6.4 Sekunden 8b (+) MP by Katherine Choong

Monday, 13 September

Choong Katherine has made the second repeat of Mattias Trottman's 6.4 Sekunden in Engelberg. The 170m tall route includes seven pitches, out of which five, 7c+ to 8b (+). In total, it took 16 projecting days for the former competition climber to send all pitches in a day. (c) Hugo Vincent

"My main goals for 2021 just came true 🥳 For sure one of my proudest ascent so far and the one that pushed me the most to go beyond my mental & physical limits! I led all the pitches but what a fight it was to manage to send all of them in a day."

Here is the full story:
Due to the COVID-19 situation, all the world cups in the summer of 2020 have been cancelled. This left me completely free to focus on rock climbing for the first time in my 15 years with the Swiss team. After having done some difficult single pitch routes in the last years, I wanted to do and learn something new. For about 2 years, I started to do more multi-pitch routes. The challenge for me is much more complex. I had to learn how to manage the physical and mental effort on all the pitches of the routes, the handling of the ropes as well as the fear of the high of course which uses a lot of energy.

But what is particularly interesting in this form of climbing is the relation with your partner, I feel like you share much more with your partner that leaves you amazing memories. The trust in one's partner must be complete in order to reach the top of the route together. The objective was for me to push my limits again in terms of difficulty but also in terms of the fact that climbing multi-pitch routes is a facet of climbing that I do not yet fully control and that challenges me in another way.

It took me a long time to follow this climb this route, a total of 16 days and it was only around the 14th day that I started to feel comfortable and that I send one of the 7 pitches…The first day we started with my boyfriend Jim Zimmermann. The 2nd pitch, the most difficult on the paper, moves seemed doable to us. But just after that on the 3rd pitch (8a+) we got totally stuck in the crux! Nothing to do, we will not see the rest of the route and we had to rappel down. Really disappointed and frustrated, I wanted to give up the project. Finally, remotivated by Matthias Trottman who tells me that this is certainly one of the most difficult movements of the route, we tried again and rappelled down into the route directly with a static rope to try the rest of the route. The pitches are vertical, technical, the movements seem to me too reachy for me and I was not able to climb more than a few movements in a row without taking rest. Not to mention the long run-outs sometimes in loose rocks that paralyzed me with fear! Then, over the days, I manage each time to unlock a section or two, although some movements resist me again and again, especially in the 8a+.

I finally find a good beta for the 8a+ that gives me hope. Until the day I broke this famous hold. After trying for more than 20 minutes to find another solution without success for this section, I was close to giving up again on this project. I go back anyway, supported by Jim, despite the rainy and foggy days that seem to get stuck especially between the Titlis and the Fürenwand and after a few weeks break, I rather feel like I have regressed in the route. Doubt is again settling in. All the rock is extremely humid and some passages are completely wet, which doesn't help to work the sections that still resist me. And then the sun came back. At the end of the 14th day of work, I finally climb one of the pitches, the 7c+, and I find again a new method in the 8a+! Everything seems possible again...

Thursday 09.09.2021, 5:30 am. I get up to leave for Engelberg with my friend Andy Winterleitner. Nothing predicted a sending day. The rain on the approach step soaks us completely, and the rock seems humid again. I start on the 6c, continue directly on the 8b/+ with a lot of effort, aiming to reach at least the crux, a random dynamic move after a long and tiring overhang. And then, surprise, it goes through! The sending machine mode is launched, the stress and the pressure are creeping into my head. I clip the chains of the 8b/+! What a joy! But I know that I still have an 8a+, two 8a, a 7c+ and a 7b to do, knowing that I have never managed to send most of these pitches. But considering the fight I had in the 8b/+, I might not be able to do it again soon. However, I go back down to the bottom of the 8b/+ to belay my friend Andy who would like to also try to send the route and then climb the 40 meters with the jumar again. Each pitch is a huge fight, I feel that I lose strength with each move. My head is taking over my arms which are screaming at me to let go. I know that if I want to have a chance, I have to get it all in on the first try. The rain continues to fall and I am obsessed with the fear that the last few pitches will become soaked and unclimbable. The pitches follow one another, the goal is getting closer and closer, meter by meter. I would like to rest more between each route but time is also short, the last cable car leaves at 6pm and the desire to walk back under the rain does not motivate me.

And finally, I reached the top, completely exhausted but filled with happiness to have succeeded in this great challenge. This route, whose every length seemed impossible to me, which made me doubt and almost give up many times, will remain in my memory forever as one of my best performances that made me push my mental barriers and get out of my comfort zone again.

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