Dolomites climbing: Hansjörg Auer frees Silberschrei on Sass de la Crusc and on-sights La Cattedrale in Marmolada together with Much Mayr
An intense couple of months for Hansjörg Auer: together with Thomas Schreiber he recently carried out the first ascent of Silberschrei on Sass de la Crusc in the Dolomites, before a lightening fast trip to England with Much Mayr which resulted in a fast ascent of Gaia. The two then on-sighted La Cattedrale on the Marmolada in the Dolomites.
At the start of July the Austrians Hansjörg Auer and Thomas Schreiber carried out the first free ascent of "Silberschrei", a new route on the immense Sass de la Crusc in Italy's Dolomites. The two Tyroleans had forged the line in autumn 2005 but had to wait for this summer to free their "silver scream".
Silberschrei starts 20m to the right of Diedro Mayrl and takes an independent line immediately tp the left of Perla Preziosa, the route first climbed by Nicola Tondini, Nicola Sartori and Michele Zandegiacomo in 2006. After a first easy pitch the crux kicks in at 7c, after which another two pitches of 6c and 6b respectively lead to the ledge roughly at half-height. The final 20m up to the ledge are shared with the more recent Perla Preziosa and both share the same belay on the ledge. From the ledge Silbershrei breaks off left compared to Perla and after another 7c crux pitch the two run parallel to the summit, on better rock compared to the pitches below. The entire line up this "legendary mountain face" is protected by a mix of pegs and trad gear and according to Auer the climbing is "demanding, at times up slightly friable rock, but definitely worth repeating."
The confirmation that Auer is on form comes from a lightening fast visit to England together with Much Mayr where, after only one brief toprope practice, they both repeated the classic psychological testpiece Gaie E8 6c and Black Rocks. A few days later Mayr, one of the strongest and least famous Austrian climbers, also managed to flash the extremely delicate "Balance it is" E7 6c at Burbage. Which translates into great talent, great physical form and above all nerves of steel.
Whilst on the subject of nerves of steel: after the free solo of Tempi Moderni in 2006 and the Via del Pesce in 2007, he relationship that Auer has with the south Face of the Marmolada is practically unique and the attraction with the Queen of the Dolomites is stronger than ever. In fact, just a few days ago Auer and Mayr roped up together to repeat what is quickly becoming a great classic high-end testpiece: the Via della Cattedrale. As can be easily be gleamed from Florian Riegler's second redpoint report we published recently, these 850m had been first ascended by Graziano Maffei, Mariano Frizzera and Paolo Leoni in 1983 and 1985, then freed by Pietro dal Prà in 2004. On 23/07/2009 Auer and Mayr carried out a noteworthy ascent: setting off at 7.00 in the morning they reached the ledge at 14.30 and summited around 17.30. "We slowed down towards the end, there was so much wind it seemed as if we were in Patagonia! With regards to the time it took us, when two able alpinists climb together, things can go very quickly indeed!" But it's not so much the time that does justice to their ascent and, as usual, it's in the details that one can understand the importance of the ascent: the two swung leads and on-sighted the entire route! They climbed one 7c pitch each, while the crux roof was on-sighted by Mayr, who then lowered back to the belay to give Auer the opportunity to climb from below. From the top of the route the two then abbed back down the line of ascent. Auer sums up the climb as follows "the route is superb, it takes an incredible line and is protected fairly well on perfect Marmolada limestone. We suggest a slight change in grade from 8a+ to 8a. However things may be, we have the greatest respect for Pietro and above all Feo Maffei. Hurrah!"