Siebe Vanhee climbs Gastlosen testpiece Yeah Man
Belgium’s Siebe Vanhee has made a fast ascent of Yeah Man, the 8b+ multi-pitch alpine sports climb up Gran Pfad in Switzerland’s Gastlosen mountain range.
Hot on Cédric Lachat’s heels, Belgian climber Siebe Vanhee has pulled off a fast ascent of Yeah Man, the nine-pitch 8b+ located on Gran Pfad in Switzerland’s Gastlosen mountain range.
Established by the Swiss mountain guides Francoise Studemann and Guy Scherrer, the pitches of this 300m line were freed individually by Josune Bereziartu and Rikar Otegi in 2004 due to poor weather conditions. In 2010 the late Giovanni Quirici era made the first one-day redpoint and after having fallen off the radar, Lachat retrieved it from oblivion at the start of July. This is now Vanhee’s hardest multi-ptich to date, for which he required just 3 days of preparation prior to the successful redpoint on 8 August.
Yeah Man by Siebe Vanhee
Last Thursday, the 8th of August, I managed to sent my hardest multi-pitch ever. Suddenly I was hanging there, at the anchor of the 8th pitch (8b+) of Yeah Man, having free climbed all the pitches in one day. This ascent came very quick, I’d given myself the whole month of August not to feel any pressure. This was the best strategy ever. The day I sent, was only my 4th day on the route in a total of 9 days! With this ascent I’m the third person to free climb the entire route in one day after Giovnani Quirici and Cédric Lachat. Cédric sent the route just last month, congratz to him!
Due to the humid conditions that day my expectations were very low. The best way to try hard and climb relaxed is to have no expectations at all. My climbing partner of the day, Vini, was eager to check out the route for the first time and didn’t mind following every pitch on toprope. This gave me the perfect opportunity to lead every single pitch.
Yeah Man is a really sustained climb because of the quantity of hard pitches you have to climb in a row, all the way in the end. The first four pitches (grade 7) are steep and crimpy, hard enough to give you some pumped forearms. From the fifth pitch the angle starts to change to vertical and even slaby, but the difficulty increases. This first hard pitch (8a+) is crimpy and balancy with a pumpy section on slopers at the very end. Some precise footwork and confidence are crucial.
I managed to send this one on the first try, despite some sketchy footwork due to the humidity at the end. The sixth pitch (8a) is a real heartbreaker. A 6b crack goes into some 7c moves where smearing on flat footholds makes you shit your pants. Once you’ve shat your pants you can continue the pitch with a dyno (on the slab) from a slopey pocket and crimp to a less slopey hold. This ‘less slopey hold’ was completely wet so I came off; after having dried out the hold I went back down to the anchor and sent it on my second try.
From that moment I knew I could possibly send the route because I hadn’t spent too much energy yet. We took a little break on the grassy ledge and I continued with the next 8a. Much easier than the previous one, with just one hard move at the very end, I climbed this one straight away.
Last but definitely not least comes the 8b+ crux pitch of the route. A mighty 45 meter line on crimps leads you through the headwall of the Gran Pfad West face. I remembered the first time I arrived at the base of this pitch I was very intimidated, now I felt confident.
The pitch starts with 20 slightly overhanging meters followed by a crux on more vertical terrain. Next comes another steep section which is very physical, climbing on slopers in amazingly featured rock! Nicely pumped you can enter the last crux just before the demanding slab that leads to the anchor. Confident, but a little bit too nervous, I tried to send this crux pitch. Very soon I felt something strange, a flash-pump! It was like I hadn’t warmed up properly, I didn’t think it was possible because I had just climbed 7 hard pitches. I fell on my first try, took a good rest down at the belay and gave it a second try. This was it, less nervous and nicely warmed up I cruised to the upper crux, took a rest and confidently climbed towards the anchor. Very last and maybe least is the little 7a to the summit of the peak, pure joy! Here’s the route: 7a, 7b+, 7b+, 7c, 8a+, 8a, 8a, 8b+, 7a
The strategy to work and climb Yeah Man turned out to different from what I had envisaged . The original idea was to invest some days in trying to send just one or two of the hardest pitches. But because I had different partners it felt more logical to always climb every pitch from the bottom to the top. This is definitely more tiring but at least it gives you the endurance to climb many pitches in one day.
Personally, this ascent means a lot to me. When I came back from Patagonia last January the goal was to train and raise my climbing level to be able to climb harder grades on big walls. My intermediate goals where focused on sport climbs. I aimed to raise my climbing level to 9a, oooh the mythical number. This is what I tried last month in Rawyl (Sion, Switzerland). But despite some time pressure and brain farts I couldn’t manage to send my project. I kept falling on the very last hard move of the famous La Cabane au Canada. The main training goal this year was to be more comfortable on harder multi pitches. With my send of Yeah Man I’m going in the right direction.
The biggest lesson I learned from this is to really have more patience. I took more than one rest day in between the tries and I gave myself one month to work and climb the route. So less pressure helps to be more patient. So my message is: "If you think you are patient and there is still no result, you’re not patient enough!"
Links: FB Siebe Vanhee, www.siebevanhee.be, La Sportiva, Petzl, The North Face
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* Free ascent of ‘Yeah Man’, 8b+ multipitch Gastlosen * Last Thursday 8th of August I managed to sent my hardest multi-pitch ever. Suddenly I was hanging there, at the anchor of the 8th pitch (8b+) of ‘Yeah Man’, having freeclimbed all the pitches in one day. This ascent came very quick, I gave myself the whole month of August not to feel any pressure. This was the best strategy ever. The day I sent, was only my 4th day on the route in 9 days time! With this ascent I’m the third person to freeclimb the entire route in one day after Giovani Quirici and Cédric Lachat. Cédric just send the route last month, congratz to him! Thanks to the humid conditions that day, my expectations where very low. The best way to try hard and climb relax is to have no expectations at all. My climbing partner of the day, Vini, was eager to check out the route for the first time and didn’t mind following every pitch in toprope. This gave me the perfect opportunity to lead every single pitch. Yeah Man is a real sustained climb because of the high number of hard pitches you have to climb in a row, all the way in the end. Here’s the itinerary: 7a / 7b+ / 7b+ / 7c / 8a+ / 8a / 8a / 8b+ / 7a The biggest lesson I learned from this is to really have more patience. I took more than one rest day in between the try’s and I gave myself one month time to work and climb the route. So less pressure helps to be more patient. So my message is: “If you think you are patient and there is still no result, you’re not patient enough!” Thanks a lot to Lowie, Vini and Jean-Elie for joining me on the route! Big hugs and thanks to Ruben and Delphine for all the support!@delphine_puremovement and @laniac_escalade And big thanks for the great pictures @stefankuerzi #neverstopexploring #lasportiva #foryourmountain #weareclimbers @thenorthface @thenorthface_climb @thenorthfaceuk @thenorthfacede @thenorthfaceit @petzl_official @lasportivagram @avventuraoutdoor @totemmt @climbskinspain @sportpraktijk @frigyesvandenauweele @klimclubhungaria @kleankanteen