Scottish climber Robbie Phillips has completed the 'Alpine Trilogy', a trio of the hardest multipitch sport climbs in Europe, by ticking Des Kaisers neue Kleider 8b+ in Austria.
The trilogy consists of three routes put up in 1994 by three climbing legends of the time, Beat Kammerlander, Thomas Huber and Stefan Glowacz. To complete the trilogy, climbers must tick Silbergeier 8b+ in the Swiss Rätikon, End of Silence 8b+ in the German Berchtesgaden Alps, and Des Kaisers neue Kleider in Austria's Wilder Kaiser.
The final piece of the puzzle for Robbie was Des Kaisers Neue Kleider, also the hardest in the trilogy. Robbie and his partner, Austrian climber Mich Kemeter, had been battling poor weather for the best part of July and early August, which diminished their hopes of completing the climb. However, an unexpected weather window opened during one of their recce trips and the pair decided to make a push on the route. Although a storm was forecast, the team experienced cooler temperatures and a breeze.
The pair started their push around 1pm and by 9pm they had successfully topped out. Robbie had dreamed of climbing these three lines since he was 15 years old, when his climbing mentor Neil McGeachy told him about the trilogy.
In 2015, Robbie made his first attempt at the trilogy by traveling to the Swiss Rätikon to complete Silbergeier (UKC news). He returned two years later in 2017 to try and complete both End of Silence and Des Kaisers neue Kleider joined by fellow Scottish climber Calum Cunningham. The pair faced difficult conditions, unseasonably hot weather and unpredictable Alpine storms, which threatened their chances. After a failed attempt and an injury sustained, chances were looking slim for the team, but in a last ditch attempt for End of Silence, Robbie managed to scrape his way up to complete the second of the trilogy (UKC news). Unfortunately the setbacks on End of Silence had pushed the team's schedule back and any thoughts of making an attempt on the final climb of the trilogy were quickly fading. When they reached Des Kaisers neue Kleider short on time and with little hope of a weather window, Robbie decided to wait to return to the Wilder Kaiser another year. Returning to Austria in July this summer Robbie had one goal in mind: to finish the trilogy. He commented:
'Even now after a few days since the ascent, the realisation of what I've done flits between excitement and surrealness - sometimes I just can't believe I did it! There was mixed feelings; of course elation at having succeeded in a life goal, but also a sense of deflation, as it was the end of a long process of dedication to training spurred on by the desire to complete it.'
'Completing the trilogy was extremely challenging for me - I'd say I've learned more in attempting them than probably any other climb, and the challenges I've faced in overcoming each climb have been significant. For sure they didn't go down easily!'
Robbie is now looking ahead to new challenges by returning to Yosemite this autumn to complete his fourth free route on the famous El Capitan. Later in 2020 he plans to attempt the high altitude Eternal Flame on the Trango Towers in Pakistan.