Adam Ondra, new 9a at Labak in the Czech Republic
Adam Ondra has freed the route To tu jeste nebyl 9a, bolted ground-up together with Ondra Benes at Labak in the Czech Republic. Adam Ondra reports.
I established "To tu jeste nebylo" together with Ondra Benes ground-up last autumn and I managed the first redpoint a few days ago. The name could be translated as "Never been here before" as this is a breakthrough in terms of difficulty on Czech sandstone. In addition, the name also reflects the fact that the route differs considerably from most other hard lines on Czech sandstone which tend to be vertical and bouldery, whereas this route is overhanging and hard all the way.
As many know, the climbing on Czech sandstone is linked closely to past traditions, and establishing a new route from abseil is still completely out of bounds. As a result routes tend to be scary, and apart from the few ring bolts that are generally very far apart, the climbing is protected only by knots tied in slings. Metal gear such as cams are forbidden due to the soft structure of the rock.
Having said that, some areas are more "traditional" than others. This route in fact is located at Labak (or Labske udoli), an area close to German boarder on the banks of the river Elbe. Out of all the crags on Czech sandstone, this area most resembles sport climbing: modern routes are fairly well protected, with bolts much closer than in the other areas, especially at the crux sections. To give you an idea, I would compare the number of bolts and run-outs to sport climbs in Switzerland's Rätikon.
These safer routes and the tolerance to using chalk might make some people believe they are at a sport crag where bolting by abseil is allowed, but this is not the case.
In fact, "To tu jeste nebylo" was first bolted by abseil about five years ago by a German climber who ignored the sandstone ethics. In addition, two holds were chipped. The local climbing committee decided to chop the bolts as a result and, last spring, Ondra Benes started to equip the route ground-up. After a huge effort he managed to place three bolts, but he got stuck in the terrain above. Last autumn I managed to place the fourth bolt after many falls and climbed the run-out to the top of the cliff.
The route is graded XIIb on the sandstone grading scale, what could be converted into French 9a. I managed the first repoint two Sundays ago.
To tu jeste nebyl
19/12/2005 - Cristian Brenna autumn update: Czech Sandstone and Sardinia