The Austrian Bernd Zangerl succeeds in the first ascent of the boulder Il Colonel (sit) in the Italian Valle dell'Orco.

In the year 2015, before the momentous accident, climbed Bernd Zangerl the start of the boulder Il Colonel (8a +). However, the aesthetic line continued to cast its spell over Bernd. He wanted to finish the sit start of the boulder. But an accident while bouldering thwarted his plans. Contrary to all medical prognoses, Bernd fought his way back to the rock. LACRUX spoke to the likeable Austrian about his project in the Valle dell'Orco and his accident.

Interview with bouldering pro Bernd Zangerl

When did you start to configure the seat start?
In the spring of 2015 I have the wild highball in the Valle dell'Orco (Italy) 29Dots opened. In between I repeated Il Colonel (8a +). But the line was not yet completed, so to speak. I immediately looked for "breakpoints". The seat start was obvious, only in between there was little to hold on to.

Bernd at the first ascent of the Highball Boulders 29Dots

How many sessions did you invest in Il Colonel?
I made Il Colonel on the first or second try. I tried to start sitting in the following days, but didn't really have an assignment. It was just an idea. At the end of 2015 there was an accident, in 2016 rehab, in 2017 I wasn't in the Valle dell'Orco and in 2018 it rained me, which is why I was only able to plan for a few days. In 2019 I was in the small community of Noasca for a total of three weeks. After a rainy week, I was on the project under good conditions. So all in all, I invested a few days.

What fascinates you about the line?
This piece of rock is one of the most beautiful granite blocks I have ever climbed. It's great that Niky Ceria has built a jumping-off area there, so that the part becomes "boulderable" at all. Il Colonel is a diamond under the boulder lines, in the truest sense of the word. The line passes right through a very overhanging intersection. A line can not be clearer. She screams to be climbed properly.

The intersection of the Il Colonel boulder in the Valle dell'Orco. (Photo Stefan Kuerzi)

From the beginning I was fascinated by the two tough single passages. For one “grip”, if you want to call it that, you need a lot of imagination and tension in order to build up pressure at all, and in the end you have to dynamize from the mini break point to the next grip.

How heavy is Il Colonel in itself and how difficult is the start of the game?
Sauschwer. The Stehstart was rated by Niky Ceria I believe with 8a +. The seat start is schauschwer and the whole zusammenzuhängen also.

Evaluating the three additional moves is incredibly difficult. Quite apart from that, I don't care about the degree after the protracted injury - actually before - too. The boulder is one of my absolute highlights. It is the joy of all the difficulties that I have mastered up to the ascent that fills me. I'm happy that I managed the line and that's why I don't want to think about the level of difficulty.

"My thoughts are already on the next projects."

Bernd Zangerl

Four years ago you suffered severe boulder injuries. 2017 you have with Into the Sun make the climbing scene sit up and take notice. Now you are going to do Il Colonel sit. Do you feel 100% fit again?
Yes, I'm 100% fit again. And there is more. After this walk I am just incredibly motivated to get even stronger and to train hard again. In my mind are still a few dreamlines saved, which I still want to implement.

100% is fit again. (Picture Bernd Zangerl)

In an interview you said that you had at times - and forcedly - toyed with the idea of ​​not climbing in the future. Now you're climbing a lot again and at a high level. Can you imagine a life without climbing right now?
I did not play with the idea of ​​stopping climbing, but with top-class sport. Climbing, bouldering and going to the mountains will always be a part of me. And if I can not go the hardest way to the summit, then there are other ways to reach the summit.

No pain no gain. (Picture Bernd Zangerl)

How did the long injury time change you?
I have dealt with life and depression and got to know each other better in this way. Only through such extreme situations and drastic experiences is man forced to deal with himself on a deeper level. Then the interesting and heavier aspects of the character come to light, which may otherwise lie dormant for a lifetime beneath the surface of man.

Through this accident, I learned a lot about body and mind. My perspective on injury, rehabilitation and medicine has changed a lot. I broke new ground in medicine and continued my education. Neuromedicine is still in its infancy, so to speak.

"Faith moves mountains, that's what I want to pass on to people!"

After the best doctors have prophesied that I will never be able to boulder again, I am as strong as before. Even a bit stronger on the injured side, where I lost all the climbing muscles.

Thank you very much Bernd for your inspirational words and your openness. Keep crushing!

Bernd Zangerl on the first ascent of the Il Colonel boulder in the Valle del'Orco

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Credits: Cover Picture Ray Demski / Red Bull Content Pool, other pictures Stefan Kuerzi


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