Erik Svab sticking the third ascent of Illuminati (M11 WI6+, 5 pitches), Val Lunga-Selva Gardena, Italy. With Klemen Premrl he completed the climb on February 16, 2008. That same month he sent Europe’s hardest drytool line, Law and Order (M13), Diebsofen, Austria, and Empire Strikes Back (M10+, 4 pitches), Val d’Aoste, Italy. His ascent of Empire on February 23 completed his mixed multipitch “trilogy.” [Photo] Klemen Premrl
This winter Italian Erik Svab was again busy scratching his tools into Europe’s hardest mixed climbs. In February he sent Law and Order (M13), Empire Strikes Back (M10+, 4 pitches), and–most strikingly–he made the third ascent of Illuminati (M11 WI6+, 5 pitches), considered the continent’s crown jewel of difficult, multipitch mixed climbs.
Illuminati, first climbed by Austrian Albert Leichtfried in 2006 and repeated by Florian Riegler earlier this winter (read more about the second ascent in the March 7, 2008 NewsWire), recently has eclipsed two other Italian testpieces: Jedi Master (M11, 5 pitches), which Svab climbed with Slovenian Dejan Miskovic in February 2007 for its second ascent, and Empire Strikes Back, which he completed with Slovenian Lovro Vrsnik a week after sending Illuminati. Svab is the first to climb the three–what he calls “the trilogy”–in pure style, spurless and rotpunkt: leading the climb ground up in a single push.
Competing on ice and climbing Europe’s hardest drytool routes over the past few winters gave Svab the confidence to attempt longer lines like Jedi, Empire and Illuminati, which he called “committing–not only physically, but also mentally.”
Hanging out on Illuminati (M11 WI6+, 5 pitches). [Photo] Klemen Premrl
“For me [completing the trilogy] was a dream,” he added, “a transposition of the hardest and best things that I have learned in the short ‘sport mixed’ routes to hard multipitch lines.”
Each trilogy ascent required different skills and conditions, Svab said. Jedi is generally well protected but hard and sustained; Illuminati’s sun-exposed ice requires perfect conditions and a speedy ascent; Empire has poor pro on Pitch 1, harder-than-expected climbing on Pitch 2 and ground-fall potential on Pitch 3.
“A trilogy is a symbolic achievement that stimulates other climbers to do similar things all around the world,” Svab said. “It points the way for the future of modern mixed climbing; I think my next step will be to find steep walls where ten to fifteen pitches of M10 and M11 will be possible, all in traditional style, without bolts. That’s my goal for the upcoming seasons–so if you know where there might be a wall like that, let me know!”