On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, Jacopo Larcher succeeded in repeating the Trad route Into the Sun in the Murg Valley for the first time. The route was first walked by Bernd Zangerl four years ago.

A personal report from Jacopo Larcher

After the expedition to Pakistan I felt the need to concentrate on single pitch routes and boulders, at least for a few months. No jogging, no long days in the mountains. Just rock and (for me) difficult climbing moves.

Recently, I was particularly interested in discovering different aspects of trad climbing. Within the same discipline there is a multitude of different, sometimes contradicting styles that make trad climbing so exciting for me.

When I read about Bernd Zangerl's first ascent of the route Into the Sun in 2017, I became curious. It seemed like the route was different from any other trad route that I have tried or seen so far, which motivated me immensely to look at the route. I like it - and I think it's important - to look at and try other first ascent. It is inspiring and refreshing to experience the vision of others, possibly to step out of your own comfort zone and to be open to new possibilities. Everyone sees something different when standing in front of a wall or block and has different approaches. This diversity advances our sport and ourselves.

Jacopo Larcher in front of the block with the Tradroute Into the Sun. (Photo Andrea Cossu)
Jacopo Larcher in front of the block with the Tradroute Into the Sun. (Photo Andrea Cossu)

This autumn I finally decided to go to the Murgtal and try Bernd's route. To be honest, it was my first visit to the Murg Valley and I was incredibly impressed by the tranquility and beauty of this valley. The sharp rock is not what you want for climbing, but the nature and the tranquility make this place special.

The Tradroute Into the Sun is located on a gigantic block with numerous bouldering lines and runs completely from the bottom right to the top left. Actually, Into the Sun is an exit option for the Boulder Very Important Parrot, which ends at a drilled stand.

The exit of the route Into the Sun. (Photo Andrea Cossu)
The exit of the route Into the Sun. (Photo Andrea Cossu)

After letting go of the booth bolts, traverse to the left to an obvious crack and get out on the other side of the boulder. This last section has already been climbed as a highball with a different start. Climbing is easy, but the rock is often damp and doesn't always seem solid, which is why securing with mobile safety devices makes more sense for me.

After the first session on the route, I had a good feeling because I was able to climb the long boulder problem in two sections. The last moves of the bouldering problem became a challenge, I had to invest several sessions and a lot of energy.

The route was not only a challenge in terms of climbing. (Photo Andrea Cossu)
The route was not only a challenge in terms of climbing. (Photo Andrea Cossu)

Quite apart from the climbing difficulties, the conditions were a particular challenge. Due to the fog, the starting grips and kicks were mostly damp and so the rest of the route was mostly climbed with wet climbing shoes and hands. The regular assignments as route setters often made it impossible to drive spontaneously into the Murg Valley when the conditions were right. But that motivated me all the more to get the most out of the days when I was able to plan the route.

"Quite apart from the climbing difficulties, the conditions were a particular challenge."

Jacopo Larcher

After falling several times on the last difficult move, the day before the big snowfall - and thus the end of the season - I managed to make my first attempt. In perfect cold conditions. It was an absolutely brilliant feeling. To be honest, I'm glad I climbed the last section with mobile protections because my fingers were completely numb and I felt absolutely nothing in my fingers when I had to do the last mantle.

Highball or Tradroute? Impressive vision! (Photo Andrea Cossu)
Highball or Tradroute? Impressive vision! (Photo Andrea Cossu)

Now everyone is asking me whether Into the Sun is a highball boulder or a trad route. How can that be determined? For me personally, another question arises. Do we have to give everything and everyone a name and put it in a drawer? I don't think so!

For me, Into the Sun is Bernd Zangerl's vision to climb this line in his own way. It was his approach to challenge himself and find his way back to climbing after long struggling with an injury that doctors predicted he would never climb again.

"It was Bernd's approach to challenge himself and find the way back to climbing."

Jacopo Larcher

He overcame this huge challenge for himself and created a new challenge for everyone. I accepted the challenge, found it damn tough, and thoroughly enjoyed the process. In my opinion, this is exactly what climbing should stand for. Another would have drilled or chipped the route, and yet another would have climbed it free solo or maybe not climbed at all.

Bernd Zangerl on the inspection of Into the Sun

I think Bernd did it in exactly the right style, just as I would have climbed the route if it had been my first ascent. The only thing I would have done differently is the start. In my opinion it would have made more sense to start the route standing up instead of adding the difficult moves at the beginning. But once more: That's exactly what is ingenious about climbing, everyone sees a line differently. Thank you Bernd for this experience on the route and for you first ascent. And thank you Babsi, Mauro, Andrea and Michi for the support. Without you it would not have been possible.

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Credits: Cover picture Andrea Cossu