Barbara Zangerl climbs Pura Vida at Magic Wood
At the start of May Barbara Zangerl sent Pura Vida, the boulder problem located in Switzerland's Magic Wood graded Fb8a+/8b.
With this ascent the Austrian not only touched upon her personal limit, she also explored the current maximum of female bouldering which, in the past, has hovered around the Fb8a+ mark.
At just 19 years of age Barbara is the nth example of the terrible, nigh fearsome Austrian new school which enjoys upping the climbing ante in all its forms. Here's an unusual insight therefore into the world of female bouldering from an Austrian point of view which, as it happens, is very, very strong indeed.
Congratulations Barbara for Pura Vida. Can you tell us how you got to climb this problem?
The first time I saw Pura Vida... Magic Wood was completely empty... everything was still waiting to be discovered, covered in moss... but over time the boulders were cleaned... and a truly magical area with countless cool problems came to life. One of these was this one, Pura Vida. When Bernd (Zangerl, not to be confused with Barbara, editor's note) freed the problem I was amazed by the beauty of the moves and I was fascinated above all by the small granite pocket. At the time I couldn't even imagine that one day I'd be able to hold that hold. I tried the moves three years later... and since then I simply couldn't keep my fingers off it...
An impossible question: how hard is this Fb8a+/8b problem?
I was completely at my personal limit. I always had trouble with the aggressive shoulder-push, it was really long and I couldn't try it more than 5 times in a row, after which my shoulder really ached. In the beginning the moves were simply impossible... I had no idea how to reach the small granite pocket. Over time though I managed to hold the holds better, and in the end I locked the intermediate to reach the pocket direct. I'd found the solution... I began to put it into practice, and I was overjoyed. This problem has been my climbing highlight and without a doubt my hardest boulder to date.
What's more important, a good flash ascent or a hard workout?
If I manage a cool flash then that's obviously a super sensation. But I've got to try a long time to climb a really hard problem, so I'm all the happier when one day I find I'm stronger and capable of linking all the moves.
Are you a boulderer 100% or do you also exchange crashpads for rope and harness every once in a while?
I really enjoy climbing at the crags and in fact here in the Tyrol we've got more cool crags than cool bouldering areas. Nevertheless I boulder more than I sport climb, Perhaps I'm simply addicted to bouldering at the moment. But in the future yes, I'd like to try some hard routes.
And what about competitions?
Competitions are interesting... I can learn lots from them, for example how to resolve a problem quickly or how to channel all my strength at the right time. But at the moment I'd find it hard to spend all the time I climb outdoors training on plastic.
A few weeks ago you took part in the Melloblocco, which you won for the third year running. What does the Mello represent?
A fantastic bouldering area... each year we're surprised by beautiful new problems. I always enjoy taking part. I meet really interesting people and the party is usually great. For me the Melloblocco means having fun.
Innsbruck is currently home to some of the strongest climbers in the world such as Eiter, Fischhuber, Lama, Verhoeven etc. What makes this city so special?
Obviously... Fischhuber ;-) Jokes apart, you can train really well at the Tivoli gym and this is confirmed by the competition results. There's a great atmosphere in Innsbruck, you always find someone to climb with and do something. But perhaps this is true in other places as well? It's because of this that I'm not really sure what our secret is. One thing is certain, we have fun!