Shortly before the massive restrictions caused by the Corona crisis, the Kärtner Stefan Köchel got an inspection of the dream iron iron in the Malta Valley. LACRUX spoke to Stefan about his ascent and shows the video of his ascent.

While some climbers like Stefan Scarperi Within a very short time climbing the boulder iron, others invest a lot of time and patience in the boulder. So does Stefan Köchel. He made over 50 attempts to get through.

Stefan Köchel in an interview with LACRUX

You put a lot of time into inspecting the iron boulder. Why exactly this line?
My answer in a nutshell: The overall package for the iron is simply unbeatable: A line that is significant in terms of contemporary history, aesthetically at the top end of the scale, first started by Klem Loskot and also relatively difficult. Thomas Fichtinger put it this way: "You don't climb the iron because of the grade, but because it is the iron."

"Back then it was of course unthinkable to ever try it, but it was a source of motivation for me and those around me."

Stefan Köchel

But actually I have to go back a little, because the ascent has a long history. When I started climbing, Iron was practically “the hardest boulder in the world” and everyone was talking about Klem Loskot. Last but not least, the video by Martin “Mungo” Hanslmayr was partly responsible for the fact that the boulder burned itself into the climbing consciousness of my generation. At that time it was of course unthinkable to ever try, but it was a source of motivation for me and those around me.

Years later, together with David Schickengruber, I had the opportunity to document Nalle Hukkataival's first ascent of the sitting start. The shooting was the first real point of contact for me. The video productions with Jakob Schubert and Kilian Fischhuber reinforced my motivation to try the original line myself. 

Nalle Hukkataival and the start of the boulder iron

How many sessions did you invest in the boulder?
Unfortunately, I can no longer understand that exactly. If I had to guess I would say 50+. In the spring of '15 I slowly started to try the individual trains, but with the 4th train it took until autumn '17. From then on it was clear to me that I would stick with it. It could have worked out in the 18/19 season, but the time windows with good conditions were always too short for me. In December '19 I drained on the edge and had to keep trying until March 15th.

What was the key to successful transition in the end?
Perseverance. If you try a line longer and want to climb it, it takes on a different status. This is the case with every project and you have to deal with it. I think that is also one of the reasons why many people do not enjoy planning so much. Failure plays a very big role in climbing anyway, but this factor becomes even more important at the performance limit.

"Failure plays a very big role in climbing anyway, but this factor becomes even more important at the performance limit."

Of course, a high level of frustration tolerance can do no harm. Neither do specific training. But I'm not a training world champion and I prefer to climb much more than I train. To keep motivated while training, I need a goal on the horizon. That's why I always had the iron on the fingerboard and the pull-up bar in the back of my mind. Ultimately, however, fitness is only one component. Good conditions, enough time and skin, as well as the right attitude, the others.

Stefan Köchel inspecting the iron boulder in the Malta Valley

Iron from Stefan Koechel on Vimeo.

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Credits: Cover picture Stefan Köchel / Fresh Air Film