The Swiss Obed Hardmeier manages the red point ascent of the Schwarz Mönch route near Gimmeldwald. Level of difficulty levels off at 9a/+.

It is high season in many climbing areas in Europe and so we receive a corresponding number of reports - most recently from Swiss climbers Obed Hardmeier. He succeeds in repeating the route Black monk at gimmelwald, one of the most difficult sport climbing routes in Switzerland.

The conditions were almost perfect and I was able to climb the route on the first try. I was overjoyed and quite relieved that it worked out before the end of the season.

Obed Hardmeier

Finding such perfect conditions is not a matter of course, because Hardmeier is by no means a professional climber who can grab the rope and go climbing on the ideal climbing days. The 28-year-old started a full-time master's degree at ETH Zurich in September and still works part-time.

The fact that physical fitness, meteorological conditions in the area interact and that he also has a day off is a challenge in itself. His most recent ascent is all the more impressive!

Obed Hardmeier during the red point ascent of Schwarz Mönch in Gimmelwald. (Picture Edition Filidor)
Obed Hardmeier during the red point ascent of Schwarz Mönch in Gimmelwald. (Picture Edition Filidor)

The route Schwarz Mönch was designed by Berner Sascha Lehmann first climbed in June 2020 and rated slightly more difficult than 9a. Quite the opposite of many other routes, Schwarz Mönch was upgraded after the first repetition. Marco Müller secured the red point ascent of the Gimmelwald test piece on August 24 last year and gave the rating 9a+. "Schwarz Mönch is significantly harder than all 9a's I've done so far," said Müller. Another inspection goes to David Firnenburg, who rated Schwarzmönch 9a.

Degree levels off at 9a/+

So until recently it wasn't quite so clear how difficult the route really is. And clarity does not prevail even now. Because Obed Hardmeier writes on request: “Black Mönch is significantly heavier than Jungfrau Marathon and Alpenbitter [both 9a] – further inspections should clarify.” Grade 9a+ is therefore not confirmed. In any case, it is certain that Black monk is one of the most difficult routes in Switzerland.

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Credits: Pictures Edition Filidor