Around a month ago, Swiss professional alpinist Roger Schäli managed the first red point ascent of the multi-pitch route Merci La Vie on the Geneva pillar. LACRUX spoke to Roger about the inspection and the creation of the route.

A conversation with Roger Schäli

When exactly did you score the route?

On July 12th, 2020 I was able to climb the route, accompanied by Fred Thyler, rotpunkt.

The Eiger is your second home. What did the first red point ascent of Merci la Vie mean to you?

The route means a lot to me. First, because I started the route a long time ago (first pitch) and then, like working with Sean Villanueva and Nina Caprez originated. It's super cool that we were able to set up the route in this strong team and thus open it.

I was motivated to climb the red point route.

Sean was in a great climbing shape in the past and gave everything to climb the route red point. So I knew that it would be difficult to climb the route freely. I was accordingly motivated and focused to plan the route again as soon as the 2020 season starts. So of course I am very happy that I was able to climb the route red point.

Can you describe the route for us?

In terms of distances and security, it is certainly the most difficult route on the Geneva Pillar at the moment. The first pitch is around 50 meters long and is 6b +. This is followed by a length in the area 7b +. The third length is the strongest length of the tour in area 8a. This pitch would certainly be a classic if it were in a climbing garden. Heavy moves, strong, wide.

The difficulty of the fifth pitch is not easy to estimate.

Then comes a tricky 7a length and the fifth length is the hardest single point, whereby a boulder has to be mastered over a stomach. After the key point there is a crack that has to be climbed in trad style. The difficulty of this length is not easy to estimate. The sixth length is an endlessly long and technically demanding pitch in the 7c + area, which you have to secure yourself over and over again. This is followed by a challenging 7b + and an easy eighth pitch.

And how difficult do you think the fifth and most difficult pitch is?

It is very difficult to judge. The overall difficulty is very persistent, as is the security, of course. But you can't mix that up. If the route is cleaned, tickmarks are attached, the exes are hanging, then it's probably an 8a.

I'm curious what Nina says. I'm currently on the route with her and I hope that she will soon score on the tour.

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Roger Schäli and Sean Villanueva in the route La Vida es Silbar