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Alexander Huber making the first free ascent of Highway on Waidringer Steinplatte, Austria, in autumn 2020. '
Photo by Heinz Zak
Alexander Huber making the first free ascent of Highway on Waidringer Steinplatte, Austria, first ascended in 1987 by Thomas Schäfer and Norbert Wich
Photo by Heinz Zak

Alexander Huber frees 30-year project on Waidringer Steinplatte, Austria

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German rock climber Alexander Huber frees Highway, a 30-year project established by Thomas Schäfer and Norbert Wich on Waidringer Steinplatte in Austria.

Shortly before the onset of winter Germany’s Alexander Huber made the long-awaited first free ascent of a stunning line on Steinplatte, the impeccably smooth south-facing sheet of limestone located between Waidring and Lofer high up in the Austrian Alps.

The route in question, Highway, was established back in 1987 by Thomas Schäfer and Norbert Wich with some points of aid. Huber had actually attempted to free the line not long after the first ascent, but was forced to give up in the scorching midday sun on reaching pitch 4.

In 2018 Huber returned to the Steinplatte's Elefantenbauch sector to make his ground-up, rope solo first ascent of his Mauerläufer circa 100m to the right, and it was while establishing this 8b+ multi-pitch that his curiosity for Highway was rekindled.

After spending this summer freeing Magellan on Urlkopf close to Loferer Alm, Sonnenkönig on Untersberg and Siete Venas on Alpeltalkopf in the Berchtesgaden Alps, he turned his attention to the Steinplatte project.

The 6 pitches now check in at 6b, 7b+, 7c, 8a+, 8a+ and 6c+ and although at first glance the difficulties may be judged not too extreme, it’s worth remembering that the line weaves its way up an utterly smooth slab. "Not one single ledge, even not one single big hold... it's like dancing in the ballroom of micro footholds." explained the 51-year-old mountain guide, telling  planetmountain.com "The climbing is unbelievably elegant, and also incredibly unique. It's like an effortless dance."

Link: huberbuam.deIG Alexander HuberLa SportivaPetzl

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