This Legend is 54 and Just Climbed a New 5.14 Multi-Pitch
Alex Huber established a six-pitch limestone route ground-up solo and recently made the first free ascent
Alex Huber, who’s been establishing difficult routes for over 30 years, has made the first ascent of a six-pitch 5.14a called Ramayana on Waidringer Steinplatte in Austria.
The 54-year-old German all-rounder made the first ascent of Ramayana ground-up and alone using rope-solo techniques. He’d previously climbed several other new routes in the area. For protection, Huber bolted the steep face sections and relied on trad gear where there was cracks.
“Ramayana is a new, six-pitch long alpine climb in the Tyrolean Steinplatte which hosts many other alpine climbs like Nirwana, Sansara, Mauerläufer, Highway, and Feuertaufe. It’s basically a challenging route with high technical difficulties, but it also needs to be protected with removeable gear. Thanks to Tobi Ebner for giving me the belay on the ascent. Big thanks to Klaus Fengler for taking the great photos.”
In 1996, Huber established Open Air at Schleierwasserfalle, a route that many considered to be the world’s first 5.15a. Huber also established Bellavista 5.14 and Pan-Aroma 5.14 on Tre Cime, Samsara and Feuertaufe on the Grand Capucin, Wetterbock 5.14, and made the first ascent of Latok II. On El Capitan, he freed Freerider 5.13, El Nino 5.13 and Golden Gate 5.13.
Huber’s Bold Free-Solo
In 2002, Alex Huber free-soloed the classic 18-pitch Hasse-Brandler on Cima Grande in the Dolomite. At the time, it was one of the boldest free-solos in the range, with 500 metres of steep climbing up to 5.12a.
Huber climbed the rarely dry line in only four hours, passing suspect rock and sections of technical climbing. Of the 500 metres over 20 pitches, 350 are continuously overhanging. There’s one 5.12a pitch, four 5.11 and four 5.10, with the rest being mostly 5.9. To prepare for the climb, he spent six days training on it with partners and alone. He also free-soloed several single-pitch climbs up to 5.13c.
Huber said that his route was “mentally, the hardest thing I have done in mountaineering. Regarding the danger, when I began the route I had my emotions well balanced and the knowledge that my mental strength was stable. Of course, this route is valid only for myself and any other free-solo climber with similar mental strengths.”
The Hasse-Brandler was first climbed by Lothar Brandler, Dieter Hasse, Jörg Lehne and Sigi Löw in 1958, and freed by Kurt Albert in 1987. Read Huber’s account in the American Alpine Journal here. There are several amazing free-solo videos online, but despite being nearly two decades old the below video of Huber free-soloing the Hasse-Brandler is still one of the best and most gripping.