David Fitzgerald has climbed Bügeleisen (8B+) in Maltatal and Big Paw (8B+/8C) in Chironico. David worked the problems over two trips, struggling with the weather and the difficulty, but quickly became obsessed with climbing both.
David told UKC "back in November I briefly got to try the stand start to Bügeleisen. Unfortunately, the rain came soon after I arrived and I didn't get another chance to try it. Bügeleisen sits beneath a cliff and once it gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry out. I went to Switzerland for a few days afterwards and on the first day, I managed to make a quick ascent of Boogalagga (the stand start to Big Paw) in Chironico. Simply out of curiosity, I had a quick look at the sit start, but soon realised just how hard it would be to link those four extra moves into the stand start."
Once home, David immediately booked a return trip in March with the sole intention of finishing Bügeleisen and Big Paw.
"They're two of the proudest lines in Europe. They're very imposing and difficult. Once I realised that, I became obsessed with wanting to do them both. When you stand beneath them, they just tower over you, which is what I look for in a project. I also hate leaving behind unfinished business, so I knew I had to return as soon as I could."
Suffering from a cold and split tips, David got close on his first session back on Bügeleisen. He took two days off to recover:
"I was then able to tape up and climb without too much pain, which was good enough for me. After a few attempts, I really noticed that I wasn't climbing fluidly at all. My nerves were in complete control, so I took thirty minutes to relax in the sun and when I stood back into the shade, everything just connected perfectly at the right time."
After his success in Maltatal, David went to Switzerland to try the one thing that was on his mind: Big Paw.
"In my spare time, I would constantly think of ways to make my lower sequence more efficient. In the end, it came down to a few small adjustments that made the full link conceivable. Whether it was a small repositioning of the heel or a short exhale at the right moment, it all seemed to add up. At one point during my second session, I managed to escape the opening moves and have a decent stab at the crux move. It was only then that I realised it might be possible to do during this trip."
"I eventually had every move refined to perfection and when it all came together, it felt effortless. It's funny how that can happen sometimes. In total, I had three sessions on Big Paw, as well as one short session on the stand start back in November. I feel this is one of the hardest lines I have ever climbed, certainly the hardest I've climbed abroad. I thought about climbing these lines for so long, that when I finally did top them out, everything felt very satisfying, yet familiar. Obsession pays off, it seems."
David's still in Switzerland but running out of time. He's hoping to try Nalle Hukkataival's Ninja Skills (8B+) before he leaves. He also plans to head back for the sit start to Bügeleisen (8C), which has only seen ascents from Hukkataival and Jacob Schubert.
David's trip is being filmed by the Puzzleglass team and the film should be out soon.