After five attempts over five days, Roland Hemetzberger ended his battle for the second ascent of Fugu (9a/5.14d).
Fugu, located in Austria’s Schleierwasserfall, was an open Alexander Huber project from 1998 until 2009, when Adam Ondra freed it after six attempts.
Hemetzberger, 24, spent two days projecting the route last fall and was able to work out every move on but not link sequences. After a winter of training, he returned in mid-March, trying the route once each day and sending on his fifth day.
In the route, Hemetzberger told Rock and Ice, “I found something exact in my vision, steep but not a roof, endurance but with hard boulder problems and super beautiful rock.”
Hemetzberger began climbing 10 years ago when friends showed him how to rappel off rocks around his hometown,Oberaudorf, in Bavaria, Germany. He was quickly adopted into the local climbing community and has been climbing ever since.
“I don’t repeat so much,” said Hemetzberger.“I like to discover new rocks around the world and establish new climbs, normally in the Alps. Where I live, I climb almost the hardest routes.” However, Hemetzberger said these routes are often wet for long periods, so he bolts new lines to try while he waits.
Though Hemetzberger establishes routes at all grades, some of his hardest first ascents include the 10-pitch Tabularasa (8b/5.13d) in Taghia, Morocco; the 13-pitch Relikt (8b+/5.14a) and the nine-pitch trad route Scheffler Siegert (8b/5.13d), both in Austria’s Wilder Kaiser; and the single-pitch sport routes Lichtblick (9a/5.14d) and The Void (9a/5.14d) in Achleiten, Austria. [WATCH: Hemetzberger - Lichtblick (9a/5.14d) and The Void (9a/5.14d)]
Hemetzberger said that repeating hard routes like Fugu helps him assign grades to his own routes.
“When you try a lot of projects you lose a bit of reality about the grades,” Hemetzberger explained. “Grades are like a benchmark for me, not important, but nice to orient [climbers], and I want to give correct orients.”
You can find Roland on Facebook @Roland Hemetzberger and on Instagram @roland_hemetzberger.