Words: Ines Papert
Photos: Stefan Wiebel
After a dramatic experience on our last expedition in China where we were caught in an avalanche, Luka Lindič and I needed a break from alpinism on big mountains. On the way home from that expedition we instantly knew that we would need to “climb out” of the rut this experience put us in.
Berchtesgaden is in the Bavarian Mountains and has been my home for more than half of my life. I know the ins and outs of these mountains really well, however with the area still being new to Luka which made it really refreshing to explore the potential of climbing here together. We found exactly the challenge we were looking for. Alpltalkopf Northface (Hoher Göll Range) is a steep, rough, alpine, limestone face with an eye-catching headwall, just far enough from civilization to keep the crowds away.
We warmed up in Slovenian Alps with two serious routes where I learned about the possibilities when you are skilled using pitons – the most important protection in the Slovenian mountains. We then went back home to start our new objective high above Königssee (one of the most beautiful mountain lakes), climbing ground up and trying to use cams, nuts and pitons as much as possible with bolting being the last option.
Once we were closer to the overhanging headwall we could see a reasonable line through it. It became a crux pitch and was as difficult as I had imagined to be able to free climb. Luka did a great job on this pitch; especially at the end where he climbed into the unknown high above the last bolt. I was ready to catch a long fall but he somehow managed to stick to the last wet slab and finish it.
On the last pitch, which was my turn to lead, I started a long traverse left. While trying to place a bolt both of the skyhooks I was hanging from came off and sent me flying, head-down into the void. Luka gave enough rope to try to catch me dynamically and I protected my head with my arm. After I recovered from the shock, I felt some unpleasant pain in my shoulder – I had surgery and a long medical battle some years ago. My first instinct was, ‘No not again!!!’. After a short break I finished the pitch and all of a sudden we were standing on the flat summit with the hard work being done.
The free ascent was the nicer part of the story in-front of us. Luka managed to put the puzzle together soon enough. After he managed to climb the crux pitch, he was yelling down, “I am the happiest person, I love you so much!” It filled my heart with good vibes and I was convinced to repeat it soon. But I failed. The crux moves were so hard that I nearly gave up on the entire climb. Luka kept pushing me to try.
Patience was required and slowly my shoulder started to recover. Luka never stopped believing in my skills which meant a lot for my confidence. After a period of bad weather, we returned to the route and I started believing I could do it. On October 17th we returned one more time. The freezing cold morning made for more of a challenge to manage the first pitch and the doubts in my mind returned. But, I kept going. Not a single doubt was left when I started to lead the crux pitch. I was so close! Both of us were screaming and the entire valley was answering with an echo. The fire to climb mountains had started burning in us again.
A note from Luka Lindič:
Two years ago, love brought me to Berchtesgaden area. I immediately noticed how proud the locals are of this truly spectacular place full of mountains and lakes. At the beginning, our relationship was a bit of a target for the “sharp teeth” of some local people and after some time I started calling them Sharks of Königssee. I knew then a name for a new route we might climb one day was born. Now it’s there as a funny memory or our beginning. I am very grateful so many of the local climbers welcomed me so nicely and look forward to share climbing days in this magical place.
Sharks of Königssee
Berchtesgaden / Germany
19 Bolts in the entire Route, plus belays
FA and FFA: August – Oct. 2018