The Alpine Trilogy is a trio of 8b+ (5.14a) sought-after multipitch climbs in the Alps— Thomas Huber’s End of Silence, Berchtesgaden Alps, Germany; Stefan Glowacz’s Des Kaisers neue Kleider, Wilder Kaiser massif, Austria; and Beat Kammerlander’s Silbergeier, the Rätikon, Switzerland—all established in 1994. Most climbers would delight in sending all three in the course of a career. At the end of last week Belgian climbers Nicolas Favresse and Sébastien Berthe topped out End of Silence to complete the trilogy themselves, but they needed just over two weeks—15 days to be exact—from start to finish. They are the first climbers to do the Alpine Trilogy in one calendar season.
“It was Seb’s idea to do it in a single season,” Favresse told Rock and Ice. Berthe’s original partner had to bail, and Favresse, who had had other plans fall through due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, was excited to step in.
Favresse is well-known for his ascents of cutting edge climbs like The Recovery Drink, and expedition antics in far-flung places like Patagonia and Baffin Island, with frequent climbing and musical partner Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll. Berthe made a free ascent of the Nose last fall, the first person to do so in pure ground-up style (though he did use preplaced gear on the Great Roof and the Changing Corners pitches).
For their seige of the Alpine Trilogy, Berthe and Favresse spiced things up by connecting all the climbs by bicycle.
“In the last few years I took too many planes to go climbing. This Covid situation made me think that it’s time to change my approach to my adventures,” Favresse explained. “So our main idea with linking the climbs by bike was to reduce our carbon footprint and to inspire people by showing that we don’t need to waste so much CO2 to have a cool adventure.”
Just as impressive as the short timespan in which they completed the trilogy is that both climbers sent each route in just a single day—no projecting sessions needed. Favresse had climbed Silbergeier once before 13 years earlier, and Berthe had put two days of work into it seven years ago, but neither had ever been on Des Kaisers neue Kleider or End of Silence. Favresse said that, aside from Adam Ondra who climbed Silbergeier on his first day on that route in 2007, he believes he and Berthe are the first climbers to send the other two routes during their first day on them.
Climbing the Alpine Trilogy in two weeks and traveling by bike still ddn’t seem like challenge enough for Berthe and Favresse though. They added a fourth route into the mix: Marc Amman’s Headless Children (8b+, 260 meters) in the Rätikon. Berthe pulled out a flash of Headless Children.
Between all four routes, Favresse estimated that he took somewhere in the neigborhood of 30 falls, and Berthe about 20.
“The hardest for us was Des Kaisers,” Favresse said. “We were completely at the limit… We both fell about 15 times on it and finally sent the last hard pitch at 4 am after trying it all night long!”
But neither redpointing by headlamp or biking between countries was the crux of the adventure. The climbers brought their dogs along—Favresse recently adopted a puppy, who is now 4 months old.
“The dogs probably added more to the challenge than the biking actually!” Favresse said.