German alpinist Robert Jasper has made the first ascent of a hard new mixed line at Kandersteg in Switzerland with fellow German Wolfram Liebich. Jasper has named the line Black Death and graded the route WI7/M8, along with adding his own rating of E5 for psychological difficulty.
Jasper and Liebich orginally tried the route, which is found on the North-East face of the Gallihorns, on the 8th of December but only managed to climb to the fifth pitch before benightment threatened and the pair abseiled off. They then returned just over a week later on the 16th managing to climb the route in around 8 hours. The route climbs very friable rock, with Jasper having to aid the crux pitch, placing pegs as he went before lowering to the belay and redpointing the pitch.
Commenting on the route, Robert said:
"The route was a great adventure and one of the last great lines at Kandersteg. It was scary climbing with trad protection in the brittle rock."
Jasper has created his own 'E' grade in recent times to give an idea of how scary and dangerous his mixed routes are, as some climb good, well protected lines, whereas some take on loose or compact walls where protection is poor or very spaced. The grade is, unsurprisingly, loosely based on the British Trad grade, though Jasper has made the application of his 'E' grade purely on the danger/psychological difficulty of the route.
To determine what 'E' grade each route is, Jasper rates the following aspects of the climb out of 3: Protection, Danger of Injury and Psychological Demands. He then adds up the numbers and the number they add up to equals the 'E' grade, 3 = E1, 4 = E2, 5 = E3, 7 = E4, 8 = E5, and 9 = E6.
The pitch grades of the route are as follows:
P1: WI3, PL2: WI7/ M7+, P3: M7, P4: WI4/M5 (loose, dangerous blocks), P5: WI7/M8, P6: M6+
You can watch a video of the firs ascent below:
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