Heiko is one of the most innovative and creative climbers around. His drive for first ascents is truly astounding and, thus far, his passion for exploration shows no sign of abating.
Home is Gräfenberg, right in the heart of the beautiful Frankenjura in Germany. He was born in 1981 and started climbing at the age of 14. Heiko was initially absorbed by classic alpine routes, but after a few years the lure of bouldering and sport climbing became too much. He found that the intense fingery climbing of his local area suited him well; as Heiko puts it himself: "My thick fingers fit the Frankenjura pockets perfectly!"
Spotting and climbing new lines is a particular talent of Heiko's, a talent that has lead him to establish a staggering number of new boulder problems and routes in the Frankenjura. At last count the figure was around 700 new boulder problems and 300 new routes. Heiko likes to search out new projects when he is travelling too - his tally of first ascent boulder problems abroad (particularly at one of his favourite places, Ticino) is equally remarkable and stands at around 200 currently.
Picking highlight problems from such a huge roster is difficult but some lines can be seen as extra special. For example, Natural Speed, a V12/ Font 8A+ traverse and Wenn er fällt dann schreit er! V11/Font 8A, both in the Frankenjura, and Conquistadors V12/Font 8A+ at Tessin in Switzerland. There are many classic sport routes too, such as Big Boss F8a and Ich kam, sah und seigte F8a+, again both in the Frankenjura.
Heiko's initial focus was on new boulder problems and sport routes, in recent years he has shifted his attention to more adventurous aspect of the climbing game, namely highball bouldering and traditional bolt free routes. In 2010 he made the first 'clean' ascent of Magnet, a bolt free F7c+. Even one of his stand out sport routes, Freitag der 13, an unrepeated F8b line, has big fall potential.
This trend continued through 2011 and 2012 with ‘greenpoint’ ascents of Chasin’ the Train UIAA 9/F7c at Krottenseer Turm and Kurt Albert’s Magnet, Germany’s first grade 9 from way back in 1982. He even climbed an entirely new trad route - Dragon Mouth is an E7 with a physical standard of F7c/+.
On the highball front he has climbed top quality lines such as Im Zeichen des Highballs V6/Font 7A and the impressive and bold Guardian Angel V11/Font 8A.
Remarkably, given his frenetic output, Heiko is not a full time climber. He also works in the Kletterladen Toni Weiß climbing shop in Nuremberg and does stints of freelance instructing, either taking kids climbing or caving in the Frankenjura area. That being said, the flexible hours give him plenty of time to hit the crags and explore new territory.
"Ever since I started bouldering I am looking for new projects, new lines, new first ascents. I started with sport climbing and bouldering and have been moving on to trad/clean climbing and highball bouldering. My motivation for setting up new routes is also to leave something of value behind, to move into the unknown, to create and establish routes and boulders worth repeating."
"There is no move too crazy, too hard, too complicated. Go for it. Try it. Over and over again. It's about the journey, the time you spend on a project together with a bunch of good friends. At the end of the day I try my very best to be open-minded to tackle new challenges and new styles of climbing."
"A very special ascent was Freitag der 13 F8b where we had to fix several crashpads to the rock face behind it to set up protection for possible whippers and crashes. The route is still unrepeated."
NB. In the Frankenjura many of the routes feature pockets, and sometimes these can seep, rendering them un-useable. The local climbers have developed an ingenious trick to overcome this problem. Check out this film of Heiko where he shows how it’s done.