The Jura resident repeats the route that Matthias Trottmann started in 2005 for 6.4 seconds (170 m, 8b / +) on the Fürenwand. After she didn't have a stitch in the key point, she took courage - and was able to score points. In emotional terms, she records why this is the greatest climbing achievement of her career to date.

As is well known, no competitions took place in summer 2020 due to the corona, Choong recognized her opportunity in the gap: "For the first time in 15 years I could only concentrate on rock climbing."

The goal was quickly set to climb more multi-pitches again. “What is particularly interesting about this type of climbing is the relationship with your partner. I have the feeling that you share a lot more with your partner, great memories remain. The trust must be complete in order to reach the summit together. "

"This route, which seemed impossible to me in any length, which made me doubt and almost give up many times, will forever be remembered as one of my best achievements."

Katherine Choong

The goal was to go to your own limits: both in terms of difficulty and the mental challenge in multi-pitch climbing - a discipline that Choong says he has not yet mastered completely.

Almost given up

It took Choong 16 days to climb the route - it was only after two weeks that she slowly felt comfortable on the wall, she emphasizes. The crux length seemed feasible straight away, but immediately afterwards on the third pitch (8a +) she was born. “There was nothing to be done to get over this position. Disappointed and frustrated, I wanted to give up the project. "

Katherine Choong in the Fürenwand. Video: Hugo Vincent

First ascent Matthias Trottmann was able to donate new motivation by assuring that it was probably the most difficult single point on the whole route. So Choong and Jim Zimmermann (their rope and life partner) rappelled down with a static rope directly from above to explore the rest of the route.

“The climbing is technical, the moves are long. I couldn't do more than a few movements without pausing. Not to mention the runouts in loose rock that paralyzed me with fear! "

A difficult mental process followed. Although Choong was able to decipher a few sequences over and over again, he then lost heart again. Mainly because she still didn't see any land in the 8a + length. The damp wall and the fog creeping up from the valley did their part, she writes. But then the sun came back - and with it hope.

“At the end of the 14th day I finally climbed a 7c + pitch and found a new method in the 8a +! Everything seems possible again! ”Then everything suddenly happened very quickly.

A race against time and the rain

Everything came together on September 9th. Choong writes:

“Nothing indicated an ascent. The rain soaks us completely on the approach and the rock looks damp. I start with the 6c length. In the following 8b / + I set myself the goal of simply reaching the crux: a dynamic pull after a long and tiring overhang. Completely surprisingly, I can climb the length straight away. What a feeling!

But I know: the tricky 8a + still follows, then 8a, a 7c + and a 7b. I have never made most of these pitches before. In fact, each of the pitches is a struggle. I feel like I'm losing strength with every pull. My head takes over my arms screaming at me to let go.

"My head takes over my arms, which are yelling at me to let go."

If I want a chance, I have to do every length on the first try - otherwise the strength won't be enough. It's raining. The higher we get, the more I fear that the upper pitches might be too wet. Meter by meter we get higher, I would like to take more breaks, but time is also running out. The last cable car leaves at 18 p.m. - we definitely don't want to walk down in the rain. Finally I reach the summit, completely exhausted, but full of happiness to have mastered this great challenge.

This route, which seemed impossible to me in any length, which made me doubt and almost give up many times, will forever be remembered as one of my best achievements. A challenge that made me overcome my mental barriers and leave my comfort zone. "

Information about the route:

  • 170 meters, 8b / +, Engelberg, Fürenwand
  • 7 pitches: 6c, 8b / b +, 8a +, 8a, 8a, 7c +, 7b
  • Opened by Matthias Trottmann in 2005
  • First free ascent: Matthias Trottmann 2006
  • First repetition: David Firnenburg 2019
  • Second iteration: Katherine Choong 2021

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Credits: Cover picture Hugo Vincent