Sehnsucht 9a/+ by Roland Wagner (41)

Friday, 15 January

Roland Wagner, who did his first (and hitherto only) 9a in 2015, has repeated Klem Loskot's Sehnsucht 9a/+ in Salzburg Land. (c) Flo Scheimpflug

”first tried the route in 2018, and then again in 2019. Momentum was really starting to build in 2020 and the last couple months my life basically revolved on and around the route. As I wrote in my scorecard, somehow putting it all together felt incredibly hard - both physically and mentally. I never tried so hard for anything before.

It took me a total of 30 days to send Sehnsucht, which translates to something like 'longing, desire, or yearning'. In the end, I 'only' had to wait for perfect conditions and just like that, months of longing came to an end. The 30m route was first ascended totally under the radar (like lots of other hard routes and boulders) by legendary Klem Loskot in 2013. Trying the route was an amazing process that reminded me why climbing always was and hopefully will be such an important part of my life. I felt in shape in 2018, but couple injuries and setbacks in 2019 really made me doubt whether progress was possible at 40. Now being 41 I'm certain it is! I also wanna shout out many thanks to Maddie for her support - she's always there with me, rain or shine. Many thanks also to all the other people who came out, shared their motivation, and made this an awesome time.”

So how can you explain sending your hardest route 40+? 1) I think there's always so many aspects to climbing a hard route. First and foremost, I believe it's about motivation, an obsession if you will. It's crazy what's possible once you really set your mind on it. And I really, really wanted to climb the route. It's a beauty.

2) I'm always amazed by people ticking 8Cs left and right supposedly by climbing barely two days a week without any structured training. For me, that's certainly not the case. A typical day in the last weeks leading up to the send would look like a mellow 10k run plus some callisthenics exercises, followed by an hour and a half of yoga (I started practising 10 years ago), then an hour and a half of near max bouldering at my climbing wall (partially with a weight vest), and finally some weighted pull-ups, hangs, and core exercises. The next day I would spend on the project, and in the evening I would do more strength exercises (though at a reduced volume). Then repeat the circle for a total of 5-6 climbing days per week. Sometimes I would even go back to the crag on rest days and climb a ton of easy pitches just to get a better feel for the rock (I must have spent hundreds of days up there). It's important to say that I really build-up to this regimen. So I felt in some sort of balance or equilibrium, gaining just a little bit of fitness with each and every day. It was also paramount for me that other aspects of my life were in order (I feel that's certainly not entirely in our hands and needs a bit of luck and the right timing - see below).

3) Staying injury-free was key. It for sure needed a little bit of luck and I do believe it needs a bit of luck in general to send your hardest route. In the summer I had some elbow issues and I stumbled upon a nice vlog from Dave MacLeod were he concludes that systematic and daily strength exercises solved the problem for him. And it actually solved it for me as well.

4) Being at the right place at the right time. It ties in with what I mentioned about the extra bit of luck I needed. We had a bomber fall, followed by an exceptional winter. Sunny days on end, with cold and dry conditions. We barely got any snow in the mountains so far, and that's very unusual. It also seemed like perfect timing cause it's supposed to snow all week.

5) Inspiration: I just recently watched the pipe masters (surfing is another passion of mine) and saw Kelly Slater being 48 making it all the way to the semis. A word-class performance enabled by exceptional talent, but also by a never-ending will to improve, experience, and a healthy lifestyle. I also enjoy watching all sorts of climbing movies, for example, Magnus' incredible displays of strength. Or all the young local crushers! I mean they are doing one-arm pull-ups with 50 pounds extra. That really helps against becoming complacent and thinking that one's strength levels couldn't be improved.

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