Bad runouts and 30-meter falls: Louis Gundolf frees Projekt Lama (250m, 8c +)

With Projekt Lama (22m, 250c+), the 8-year-old Tyrolean climbing professional Louis Gundolf not only frees one of the most difficult multi-pitch routes in the world, but also one of the last projects that exceptional climber David Lama left behind.

Project Llama (250m, 8c+) is located at 2.400 meters above sea level on the Laserz south face in Lienz, East Tyrol. Overhanging terrain throughout and very poor protection characterize the line that David Lama Opened 2013 to 2014 with a few partners and a lot of solo and free climbed to the key length rated 8c+. On August 14, 2023, the young professional climber succeeds Louis Gundolfto complete this project and climb all the pitches free.

10 years after the first ascent by David Lama, Louis Gundolf manages the first free ascent of Projekt Lama (250m, 8c +). Image: Matteo Mocellin
10 years after the first ascent by David Lama, Louis Gundolf manages the first free ascent of the extremely demanding multi-pitch route Projekt Lama (250m, 8c +). Image: Matteo Mocellin

«I successfully walked the route together with my dad and mountain guide Alfred Dworak on August 14, 2023. Although I was often on my own during project planning, i.e. with the converted Grigri – it was difficult to find partners who “only” went with me all day to belay,” says Louis Gundolf after his first ascent of Projekt Lama. 

Frightening falls

The difficulty of the route is to free climb all lengths. That was also a key point for Gundolf: «I just never quite managed to recover from the route before on the wall. There were also very frightening falls, as the intermediate belays were sometimes very far apart."

My longest fall was 30 meters

Louis Gundolf

That's why he only went with good colleagues and belayers who knew what they were doing and whom he trusted. «Thanks again to all KIOTs in East Tyrol for all the support and the warm welcome into your little community!»

In Projekt Lama (250m, 8c+) there are just four bolts - even if you are in the best mental condition, you need a few additional "friends". Image: Matteo Mocellin
In Projekt Lama (250m, 8c+) there are just four bolts - even if you are in the best mental condition, you need a few additional "friends". Image: Matteo Mocellin

Project Lama: Overhanging, badass, sparsely secured

Project Lama leads through the Laserz south face in continuously overhanging terrain. At a wall height of approx. 250 meters with 8 rope lengths each, there are just four bolts on the route. The route is mostly to be secured with chocks and friends. Some of the hooks struck are still made by David Lama himself.

In a similar vein, 100 meters to the left of Project Lama is the Safety Discussion route, known for its exposure and notorious for being a mental challenge. Louis Gundolf is used to the ascent and the rocks. As one of three people worldwide, he completed it with Jonathan Lechner in the second attempt in 2021. The first ascent was made in 2012 by David Lama. 

Louis Gundolf Portrait
With Projekt Lama, the 22-year-old professional climber Louis Gundolf has free climbed one of the world's most difficult multi-pitch routes for the first time. Image: Matteo Mocellin

Mentally fit enough for risky climbing

With the successful completion of the Lama project, the 22-year-old from Pitztal in Tyrol sets the next milestone in his career. Louis Gundolf used every free minute for this: "I tried the route for the first time last spring and, when there was no team training or competitions, I always drove there with my old Golf to climb the route."

Last fall, the point was reached for the first time when I realized that I was mentally fit enough and could climb freely and risk-taking in alpine terrain as well as in sport climbing.

Louis Gundolf

But he wasn't physically ready yet. "So I used the winter to train as much as possible for my competitions, but I always had the Lama project in the back of my mind."

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Credits: Cover picture Matteo Mocellin

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