If the Belgian professional climber Sébastien Berthe has his way, numerous difficult multi-pitch classics in the Alps are massively overrated. He calls for discussion - reactions followed immediately.

Silver vulture and Headless Children in the Rätikon, The Emperor's New Clothes in the Kaiser Mountains, End of Silence in the Berchtesgaden Alps, La Voie Petit at the Grand Capucin, Odyssey on the Eiger, Carnet D'address in Rocher du midi, Tarrago in Montserrat, Nice view at the western pinnacle and The Fly near Lauterbrunnen.

The Belgian describes these difficult and - in many cases - often traveled tours Sébastien Berthe as massively overrated in their level of difficulty.

“I don't want to hurt or shock anyone with what I'm saying here. I just want to express my opinion and speak publicly about a topic that has been on my mind for a long time.

In his opinion, the routes would have to be devalued by a complete degree in most cases, especially the most difficult pitches, i.e. the key lengths. The easier pitches are usually adequate. Strong climbers did not have to wait long to react.

Image Damien Largeron.

For me, the easy and the difficult pitches in the routes mentioned, especially in the routes of the trilogy, felt more difficult than most sport climbing routes of the same degree.

Babsi Zangerl

Babsi Zangerl is one of the strongest climbers in the world. Together with your partner Jacopo Larcher she committed numerous difficult multi-pitch routes in Europe and in Yosemite Valley. She concludes her response to Sébastien's Instagram post with the following comment:

Maybe you're just so damn strong !!!

Babsi Zangerl
Babsi Zangerl in the sequence Changing Corner in The Nose on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley. (Image Alex Eggermont)
Babsi Zangerl in the sequence Changing Corner in The Nose on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley. (Image Alex Eggermont)

Other commentators, such as the young climber Connor Herson, also agree with this vote. Arnaud Petit, the first to climb the La Voie Petit route on Grand Capucin mentioned by Sébastien, agrees with the downgrading of the heaviest pitch from 8b to 8a +. In the case of the silver vulture, however, he disagrees.

I only know two of the routes mentioned and I fully agree with 8a + on the Grand Cap. In the case of Silbergeier, however, I have the feeling that 8b + fits.

Arnaud Petit

Cédric Lachat speaks up

Instead of commenting on Sébastien Berthe's contribution, the Swiss professional climber Cédric Lachat published his own article in which he explains his point of view.

Cédric Lachat visiting Cadafist. (Photo Julia Cassou)

Devaluing a route always involves the risk of devaluing the performance of the first climbers and repeaters, even if this was not the intention. Cédric writes:

“Routes are being devalued more and more often and I'm not talking about Siebe and Sébastien here, but more generally about the climbing scene. It is important to be honest with yourself and to accept devaluation, even if it affects your own performance.

In some cases, however, it goes too far and the question arises as to what the motivation behind the devaluation is. Is it the fear of being devalued if you don't rate it 'hard' enough? Or is it even about posing as a strong climber?

Again, I am not addressing these words and questions directly to my Belgian friends with whom I have spoken openly about them. And apart from that, I'm also a person who sometimes devalues ​​routes and expresses my own opinion transparently. To close the topic: Sometimes the discussion about the level of difficulty just goes too far.

UPDATED
Sébastien Berthe in an interview with Lecomte Alpinisme & Randonnée

In an interview with Lecomte, Sébastien talks about the Freyr climbing area and says that the rating in this historic area is his reference for rating routes in other areas of the world.

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Credits: Cover picture Julia Cassou

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