Barbara “Babsi” Zangerl and Jacopo Larcher—two of the best all-around climbers in the world, who also happen to be a couple—have a theme of sending things one after another, order be damned. They’ve done it on Yosemite big-walls, Gondo Crack (5.14b trad), Prinzip Hoffnung (also 5.14b trad), and many more. Now they’ve done it on Greenspit, in Valle d’Orco, Italy, one of the hardest cracks in the world. It weighs in at 5.14.
Zangerl ticked the 40-foot roof crack last week after four days of work (and three attempts where she fell at the very top), and Larcher followed up at the start of this week.
“Greenspit was a challenge for me—I think it was my hardest single-pitch crack climb so far,” Zangerl told Rock and Ice.
“For me it was for sure a big thing to climb Greenspit. It was always in my mind to try this line. But to be honest I didn’t think that I had a chance on it,” she said. “My crack climbing skills are still not the best, I would say. That is the style of climbing I struggle the most in. It made me very happy and I enjoyed the process of linking all the moves together.”
The line that became Greenspit was bolted in the 1980s and equipped with green bolt hangers, but never freed. Then in 2003, 22-year-old Swiss Climber Didier Berthod showed up, chopped the bolts, and freed an extended version of the line on pre-placed gear. He graded it 8b+ (5.14a). He later redpointed the route.
“Didier was always a big inspiration to me. I am very psyched to repeat one of his king lines,” Zangerl said.
Greenspit has been climbed by other strong climbers, including Nico Favresse, Tom Randall, Matteo Della Bordella and Fred Moix. In 2009, British hardman Stevie Haston flashed the route on pre-placed gear (and suggested a downgrade to 8b/+, or 5.13d/14a)
As to how hard she thought the line was, Zangerl said it “is hard to compare with other trad climbs” she has done, because of how pure and steep of a crack it is. “For example Gondo Crack is definitely more a face climb. You don’t have to hand jam. The crux on Gondo Crack was a boulder problem. Also on El Cap the routes we did, they were in a different style and hard to compare.”
Zangerl described the line as starting with a pumpy section of wide hands that leads to an “undercling fingerlock,” from which she did a “huge cross move to a crimp.”
From there the real crux—the closing sequence—beings. “I found out some pretty cool beta for the end,” Zangerl said,”involving a big cross to a finger slot. Then I reached the last hold in the roof and had to cut my feet and hold a big swing.”
While we have not yet heard from Larcher—he had not yet sent when Zangerl was asked for comment—his redpoint is in keeping with his reputation as one of the strongest traditional climbers of his generation. In 2019, Larcher made the first ascent of his longstanding project Tribe, which many have speculated to be the hardest single traditional pitch in the world.
As to what’s next for she and Larcher, Zangerl said, “We don’t have any special plans for the next months. We will stay in Valle del Orco for one more week before we head back home. It seems that we have to stay at home in winter because of the Covid situation. There are more and more cases here in Europe and there will be more restrictions soon. So we will enjoy the winter at home. Doing some skiing and training and working in the hospital.”