Johannes Kehrer and Martin Sieberer have made the first ascent of Smooth Criminal (M9/WI7-/150m), a testing mixed climb established in the Floitental in Austria.
Austrian alpinists Johannes Kehrer and Martin Sieberer have completed their long-tem mixed climbing project on a hitherto unclimbed wall high up in the Floitental, a small valley that branches off before the Zillertal close to Innsbruck in Austria.
Kehrer and Sieberer first ventured into the valley February 2018 and, using trad gear and very few bolts where the ice was too thin or the granite otherwise unprotectable, they established the first two pitches. Four years passed before the pair returned this January to establish the remaining two pitches, past thin ice and runout pro. Reaching the top proved a relief but they felt they needed to return to complete the works and on 28 February Sieberer managed to free all pitches on lead, running it out on the crux 3rd pitch past extremely delicate ice.
Sieberer explained “A daring swing into the void and cautious climbing forces me to make a decision: if need be, am I mentally strong enough to climb the next 25 meters in the steep ice without placing pegs or ice screws, or do I give up and fall 5 meters down onto the last bolt. I know from my last here that there is a crack halfway up that I can probably use as pro. I continue to climb cautiously without thinking, ignoring the strange, hollow bellows and after ten meters I place some gear in the rock. The ice quality improves, but the drip on the left is connected so poorly rock that it is unlikely to remain attached to the wall for much longer. The right drip sounds better, but I don’t dare place an ice screw. I place another two nuts in the overhang (both left in-situ) and climb the entire drip fuelled by endorphins. Only when the angle eases off do I place an ice screw and let my joy take over.”
Graded M9/WI7-/150m, Smooth Criminal is a physically but above all psychologically demanding outing and requires optimal conditions for a repeat.