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the end of silence

  • Barbara Zangerl is the first woman to climb“The End of Silence”.

The Feuerhorn near Reiter Alm in Berchtesgaden, Germany: that’s where the Huber Brothers wrote climbing history with four severe routes on the compact north face:
Siddhartha (IX-), Monstermagnet (IX+), Firewall (X+) and The End of Silence (X+).

Completed in 1994, “The End of Silence” belongs together with “Silbergeier” (by Beat Kammerlander) and “Des Kaisers neue Kleider” (“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Stefan Glowacz) to what is known as the Trilogy, the three top routes in the Alps that are celebrated and discussed by the climbing scene as well as by their first ascentionists. In addition to athletic placement of protection and challenging climbing in grade 8 and 9, “The End of Silence” also presents a special challenge in terms of endurance: the climber doesn’t reach the crux, which is grade 10, until the top of ninth pitch – small underclings, side pulls, tiny edges and subtle footholds in the overhanging rock make completing the route all the more difficult. Even today the climb is rated one of the most difficult alpine free climbing routes.

Nearly two decades later, “The End of Silence” is still one of the most important routes for Thomas Huber: “That route matured me, I grew up with it,” he says. Since childhood he had big plans for ascending a route on the grey-black overhanging Feuerhorn north face.

The four mighty “Huber classics” around Reiter Alm continue to attract new challengers, such as Barbara Zangerl, who last summer was …


On the 9th pitch she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown: “It looked really bad, I could manage the individual moves, but linking them together seemed impossible,” remembers Barbara Zangerl. The 24-year-old had put “The End of Silence” right at the top of her wish list for 2012. You need to have one big project every year, reckons the climber from Tyrol. In June she headed to Berchtesgaden for the first time with her climbing partner Emanuel Falch. The year had started well with her claiming “Super Cirill” (8a/8a+, 9 pitches) in Ticino/Switzerland and “Delicatessen” (8b, 5 pitches) on Corsica.
The first contact with Feuerhorn turned out to be a complete flop. Following a two hours approach with heavy backpack – climbing kit and provisions for three days – and a bad night at the foot of the wall, Barbara started climbing: “I thought that quickdraws would be sufficient for an alpine sport climbing route.” She found out that they are not enough on the 3rd relatively easy pitch: “A neat crack dihedral where you could place good protection, if only I’d had a couple of Camalots with me.” With poor protection set on the five pitches behind them Barbara and Emanuel decided to bail. They lugged the heavy backpacks back downhill.

There were many times that they ran back up the approach, always taking removable protection with them. Now that the Camalot problem had been solved Barbara could fully concentrate on “The End of Silence”: “It’s a smooth wall with few holds, only just as many as you need,” she says. It made it much easier on the lower easy pitches not to continually have to think how many metres she was above the last bolt. The crux doesn’t come until the end, where after eight pitches you still need a great deal of strength, concentration and strong nerves. She took four days to climb the tough boulder problem on the 9th pitch.

She didn’t give up. And on the 1st of August the big day came: Barbara was the first woman to manage the redpoint. “The End of Silence” – one of the most difficult alpine sport climbing routes – is now on her list. Her statement: “It’s cool the way Thomas Huber set up that route.” Thomas Huber: “I was so pleased about Barbara’s redpoint because you could sense how happy it made her.“

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