After Jernej Kruder made the coveted 2nd ascent of Chris Sharma's Es Pontas, I caught up with the strong Slovenian and asked him some questions.
Do you remember when you first heard about Es Pontas? Has it been a dream of your's to climb it, or was it more of a coincidence that you went there to try it?
Of course we all saw the King lines movie. I think it all inspired us, but back in the day I wouldn't have dreamed of it.
When I decided to come here I didn't know what to expect. I have never tried psicobloc before and I don't know how pumpy it is. I was also concerned about the freakish drop knees in the traverse.
But at least I knew I'm crazy enough and that I'm good in dynos.
When you first tried it, was it what you expected? Can you describe the route and its main difficulties/cruxes? How long/tall is it for example?
I planned this trip would last for 5 weeks. First I thought I was just gonna climb some easier stuff for the first week and when I felt comfortable I could begin projecting on Es pontas.
But on my first day I felt too good to not try something hard. So I onsighted Sharma's Weather man 8a+ (18 meters with a crux at the top) and I already gave Es pontas a go. I almost stuck the dyno on my first day, so I knew that there might be a small chance to make it work in five weeks.
At the beginning, for sure the crux was the dyno. And if I we're ttaling about the single moves, the dyno, at 9 meters, is for sure the hardest.
After the dyno there is a traverse (still at around 10 meters) which was a big mystery for me, because I only saw Chris doing some crazy drop knees. For me that was impossible, but luckily I found a better solution for me.
The last crux was the arete (up to 13 meters). I knew I didn't have much time so I decided to try the upper part with a rope. The moves felt okay, just easy enough that I knew it was possible to connect the whole thing.
So in my last four days I was so lucky I didn't fall even once on the dyno (even though I was never sure I was gonna do it or not). So at the end the main crux was a long move on the arete. I stuck it for three times already, but failed after that move,only three moves before a jug. There is also a bit strange crux at 15 meters, after the jug, but luckily I was very confident after doing all the hard parts, so it was just a rutine to get to the top at 22 meters.
The big weight of a DWS ascent is the fact that you have to try it from the ground every single time. If you fall on the first move. which happened to me three times, you have to wait until you're dry and try it again from the very beginning. And even when you make it very high and you fall, you can't just grab for a quickdraw and try the moves again.
Combining all this with not knowing whether you're going to stick the dyno or not, makes it a very difficult mind battle. So on some days I also had four tries. Luckily I never hurt myself too badly and my mind stayed focused.
Was being able to work it together with Jan Hojer important for you?
It was nice to meet up with Jan here. It's always easier to work on something together. For sure it would have taken me more time to send it without him...or maybe not :)
How much time did you spend on it? How many tries is it possible to do each day?
I tried it exactly 39 times (2 out of the 39 I spent on Pontax). 16 days just on Es Pontas, 4 weeks being on the island.
And... how hard do you think it is if you had to grade it?
I'll just stick with Chris' words. This thing is so specific.
For sure it's about 9th grade, but there are so many different factors. Like the dyno.
If there are 200 people in the World climbing 9a, maybe just 10% of them can do it. Then there is the fear factor. The mind battle of trying it all over again without knowing if you're able to do all the moves or not.
So at the moment I don't feel like a Superman who's able to climb all the hardest climbs in the World, but I feel lucky to have all of the skills that you need for this route.
Maybe I'm just one of few chosen guys, who can actually climb this thing.
I give a huge respect to Chris. It must have been so rad for him to realize that this thing is even possible. Spending 100 tries to catch the dyno, without knowing if the rest is possible??
That's also why I also don't want to talk about the grade. This route is one of the hardest routes in the World! And for sure not because of the hard moves...but getting all together.
Thanks a lot Jernej, and congrats once again!
Jernej Kruder is sponsored by: Scarpa