Mammut presents six ‘rock classics’ — milestones in the history of sports climbing. And the people who climbed them for the first time, revisiting their own routes accompanied by top climbers from the Mammut Pro Team. This Episode: Jan Hojer
ACTION DIRECTE 9a | WALDKOPF, FRANKENJURA
What is a natural number? It is simply any number “n” for which there is a follower “n+1″. But it’s not quite so easy when it comes to the numbers used to define difficulty gradings in climbing – at least not since “Action Directe”…
No, the name has no connection to the extreme left-wing French underground organization from the 1980s – as repeatedly emphasized by the man behind the first ascent. It alludes to the fact that this route feels like a true terrorist attack on fingers, ligaments and sinews. And also that every single move needs to be an “Action Directe” – hesitate for even a second and all is lost!
The name says it all! Waldkopf (‘wood head’ in German) is the name of a rock barely 15 meters high somewhere in the Krottensee forest, hidden among high trees and shrubs in a setting that brings to mind an enchanted forest. With a little imagination, you could almost imagine a hobbit or an elf popping up from behind the next boulder – but the Waldkopf is not in Middle Earth, rather in the ‘Hersbrucker Schweiz’ area in the Frankenjura. «Waldkopf is the name of a rock barely 15 meters high somewhere in the Krottensee forest»And any hobbits or elves that may ever have lived in the Krottensee forest have long since disappeared – at least since once of the best-known climbing routes in the world came into being on the Waldkopf. Since then, this rock has been a place of pilgrimage for the world’s best climbers – and for those who think they are…
In the late 1980s, on one of his excursions through the Franconian woods, Milan Sykora came across the Waldkopf and spotted a potentially climbable line running over the steep, 40 degree overhanging wall. He placed bolts along the route but soon realized that although the line was climbable – it was much too difficult for him! But this is where his friend came in, Wolfgang Güllich, who was back in top climbing form after a few years on the mountains of the world and long, «Milan Sykora came across the Waldkopf and spotted a potentially climbable line running over the steep»tough winter training on the campus board. Milan showed him his line and Wolfgang was immediately fascinated. He realized straight away that climbing this route would open up a whole new dimension of difficulty and was simply bursting with motivation. After eleven days of climbing, split over ten weeks in the summer of 1991, on September 14, Wolfgang finally completed his ascent: twelve extremely tough bouldering moves and a 70-second maximum load on the body – that’s “Action Directe”!
Explore more of the Golden Age of Rock Climbing!