Nina Caprez and Barbara Zangerl have made the third and fourth ascents of the 1,400-foot Die Unendliche Geschichte (8b+/5.14a) in the Rätikon massif of Switzerland. Both redpointed the 12-pitch 1990’s route—one on September 8th, and one September 9th.
“It’s still so unreal,” Caprez posted on Instagram. “I can’t describe in words what I lived up there with [Barbara Zangerl] during the last two months. Respect [once] more to Beat Kammerlander…What a badass.”
Kammerlander, a Rätikon climbing legend, established Die Unendliche Geschichte ground-up in 1990 and redpointed the route in 1991. “…He was miles ahead of his time,” Zangerl wrote on Instagram. It took 14 years for the “Never Ending Story” to see a second ascent—by the Italian Pietro Prà in 2005.
While bolted, Die Unendliche Geschichte—like many Rätikon routes—is runout, heady and rarely attempted. Bolts usually appear after crux sections, where they were easier to place ground-up, creating potential for massive whips. Moreover, protection is spread thin on the easier sections, and for a route like Die Unendliche Geschichte, that means 7c+/5.13a climbing.
A photo posted by Barbara Zangerl (@barbarazangerl) on
“Sometimes it was a big fight to find out all the betas,” Zangerl wrote. “We had to brush all the holds again…there were no marks from other climbers. It was just pure!”
And by big fight, for example, it took Zangerl and Caprez three days to unlock the first nine feet of the second hardest pitch (5.13d).
“The thing with this route is that unlike the much steeper Silbergeier, there are no obvious holds,” Zangerl said in an interview with planetmountain.com. “You’ve just got to hope that your feet stay put and you don’t fall off. On some of the moves you’ve got like a 50-50 chance of staying on.”
Zangerl, from Austria, and Caprez, of Switzerland, are no strangers to heady, multi-pitch climbs. In the summer of 2011, Caprez redpointed the infamous Silbergeier (5.14a), also in the Rätikon, claiming the route’s first female ascent. Last year, Caprez climbed Orbayu—a 1,640-foot 5.14a/b in the Picos de Europa mountains of Spain.
Equally decorated, Zangerl was the first female to boulder V13 with Pura Vida in Magic Wood, Switzerland. She claimed the first female ascents of Prinzip Hoffnung (5.13d) in Vorarlberg, Germany, and the Alpine Trilogy—three 5.14a multi-pitch routes in the Alps: Kaisers neue Kleider, Silbergeier and End of Silence. In July, Zangerl climbed Bellivista, a 10-pitch 5.14a in Italy’s Dolomites.
Zangerl and Caprez teamed up this summer for Die Unendliche Geschichte, putting two months of effort into the route before making their back-to-back ascents.
Despite being the first females to climb Die Unendliche Geschichte, Caprez looks past the gender label: “In my eyes there is no difference between girls and boys, especially on vertical and technical faces like the ones in Rätikon,” she told planetmountain.com. “There is only one difference that matters and it’s between the first ascent and all that follow. Redpointers are always in the privileged position, they already know that the route is possible to climb.”
Watch Nina Caprez Free Silbergeier (5.14a)