The Fly 5.14d (F9a) in Rumney © Peter Würth
Alex has risen quickly through the ranks of German climbers to become a globetrotting superstar of the modern climbing scene. His phenomenal sport climbing achievements place him as one of the most important climbers of this exciting era.
His tally of grade 9 routes is ever increasing, with super fast ascents of test pieces and projects at crags all over the world. In 2013 he made history by becoming the first person to onsight a F9a. He has also bouldered up to 8B+ and is responsible for one of the most difficult multi-pitch routes in the world, the twenty pitch, Fly F8c, in Switzerland.
Alex was born in 1993 and started climbing when he was five years old. Spurred on by his father’s enthusiasm for outdoor activities, he was soon absorbed by climbing, bouldering, mountain biking and trail running.
Like many top climbers in the modern generation, Alex found an immediate affinity with competition climbing. Aged 13 he took part in the Bavarian Sport Climbing cup. The following year, in 2007, he was Bavarian champion. The successes kept on snowballing and in 2008 and 2009 he was German youth champion. In 2009 and 2010 he won the European Youth Cup, and in 2010 he gained second place in the Youth World Championship in Edinburgh.
“During those years my focus was on competition climbing, which doesn't mean that I just trained in the gym. Outdoor climbing was, is and will always be more important for me, as it contains more fun and allows a more relaxed lifestyle.”
Alex lives in Erlangen in the Frankenjura; having world class limestone crags on the doorstep has certainly helped to stretch his considerable climbing talents.
In 2007 he climbed his first F7b+ (Freche Füchse at Zamonien) there and three months later his first F8a (Zwei Musketiere at Soranger Wand) on his third go.
On the first ascent of J.F.O. F8c+, Kalymnos © Simon Montmory
One year later he flashed his first F8b: Commando Madrid at Les Perxes on Mallorca. Then in the spring of 2009 he clocked up his first F8c, Drive by Shooting back home at Bärenschlucht in the Frankenjura – remarkably this went down on his third go! Four weeks later he climbed Pain makes me feel stronger every day F8c+ at Glocke, again in the Frankenjura.
Mind boggling improvements continued and in 2010 Alex onsighted La Pietra Murata F8b+ in Massone, Arco. The legendary Frankenjura route, Wallstreet F8c was despatched in only five tries. During his first trip to Kalymnos he climbed the first ascent of Fake Friends F8c and Keep Going F8c, and topped it all by onsighting Trous dans l’air F8b+. A second trip at the end of the year produced an equally impressive roster of ascents: Lucky Luca extension F8c (second go), Barabuk F8b+ (onsight), Nadir F8b+ (second go), Glaros F8b (onsight), Gaia F8b (onsight), Labyrinth F8b (second go), Rendez with Platon F8a+/b (onsight) and...phew(!)...StormPU F8a+ (onsight).
During 2011 he continued to snap up hard routes in super quick times. In the spring he climbed his hardest route to date: Shangri-La F8c+ in Schlaraffenland, Frankenjura. Then he topped it all by flashing another Frankenjura test piece: Raubritter F8c, and repeating the F8b (E8/9?) bolt-free trad route, Archon at Circus Maximus crag.
In 2012 Alex continued to produce impressive ascents, such as a flash of Roof Warrior F8b+/8c at Universum crag and a redpoint of his first F9a, San Ku Kai on Entraygues, the fierce sport crag above Briançon.
Evilution V11, Buttermilks © Vera Warmbrunn
Towards the end of the year he set off on an extended road trip around the US. Stimulated by the wealth of new climbing opportunities, Alex responded accordingly. First up was a four day redpoint of Dave Graham’s bouldery test-piece, The Fly 5.14d (F9a) in Rumney. Next a shift to Red River Gorge saw a rush of hard repeats, including four F8c+s, all completed in super fast time, three F8b+s climbed onsight and Pure Imagination, his first F8c+ flash.
In the Buttermilks Alexander fired off some hard boulder problems, including a flash of Blood Meridian V12/13, Mandala V12 and the ultra highball Evilution V11. In Hueco Tanks he climbed a series of desperates: Terre de Sienne V13/14, Crown of Aragorn V13, Crown Royale V13, Slashface V13, Sôl Adûnâmentum V13 and Nagual V13.
A few months later Alexander was in Siurana rattling through well established test pieces, such as A Muerte F8c+/9a, La Rambla F9a + and Jungle Speed F9a with unnerving speed. Most notable from a historical point of view was his onsight of Estado Critico, the first F9a in the world to be climbed in such a style.
Throughout 2013 and 2014 Alexander climbed a large volume of hard routes in the Frankenjura; in fact he did fourteen in the F9a – F9a+ category, including an astonishing two hour ascent of the infamous Action Directe and five first ascents (Classified F9a/+, Dicker Bert F9a, Nice Freshly Baked F9a, Modified F9a+ and Janus F9a).
He was travelling too, picking off routes such as The Groove Train 33 on the Taipan Wall in the Grampians, La Bongada F9a and La Ley Innata F8c+/9a at Margalef, La Rubia F8c+ in El Chorro and the second ascent of To tu jeste nebyl F9a in the Elbsandstein area of the Czech Republic. During a trip to Kalymnos in October 2013 Alexander added seventeen new routes from F8a+ to F8c+.
Throughout this frenetic period Alexander had always kept an eye on his bouldering. On visit to North Wales in May 2013 he made the first ascent of Das Pumpenhausen Testpiece 8B at Porth Ysgo. In the Grampians in Australia he repeated The Wheel of Life V15 and then added a harder first ascent in the same cave named Wheel Chair – due to the length of this problem Alexander chose to give it a route grade of F9a+.
Early 2014 he had a very successful trip to Ticino and Magic Wood with Wiz Fineron. Highlights of the trip included Dagger 8B/+, Great Shark Hunt 8B, Santoku 8B, Steppenwolf 8B and Never Ending Story 8B+. In April he made the first ascent of Bad Boys for Life 8B+ in the Frankenjura.
Estado Critico F9a, Siurana © Miguel Catita - havista.com
In March he came over to the UK to compete in the CWIF (Climbing Works International Festival competition); he gained a second place and spent some time sport climbing, ticking various classics such as Mecca F8b+ at Raven Tor and the Unjustified F8b+/c, Bat Route F8c duo at Malham.
In June he showed his skills could branch out onto big walls when he made the first free ascent of Fly, a twenty pitch F8c in the Lauterbrunnen valley, Switzerland, yet it was his one day/third try ascent of Realization F9a+ at Ceuse which really turned heads.
Back home in the Frankenjura Alex had another special day, climbing three F9as, two of which were first ascents. Check out the story behind Geocache, his most involved first ascent.
With such an astonishing output the mind boggles at what he will do next!? Whatever it turns out to be, his place in the history books is already guaranteed.
“Something I have learned in my climbing years is that time management is really important, but the most important thing is fun. It's not worth training hard for a good result in a competition or to climb a hard route, if on the other hand you lose the fun which climbing should be. It doesn't matter if you have climbed the route or you've won the competition. When you feel like chilling or doing something totally different, just do it. Sooner or later you will find your way back to climbing because it's simply the best sport on earth.”