March 2017 | 13:24
The Austrian extreme climber Thomas Bubendorfer had a ten-meter-fall during ice climbing in the Italian Dolomites and was very seriously injured. According to Italian media reports, the condition of the 54-year-old has improved slightly, but is still critical. The accident happened on Wednesday. Bubendorfer was climbing with a partner on a frozen waterfall in the gorge Serrai di Sottoguda on the Marmolada, a popular ice climbing area. For unknown reasons, he fell and landed in a creek bed.
Date3. March 2017 | 14:28
Thomas Huber radiates pure joie de vivre. “I’m doing well, more than in a long time,” says the 50-year-old German top climber, as we meet at the ISPO sporting goods trade fair in Munich. On 30 December, the older of the two Huber brothers had provided another highlight of his career: Along with the Swiss climbers Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli, Thomas succeeded the second ascent of the legendary route “Metanoia” in the centre of the Eiger North Face: “How can a year end better? I have just taken this flow with me,” enthuses Huber.
Date9. February 2017 | 16:59
TagsEiger North Face, Jeff Lowe, Latok I, Metanoia, Pakistan, Roger Schaeli, Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Huber
Mountaineers and climbers travel. Frequently and as self-evident. Finally mountains do not come to them. This is precisely why it should be self-evident that people involved in mountain sports should raise their voices when the freedom of travel is restricted or even abolished – as now by US President Donald Trump for people from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. So far, the great outcry of the climbing scene has stayed away. Is it perhaps because in these countries – with the exception of Iran – the number of mountaineers and climbers is limited? Or because those countries are (still) not among the favorite destinations of the mountain friends? After all, German top climber Stefan Glowacz didn’t mince his words.
Date1. February 2017 | 16:05
What a hotshot! The 23-year-old Czech Adam Ondra succeeded his free climb through the mostly vertical, partly overhanging “Dawn Wall” in the granite of El Capitan within only eight days. It was the only second free ascent of the rock route, which is regarded as the most difficult in the world. At the beginning of 2015, the Americans Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson had “freed” the “Dawn Wall” after 19 days in the approximately 900-meter-high wall, a milestone of climbing history. They had been preparing for it for more than seven years. Ondra spent just two and a half weeks on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Kevin Jorgeson finds the success of the young Czech “totally badass”, as he wrote to the magazine “Rock and Ice”: “For Tommy and I, the question was whether it was even possible. We left lots of room to improve the style and Adam did just that! Super impressive that he was able to adapt to the Dawn Wall’s unique style and sort out so many complex sequences so quickly.” The German climbing scene is also thrilled.
Date23. November 2016 | 17:41
TagsAdam Ondra, Alexander Huber, Dawn Wall, El Capitan, Heinz Zak, Kevin Jorgeson, Pavel Blazek, Stefan Glowacz, Thomas Huber, Tommy Caldwell, Yosemite
The Olympic flag is already there, the climbers will come in four years. Today Governor Yuriko Koiki presented at Haneda airport in Tokyo the flag with the Olympic rings which the Mayor of Rio had handed over to her at the closing ceremony of the Olympics in Brazil. In 2020 in Tokyo, sport climbers will officially compete for medals for the first time (one week before the Winter Games in Albertville in 1992, there was already a demonstration event won by German climber Stefan Glowacz). “Of course, as a competition climber I welcome this development in principle,” says Sebastian Halenke regarding the Olympic premiere. “Until now, climbing as a competitive sport is barely represented in the media and even within the climbing scene there are rather spartan reports on the competitions.” The 21-year-old climber from the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, whose trademark is his red mohawk haircut, belongs to the World Cup’s top ten in the discipline Lead. In these competitions the participants have to climb a long, difficult route after only a brief glance at it as far as possible within a time limit and without falling.
Date24. August 2016 | 15:56
TagsClimbing World Championschip Paris, Lead, Olympics, Sebastian Halenke, Sport climbing, Tokio 2020
I haven’t yet Olympic rings under my eyes. But that will surely change in the next two weeks because of the time difference between Rio de Janeiro and here. But when the next summer games are pending in four years in Tokyo, again in a different time zone, there will be an additional reason to change the daily habits: Sport climbing becomes Olympic in 2020. This was decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “I think, it’s absolutely cool,” tells me German top climber Thomas Huber. “We have to be open to it. Sport climbing is worthy of being included in the Olympic program, because the competition has developed positively.” The IOC decision could send a signal to young people.
Date5. August 2016 | 16:45
Approximately 1.8 seconds. That was the time it took when Thomas Huber fell 16 meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg in the Berchtesgaden region in Bavaria – now two weeks ago. As previously reported, the 49-year-old German top climber, the older of the two Huber brothers, landed on soft forest floor. As it turned out later, Thomas suffered a skull fracture and had to undergo surgery immediately. The doctor’s reassuring prognosis afterwards: no permanent damage. Meanwhile, Thomas has left the hospital and is recovering at home. I have phoned him.
Thomas, first things first: How are you?
Date19. July 2016 | 23:24
TagsBrendlberg, Climbing, Fall, Huber brothers, Interview, Latok I, Scull fracture, Thomas Huber, Watzmannflimmern
“I already feel a lot better again,” Thomas Huber writes to me from the hospital in the Bavarian town of Traunstein. If that’s not good news! After all, the 49-year-old German top climber – as reported yesterday – had fallen twelve meters deep from a rock face on the Brendlberg near the village of Scheffau. According to the German website bgland24.de, the accident happened when Huber was abseiling. Thomas was standing on a small ledge, unclipped from the belay to take another rope, when he lost his balance. This could have ended in catastrophe. Probably owing only to “1000 guardian angels” (Thomas) and his instinct, nothing worse happened to him.
Date9. July 2016 | 17:19