INTERVIEW: Fabian Buhl

Fabian Buhl, 77 kb
Fabian Buhl
© Philippe Ribiere
27 year old Fabian Buhl, or Fabi as he is better known, from Oberstaufen, Germany, is one of those who seems to be good at everything.

Although I only know about his climbing skills, but I'm pretty sure he's a 9a skier as well and wouldn't be surprised if he's a fabulous dancer. So... anyway, let's concentrate on the climbing.

To give you an idea of his abilities in various disciplines, have a look at this list of what he's achieved so far:

Bouldering: Dreamtime, ~8C, Cresciano, Le Boa, ~8C, Switzerland
Sport: Frontman Deluxe, 9a Allgäu, Germany
Trad: Psychogramm, 8b+, Prinzip Hoffnung, 8b+ E9/10, both at Bürs, Austria
Multi pitch: Nirwana 6 pitches, 8c+, and Ganesha 7 pitches, 8c, FA and redpoint solo, both at Loferer Alm, Austria
Winter solo: Wetterbockwand, Hohee Göll, Austria, as well as solo redpoint in summer
Highball: Ambrosia, Too big to flail and Old Greg within one week

Recently, he visited Bishop to try some highballs and left with an impressive triple.

I managed to catch up with Fabi for a few questions between long flights and big powder turns.

Alright! I'm very interested in knowing where your drive comes from. It seems you're exploring how far you can get in all aspects and disciplines climbing can offer, from bouldering to bigwalls and from physical to mental. Tell me about it!
So, it is pretty simple, my drive comes just from the joy of movement and being out in the beautiful mountains. Here is where I grew up and what still makes me the most happy.

And the conditions are not always good for only one discipline, so I try to change constantly, or just go by the day, if it's good for skiing I go skiing, if it's good conditions for bouldering, I go bouldering. And in summer most of the time alpine climbing.

This constant change keeps the motivation high and keeps the whole climbing thing quite playful for me.

Fabian Buhl on Old Greg, 8A highball, Bishop, CA, 139 kb
Fabian Buhl on Old Greg, 8A highball, Bishop, CA
© Mélissa Le Nevé
You're now in excellent bouldering shape. Is there a huge difference in your over all climbing ability depending on what you are focusing on at the moment, or is it more like you feel the single moves or sequences on bigger climbs are always easy for you?
For sure there are times when I have a certain project, then I try to focus more and also train for it. Otherwise I could not have climbed Le Boa, 8C [first and only repetition of this Fred Nicole boulder from 2011] this spring, there is just sometimes projects that are harder than my all round level, then I need to invest a bit more, but in the end it's worth it! And like that I can always try to push my personal limit in each discipline, I like to see this steady progress it keeps me motivated.
Right now I am lighter and did a lot of no foot training that Melissa was putting on me, so my power just increased a lot for bouldering.... The alpine or multi pitch climbs are anyway always way below my single move strength, there it is more about keeping it together...

The higballs you repeated at Bishop, what was that about?
Well, I really wanted to try the highballs in Bishop, I knew my head is quite strong so I wanted to see how crazy it really is.

In the end, the climbs themselves are not super hard and 'Ambrosia' and 'Old Greg' are pretty controllable.

'Too big...' is just very sketchy climbing. Especially because I am shorter and therefore could not always use the better footholds... The smeary sequence I used for the entire top part, was mentally very challenging, because the point of contact with the wall is just very small... So even on top rope I fall, if I make a mistake.

But after climbing it a few times, I knew if I kept it together nothing would happen. In the end I battled for 30 min with myself until I started, but then I climbed every move very confidently and it felt flawless.

It was a very nice feeling and I think in this sort of style I could climb way harder with more preparation on the route.

Fabian Buhl on Too big to flail, ~7C+/8b, Bishop, California, 147 kb
Fabian Buhl on Too big to flail, ~7C+/8b, Bishop, California
© Stefan Schlumpf
I guess when you climb a thing like that, you simply either feel in total control, or you fall?
Yes there is a bit of margin, because I know I can climb it, but if i make the slightest mistake, then I fall just because it is too insecure. I think the climbing can be compared with 'Tough enough' [8c multi pitch] in Madagascar.

I think there are plenty of 8b+ routes I would climb more in control than 'Too big to flail'.

Finally, I have to ask you about your soloing, ans specifically winter soloing. How's that enjoyable?
Pushing the limit in winter and relying on yourself is hard but also very joyful and rewarding for myself. I really like the feeling of being on my own and every thing I do has a consequence, either good or bad, but there is nobody I can blame. We tend to give a lot of responsibility to other persons and lose the ability to trust ourselves.

And this is something you enjoy not only afterwards, but also when your doing it?
yes sure I enjoy it also while doing, I want to put my idea into reality, if I would not enjoy the hard work and the suffering during a winter alpine climb, then I would not do it.

Thanks Fabi! Keep doing what you're doing, and be safe!

Fabian Buhl is sponsored by: adidas, La Sportiva and Petzl

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