On December 24, 2017, the Uri professional alpinist Dani Arnold climbed one of the most difficult and dangerous ice climbing routes in the Alps, Beta Block Super (WI7) on the Breitwangfluh, Free Solo Speed. Why? Dani Arnold answers this question herself in the following guest post.
Most spent Christmas Eve preparing for Christmas Eve. Not so Dani Arnold. The 33-year-old alpinist went on the free solo speed tour of the ice climbing route Beta Block Super (W17). Dani has never climbed the route before and climbed in without a rope. He only had a small backpack with material for the descent. The visit was completed by Dani in a record time of one hour and three minutes.
A guest post by Daniel Arnold
Why did I climb one of the most difficult and dangerous routes in the Alps without a rope and as quickly as possible? This question is difficult to answer, and a few days later I don't know for sure. But what is certain: It was my big goal and a dream to do this one day. I don't want to play down the risk and the great danger, I also love my life. But I also love my dreams and ideas. And that's why it was important to me and I'm proud of it. Point.
Everything was as it should be
I've never climbed this route before. The conditions have to be perfect. There are many winters when too little water or it flows in the wrong place over this wall. Then it is impossible to climb the route. On December 24th, 2017 everything was as it should be. With the photographer, I ran up to Breitwangfluh above Kandersteg. Then I started climbing alone. Always with the option to turn back or break off. It is very important for me to always have this option. I try to push out as long as possible the point where it only goes in one direction - upwards.
Full concentration is needed
But then the time had come: in the key rope length, on this approx. 35 meter free-standing ice column, there was a small overhang in the middle! Carefully hit both ice axes higher and then stand on the outermost icicle with the crampons. From this point on it was clear that there was no going back. That would have been too risky. But it wasn't a question for me either, I felt fine and kept climbing to the end of the wall. I had to be very focused on almost 300 meters, not “just” to avoid falling off. When climbing without a rope, you can't make a careless mistake. For example, how many times have I dropped an ice ax out of carelessness? This would be absolutely fatal in this situation. So it didn't matter how fast I got up. I just couldn't make mistakes. That was the most important thing for me. When climbing free solo, you don't wear a climbing harness or use any securing devices. To get back down I had brought a small backpack with me, in it was a rope, climbing harness, carabiner and ice screws.
Beta Block Super was a big dream
For me, this project has a very high priority. I love the ice cream. It is not just another record for me, but an absolute highlight. I have realized one of my very big dreams. Of course, the world has not changed because of that. My life and my joy in the mountains is still the same. That's a good thing, because it's all about being healthy, happy and satisfied!
Video report about Dani Arnold's ascent