Dani Arnold on AnubisInterview

© Dani Arnold

Swiss climber Dani Arnold recently made the first repeat of Dave MacLeod's Anubis (XII) XII,12 on Ben Nevis (UKC News Report) - possibly the hardest winter line in the UK to date.

Dani Arnold enjoying Scottish Winter  © Dani Arnold
Dani Arnold enjoying Scottish Winter
© Dani Arnold

It's always exciting when a foreign climber visits the UK - even more so when they make the second ascent of a bold Scottish winter climb on our highest mountain.

Dani Arnold first appeared on our radar back in 2011, breaking the Eiger speed solo record, having made a very significant first winter ascent of Torre Egger in Patagonia the previous year. The 32 year-old has since continued to make a name for himself with impressive achievements in both mixed and ice climbing - once again breaking Ueli Steck's speed solo record on the Matterhorn in May last year.

Hard, technical pitches are not unfamiliar to Dani, though, as his ticklist from multiple trips to Scotland demonstrates. We asked Dani a few questions about Anubis and his experiences of Scottish Winter...

You have visited Scotland previously - tell us what you did on those trips?

I have been four times to Scotland. I don't remember every route I did, but some of them were:

The Hurting (XI) XI
The Secret (VIII 9) VIII
Knuckleduster (VIII 9) VIII
Unicorn (Winter) (VIII 8) VIII
Minus One Gully (VI 6) VI
Gargoyle Wall (VI 6) VI
Gemini (VI 6) VI
Tower Ridge (IV 3) IV
Savage Slit (Winter) (V 6) V
Fallout Corner (Winter) (VI 7) VI

As you can see, I also enjoy easier routes. I like to switch between 'easy' and 'serious' routes.

Dani preparing for Anubis  © Dani Arnold
Dani preparing for Anubis
© Dani Arnold

What made you return this year?

I tried Anubis in January. On my second try I almost did it, but unfortunately only almost! Then it was too warm. In March I checked the weather and conditions and I had some time off. I decided to travel to Scotland once again. I fell off once more at the crux and then I did it.

Why did you choose to try Anubis?

After The Hurting it was clear for me that I needed to look for the next step. I like to have a goal, so I know what I'm training for and to keep my focus. Whether I reach the goal or fail, that's not very important. For me the journey and the mental battle to the goal is more important than simply achieving something.

Dani getting stuck in to Anubis  © Dani Arnold
Dani getting stuck in to Anubis
© Dani Arnold

How were conditions on the climb?

It was Scottish ;-) In January it was a tiny bit too warm. In March it was perfect.

Tell us a bit about the process of climbing it - your attempts, any difficulties you faced etc.

In January I was in quite good shape and I was almost able to send it. It was very hard for me to work out where I had to climb. The start and the roof was clear but after that, I didn't know if I should climb more to the right. Maybe it was a mistake not reading the description properly, but I liked this challenge. Congratulations to Dave, amazing line! Also for having the courage to try it, it's cool and impressive!

Dani high on the headwall of Anubis  © Dani Arnold
Dani high on the headwall of Anubis
© Dani Arnold

It's been reported that you climbed it twice - is this true?!

I did Anubis only once on redpoint. It was enough :-) But yes, I fell off on the crux again, climbed it to the belay, rappelled and removed everything and on my second try on 5th March I did it. In the end I was successful on the fourth try - always ground-up.

What would you grade the route as? Dave MacLeod mentioned that it was harder than the XI's he has done.

That's a very hard question and of course I have done some hard routes but not as many as Dave or Greg (Boswell). I did The Hurting almost onsight and I fell off three times on Anubis. Yes, probably a bit harder. It is also very hard to compare it. The majority of routes I have done are not really steep, but Anubis is very physical. I don't know exactly. The conditions are almost never the same. But yes, I can certainly say that I had to fight for Anubis! :-)

Dani at the top, clearly showing the scale of the route...  © Dani Arnold
Dani at the top, clearly showing the scale of the route...
© Dani Arnold

How did it compare to harder routes you have climbed in Europe, at the Bretiwangflue for example?

It's very hard to compare it. Of course we also have some traditional routes. And they are hard as well. But usually you can see the hooks, because they are normally not covered with ice and snow. Climbing in Scotland is more adventurous than in Europe. Long approaches, bad weather and very hard to get good conditions. The hard routes are always difficult, no matter where you go.

Dani and Lukas Hinterberger enjoying Scottish conditions!  © Dani Arnold
Dani and Lukas Hinterberger enjoying Scottish conditions!
© Dani Arnold

What else did you climb on this trip to Scotland?

We did a route in Glencoe, on the Ben, and some in the Cairngorms with my two brothers. Easier ones!

What's next for you - any plans to return to Scotland?

Yes, I think so. But I don't know when or for what. I try to look not to far in the future. It will change anyway…

Watch a video of Dani's time on Anubis below:

Visit Dani's website.

Dani is sponsored by: Mammut and Victorinox

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