A few days ago, the Swiss climber managed the first ascent of The Back of Beyond (9a) route in Soyhières.

The line in Soyhières was set up by Phillipe Steulet in 1989 and remained in project status for a long time until Alexander tube took the route seriously. The young man from Bern describes the route as one of the last major lines in Switzerland and talks about what fascinates him about the line.

An interview with Alexander Rohr

What kind of line is it?

Bei The Back of Beyond it is an old project that was drilled in by Phillipe Steulet. Having had a fatal accident, he never really got to try the line. Later, the German Thomas Kraus decided to shorten the route and drill a stand under the last key boulder.

However, the whole line remained unclimbed until recently.

This opened up Jusqu'au bout du monde and Kraus also got the first ascent of this 8c. However, the whole line remained unclimbed until recently.

Where is the route located?

The line is in the left and slightly longer part of Soyhieres. It is located to the left of the classic Mines de Rien (8b +), which also comes from Steulet's pen.

Alex Rohr on the first ascent of The Back of Beyond in Soyhières. (Photo Hannes Kutza)
Alex Rohr on the first ascent of The Back of Beyond in Soyhières. (Photo Hannes Kutza)

How did you come up with The Back of Beyond as a name, what's behind it?

The route name is a play on words with the name of the first length (Jusqu'au bout du monde) and my friend finally gave me the idea for the name of the complete line. Jusqu'au bout du monde means “until the end of the world”. I was wondering what comes after the end of the world? For me the answer is: “The great indefinable”. And so the name The Back of Beyond was born. It's a British phrase for “in the middle of nowhere”. It also rhymes with the name of the first length.

When did you look at the line?

I had known about the project for a relatively long time. But I thought it was better to wait until I feel strong enough. You have to be able to climb the lower 8c length fresh. It's not that simple, as it only has one resting point in the lower half.

You climb the remaining 28 meters of the route at full throttle and without resting.

The remaining 28 meters of the route you climb full throttle and without resting and then run pretty unrestrained into the ~ 7C + boulder after the stand of the first length. I tried a couple of days in early November and then took a short break as the temperatures were pretty high. Two weeks ago I had the breakthrough and decided to stick with it. After a few tight attempts, it finally worked on November 24th in the third attempt of the day.

Why the line?

It's always nice to finish something unfinished. In addition, this is a really special tour for Swiss standards. Most of the time, the difficult routes here are rather short and rather boulder-heavy.

The Back of Beyond reminded me of lines that you always hear about or try abroad, but never find here.

The Back of Beyond reminded me of lines that you try abroad but never find here. 28 meters long only heavy trains and only one resting point is special and a style I've started to like.

What was the key to success?

The key to success is always the same: stick with it. Especially with this route it can be very difficult. If you get out of the 8c, you can forget about it anyway. So it boils down to constantly climbing the entire first length and falling out in the last difficult moves after a lot of climbing. It only helps to pull yourself together and stick with it.

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Credits: Cover picture Hannes Kutza