In the middle of August Graubünden's Dave von Allmen opened a new boulder in the Swiss bouldering area Magic Wood: Shazam.

Given the many existing lines, one might think that the potential in Magic Wood has been exhausted. This is not the case, many active climbers prove again and again. One of the most active climbers in the Magic Wood is the Grisons Dave von Allmen.

A few weeks ago he succeeded in the first ascent of a new line in Magic Wood - a damn long line. The new Boulder Shazam is a highball because the exit is about ten meters above the ground. We spoke to Dave about his latest coup in Averstal.

When did you discover the line?
In addition to trying some of my heavy projects (potential first ascents as well as established problems) I am constantly looking for new lines. The massive wall above «New Base Line»Was always present for me, but so far never a concrete goal. Since it is currently often too warm for the really heavy stuff, I decided about two weeks ago to visit the wall again.

The wall is 10 meters high and rather structureless.

Dave von Allmen

On that day we only walked a few minutes along the wall and tried to see lines. The wall is around 30 meters wide and has potential for several new lines in addition to the existing old lines. Recognizing this from the ground is extremely difficult and takes a bit of imagination, as the wall is almost 10 meters high and, on the whole, looks rather unstructured. That's why a week later I just roped down the wall and started cleaning. Cleaning and finding a sequence through the wall was the content of the next three days. The line was only effectively “discovered” at the end of this hard work.

When did you start planning the line?
I always tried sequences while cleaning. However, these have always changed over the days, as certain sequences could hardly be put together. On August 15th I started to try a specific sequence on the rope, which could be climbed from a difficult mantle a few meters above the ground to the exit. I then optimized this sequence to such an extent that on Saturday 17.8 I felt so far without climbing a rope.

You have to do the moves absolutely perfectly.

Dave from Allment

After a few attempts, I was able to climb into the mantle from the start on the ground and then do it after something. After the mantle you stand on small steps that are quite okay in the slab and have one of the most demanding passages in the whole forest in front of you. The handles are small and the steps even smaller. You have to perform these moves absolutely perfectly so as not to tip over from the slab (and get closer to one of the largest trees in the forest). At this moment you have to focus absolutely on the bare minimum and go through the plan ice-cold and perfectly. Falling in the plate is not an option. That's why I decided to jump off in a "controlled" manner.

When exactly did you climb the line?
After this jump it was clear to me on the one hand that I could climb the line, on the other hand I realized that I had to be better prepared mentally. So after this attempt I packed up and drove home to prepare myself mentally. This process is difficult to describe and, despite the calm that one may exude, very intense. The next day, Sunday 18.8.2019, early in the afternoon, I have «SHAZAM!» then first ascended.

I packed up and went home to mentally prepare myself.

Dave von Allmen

With what difficulty do you judge the line?
«SHAZAM!» is clearly the heaviest and, above all, technically and mentally most demanding highball that I have climbed so far. Such a line with such diverse requirements can hardly be assessed in the classic sense. The mental aspect and the perfection that this type of climbing demands is completely neglected in the usual assessments of the pure "difficulty", but here they are essential components of the "difficulty". If I have to pack all of that into one bouldering grade, the answer is 8a + / 8b. 

Where is Shazam?
"SHAZAM!" Is located about forty meters above «Zilliman» near «New Base Line».

What tip do you give to potential repeaters?
No flash attempts. It's best to come with me when I try the right seat start linkup there, then we have more pads. Seriously, I had no spotters or Pad Sherpas with me. While one was tedious, the other was "stupid." I know exactly what I do and hope, anyone who dares to such lines, does that too. Spotters can not do much with "SHAZAM!", But they can be important if something goes wrong! To find spotter with this information is another matter.

Video: Dave von Allmen at the first ascent of the highball boulder Shazam in Magic Wood

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Credits: Cover picture Dave von Allmen / Video