Anna Stöhr: a Dream Day Climbing at Magic Wood
Austrian climber Anna Stöhr has sent two extremely difficult boulder problems on the same day, New Base Line 8B+ and Steppenwolf 8B at Magic Wood, Switzerland.
When Anna Stöhr stuck that final crimp she scurried to the top and stood there, in utter disbelief, gazing deep into the forest. Not any only forest, but Magic Wood in Switzerland. Within this hallowed ground for bouldering she’d achieved the unthinkable: earlier that day she’d climbed Steppenwolf, a tough little 8B, while just now she’d topped out on one of the most enigmatic problems in wood, the 8B+ New Base Line established in 2002 by fellow countryman Bernd Zangerl.
Climbing an 8B and an 8B+ on the same day is, by all accounts, pretty hard to comprehend, even for Stöhr whose standards are, well, stellar. Stöhr boasts a competition track record which is second to none: double World Champion (Arco 2011 and 2007), European Champion in 2010 and four-times winner of the Bouldering World Cup (2013, 2012, 2011, 2008), she has dominated the competition scene like no other during the last decade. Unsurprisingly, her sporadic raids onto rock have always productive. But this was something truly special, echoed in her words a week later "I am still overjoyed and I cannot stop smiling."
The trip up into Averstal came about pretty much by chance. When she was a teenager the drive from Innsbruck into this valley littered with pristine granite blocs used to be a regular weekend getaway, but in recent years she had turned her attention elsewhere. Now though, after months training in dusty gyms for the World Cup season, she needed a breath of fresh air and together with her friend Alfons Dornauer she decided to head back to where, in 2010, she climbed her first 8B boulder problem, Riverbed.
On Saturday morning the duo laid their hands on the high-end classic NBL and, after working out all the moves bar one, they then moved on to try Steppenwolf before darkness set in. After a late start they first headed across to Steppenwolf - NBL remains in the sun longer - and Stöhr deciphered some perfect beta before giving it a serious attempt. "This is when I entered my zone, where everything falls into place like in a dream: I climbed fast and with precision. Everything just came together and I found myself on top of the beautiful Steppenwolf."
With the day still young the duo returned to New Base Line. Dornauer failed on his attempt, Stöhr decided to rehearse and learn the moves for her next visit. "Trying to climb the entire boulder did not even enter my mind." she explained, but all of a sudden she "stuck the crux move that just minutes before had seemed out of reach. I had now done all the moves! At first, I couldn’t quiet believe it, but then my wheel started turning…"
Stöhr, the natural born climber, instinctively new that the right moment had come and on her next attempt she stuck the starting move and entered her "zone". It’s one of those places that climbing opens the doors to very rarely indeed. Better still, as Stöhr explains, it’s "The place you can't reach with sheer will, but you still occasionally find yourself there." The send, swift and efficient, felt effortless, as those who watched Stöhr can confirm.
Steppenwolf and New Base Line on the same day. "When I was a teenager" Stöhr wrote "standing under these blocs in Magic Wood I would not have dreamed about climbing these two gems in one day. As I am writing this, I am still overjoyed and I cannot stop smiling." Let’s hope those wheels keep on turning.