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Interview: Maddy Cope on “Prinzip Hoffnung,” 5.14a R Trad Route

After working it a bit on toprope, Cope took the climb down on just her third lead attempt.

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Maddy Cope on Prinzip Hoffung. Photo: Jacopo Larcher.

Less than a week after Nadine Wallner sent the spicy Beat Kammerlander trad testpiece Prinzip Hoffnung (5.14a R), Maddy Cope, 28, has done the same.

While this is one of her biggest sends to date, Cope, who lives in Sheffield in the U.K. and started climbing at 17, has ticked plenty of hard routes. On the trad side of things, she’s climbed Freerider (VI 5.12d) and nearly freed The Shaft (VI 5.13c), both on El Cap, and ticked ascents of bold single-pitch routes like Once Upon a Time in the Southwest (E9 6C), Devon, England, and Bookcake (7c+/5.13a), Cadarese, Italy.

And it’s not just a cool head that makes her a climber to watch: She can crank on crimps and clip quickdraws with the best of them. On the sport side of things she’s sent Bat Route (8c/5.14b), in Malham Cove, England.

Prinzip Hoffnung is located in Bürser Platte, Austria. Barbara Zangerl became the first woman to redpoint it in 2014. Hers was the third ascent after Kammerlander’s and Jacopo Larcher’s.

See what Cope had to say about her ascent in the interview below!

Q&A with Madeleine Cope

How did you decide to try Prinzip Hoffnung?

My partner and I were climbing at Voralpsee, Switzerland and met Nadine Wallner and Claudia Zangerl, and ended up going for dinner in Bludenz. They mentioned I might like the route because of its trad style. I had seen pictures and footage of some of my climbing heroes on the climb. I didn’t necessarily think I could do it but I decided to check it out anyway. I had one play on a toprope and knew I would love to try it more, so planned to come back in spring.

Can you describe the route a bit?

It breaks down into a slightly sketchy start, but with relatively easy climbing, into a tricky boulder problem where you are relying on one wire. The wire is good, but you wouldn’t want to kick it out or something.

Then the climbing eases up for a while, following the crack with nice flowing moves. At a bit over half height the crack runs out and the insecure moves start. You can place two good RPs to protect the runout, but they are hard to place.

The crux run out is sustained body-position climbing. The holds actually aren’t that small, but the feet are bad and it lends itself to some really cool moves. Once the runout is done it eases off, but you need to stay relaxed.

Cope styling Prinzip Hoffnung. Photo: Jacopo Larcher.

How long did you work on it for?

I can’t remember the tries exactly, but I had about seven or eight goes on a toprope to work out the moves and gear. It was really hot so we had to wait until late evening, and half of my goes were in the dark! It took three lead goes to send it—it was fun to take the fall a couple of times, definitely added to the experience!

Is is pretty scary on those runouts?

The fall is quite big—especially from the last sideways reach, which is harder if you have a shorter span—but it is safe, especially with a soft catch and a roller quickdraw. I was a bit nervous of it on my first lead. I was climbing by head torch and the shadows made it harder to see if the gear was placed properly. The climbing is really absorbing though, so when you are focused there is no room to be scared.

It’s cool that you and Nadine Wallner sent so close together—were you guys working it together at all?

Yes! When I arrived Nadine had been trying it for a while. She had invested a lot and was having a bit of a battle. It was so inspiring to see her level of commitment and I think it was nice for her that we could try it together—a new partner to inject some psyche.

Unfortunately I missed her send, as my partner had a project in Switzerland and we were going between the two.

What do you think of the difficulty?

It’s really hard to tell. I’m definitely no expert and the route is quite conditions dependent. On toprope it’s not too bad, but I think 8b [5.13d] with placing the gear, or E9 (which would be more for the difficulty of the climbing than for danger). I think the American grading system would work well: 5.13d R.

What other projects do you have your eye on in the coming year? Any big plans or trips on the horizon?

I’m heading back to the U.K. to work, but have an exciting trip to Mongolia with Hazel Findlay in May. Other than that I hope to return to Yosemite in autumn or maybe somewhere new for a big wall adventure.

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