Difficult boulder problems in Ticino by Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven
At Chironico in Switzerland Katharina Saurwein flashed her first 8A boulder problem. Jorg Verhoeven made the first ascent of the problem Flash Flood 8B at Brione while at Cresciano he flashed the famous problem La Proue 8B.
Two weeks in Switzerland's Canton Ticino, at Chironico, Cresciano and Brione for Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein resulted in a flurry of hard ascents, of which three in particular are worth highlighting. The first is the first ascent of Flash Flood on behalf of the Dutchman who told Planetmountain "The new problem I've put up is on the fairly popular wall which hosts the problems Frogger, Ganymede Takeover and Fake Pamplemousse; it's located on the far right, the sitstart to some 7B I believe. It climbs past some far and quite reachy moves on some very small, incut crimps, with the crux involving a wrist-breaking undercling." Verhoeven freed the problem after two sessions and commented "Sadly this problem will be flooded very often, I've rarely seen the sand level so low. The nice thing is though that, unlike the other problems that start halfway or end at a jug, this one actually starts with a proper jug at the base of the wall, and tops out." Simple, no? There's certainly nothing simple about the second ascent worth mentioning, namely Verhoeven's first-go, flash ascent of La Proue. This classic 8B at Cresciano had been put up by Fred Nicole in 1998 and in all likelihood Verhoeven's is the first-ever flash ascent.
The third ascent worth analysing is another flash ascent, this time carried out by Verhoeven's parter, Austrian climber Katharina Saurwein who succeeded straight-off on Tricky, an 8A problem at Chironico. It's worth underlining that only a handful of women (and in truth not many men) have ever managed to flash 8A boulder problems.
TRICKY by Katharina Saurwein
I was really excited about flashing Tricky. It's my hardest flash so far, in the past I succeeded in flashing a 7c+, Nevio in Silvretta and I also got agonizingly close on flashing Pretty Belinda 8a, a long traversing boulder problem where I slipped off the easy top mantle because of a wet hold. In Ticino I also sent Franks wild years, my 5th 8A+.
About Tricky: It's an amazing problem, super fun and, as the name suggests, fairly tricky. You have to climb feet-first out of a roof, to make it work you need to kick both toehooks quite far to the edge and your hooks have to stay put! I couldn't believe that I'd flashed it, because before setting off I actually had doubts whether this problem was feasible in the first place. I'm 1.60 high and many problems tend to get really hard or impossible. In the past this got me quite frustrated, but now I've kind of accepted it and a lot of problems feel way different than the official grade, some 7c's I'd give 8A and vice versa of course.
I've been training for the World Cup season that will start in a few weeks time and I really feel that longer periods of bouldering outside can be very positive for competition climbing, too. In spite of some bad weather (5 days of snow) this two-week trip to Ticino was super nice, we teamed up with a lot of other climbers and had a fun time. Now though it's back to the gym and university...