David Lama solo first ascent of Hohe Kirche Nord Pfeiler in Valsertal
On 24/03/2018 Austrian alpinist David Lama made the solo first ascent of Nord Pfeiler, a new mixed climb up the North Face of Hohe Kirche in Valsertal, Austria.
David Lama climbing in the Valsertal once again. Just a few weeks after completing the first ascent of Sagzahn - Verschneidung up Sagwand with Peter Mühlburger, the 27-year-old Austrian alpinist has returned to one of his favourite winter mountaineering areas to add a new line up nearby Hohe Kirche.
In December 2013 Lama had made the first ascent, solo, of Nordverschneidung up the mountain’s North Face and this time he opted for a line further to the left up the obvious North Pillar he had attempted circa 4 years ago with Ben Lepesant. At the time the two had been forced to turn back about 3 pitches below the final snowfield and yesterday, knowing that despite the end of calendar winter the valley was still very much gripped in winter conditions, he returned to complete unfinished business.
After having set off from he car park at 5.30 am and skinned up to the mountain, he then put on his crampons and started the climb. "The first section was relatively easy and I made swift progress as I climbed the first 3 or 4 pitches without a rope" Lama told planetmountain.com "Things then got significantly more difficult and I continued with a rope, using a mix of free climbing and aid climbing. On the last two pitches the rock was absolutely terrible and I somehow had to negotiate my way past huge loose boulders."
The circa 400 meter Nord Pfeiler is graded M4 A1, and Lama suggests it could go free around M6. "In truth though I wouldn’t recommend this route to anyone. While I really enjoyed the climbing in the beginning, so much so that I left some pegs insitu as I thought they might be welcomed by those who repeat the line, the rock then got really chossy towards the exit. I realised that perhaps it wouldn’t be a good thing if this route gets lots of repeats."
Nord Pfeiler tackles "the easiest line through the steepest section of the wall" and is described as "an extremely logical winter climb". During the first attempt with Lepesant Lama had stumbled across 1 extremely old peg which he believes belongs to a previous, undocumented attempt decades ago.
Asked as to what makes the Valsertal special, Lama replied "Well despite being so close to home it feels really out there. After not even an hour’s rive all of a sudden you’re completely on your own and having to deal with extremely demanding climbing. The mountains here offer everything, good protection, terrible protection, good rock and then suddenly catastrophic rock. It’s always exciting and adventurous up there."
Nord Pfeiler joins Lama’s growing list of new routes in the Valsertal. Apart from the aforementioned Sagzahn - Verschneidung up Sagwand, Lama has also carried out winter ascents of Badlands (first ascent, solo, April 2012), Sagwand Schiefer Riss (March 2013 together with Hansjörg Auer and Peter Ortner) and Sagwand Mittelpfeiler (solo, May 2013).
Link: www.david-lama.com, La Sportiva