I am currently waiting at Seattle’s airport to board my flight back home. It snows heavily outside. Autumn might be over. The last two and a half weeks were spent in Leavenworth, Washington, USA. Local climbers told Kilian and I that we will need to be lucky to find good weather on the West coast in autumn. Somehow we were curious to try anyway.
When we arrived in Leavenworth the sky was grey and it was raining. We had to think about the statement of the locals, but tried to stay positive nonetheless. After some days of rain the sun came out. The leaves were yellow, red and golden. While driving towards the blocs it felt as if we were fish swimming through the reef. We hit a period of good weather and made the most of it by climbing many stunning lines on Swiss-like granite.
Kilian and I looked at “the Penrose Step” V14, on our very first day: I was impressed by its beauty, line and height. My friend Alex Puccio had already told me about this gem. A week later Kilian and I tried the first moves, but with only two pads at hand, we could not try the end. However for me it was clear that I’d want to come back and work on this problem.
The process of projecting “The Penrose Step” was interesting: From confidence to disbelief- I was confronted with a variety of emotions. The whole process was all the more interesting because Kilian and I tried to solve this problem together. It happens on rare occasions that we can try a problem for a longer period of time. Usually Kilian succeeds faster and this time it was no different: Kilian sent on our fourth day and even if I was getting closer I was unable to repeat his achievement. It was time to be patient, which is a weakness of mine… In addition, the forecast for our last week was far from ideal- our flight was scheduled on Friday and I thought Tuesday might be my last chance. I tried hard and long, but after 5 hours (!) I had to give up. Disappointed, we drove to our apartment.
On the following morning I felt tired and my muscles ached. When I saw the sun, where I had expected heavy clouds, I knew that I might have one more chance to climb my dreamline. I was simply happy about the opportunity and the outcome seemed suddenly less important. All I wanted was to try again.
After warming up I felt confident and almost stuck the crux. I took a break and focused. I grabbed the starting holds, placed my right foot, did the cross move and crimped really hard. Somehow my body executed the movements I had tried for seven days: my body and mind were in the perfect flow and I made no mistakes. When I grabbed the top jug all I could do was scream. I still had to concentrate for the final mantle, but everything worked out well and I lay down on top of the boulder. I was out of breath, screamed out of joy and could not believe that I had actually climbed “The Penrose Step” V14.
The snow arrived on the following day. And I can’t help but feel extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to climb in Leavenworth, this bouldering mecca, for two and a half weeks with perfect conditions and sunshine.