In May this year, Alex Luger added the bold and technical Psychogramm (8b+) to the Bürser Platte (Vorarlberg); in a similar trad style to its famous right-hand neighbour, Prinzip Hoffnung (8b/+, E9/10) - Alex repeated that route at the end of 2009.
A Beat Kammerlander video of what it took for Alex to make his project a reality, including first ascent footage, is now online. In it Alex describes the serious nature of the climb, translated as a "nimbus of a death route", and how he employed a two belayer system to try and reduce the ground-fall potential.
For the first four days he managed the crux just once in ten attempts making for frustrating progress. But on his fifth session he made a breakthrough by top-roping the route free.
As for the difficulty, Alex said: "It's difficult to rate because it's a very bouldery crux. It's just a number for me and has not much importance for the experience of the climb and everything around it if it's just 8b or harder. It's demanding and was worth investing the time and energy. I am interested what future climbers think about the route. For me it's a dream line in terms of difficulty and clean climbing with trad protection."
For the linguistically challenged when it comes to understanding Austrian, here's a rough summary in Alex's words that will give you the gist of what he's saying in the video.
"The fifth session was a great step forward. My whole thinking and focus was just on the climb at this time. I played through the worst case scenario in my mind. What will happen if the protection rips? Is it worth the risk?"
"The last protection before the run-out crux is an IMP (brass micro-nut). If this placement rips out I was concerned that piece after piece will rip out."
"I didn't feel physically very fit when I decided to lead the climb but the moment felt right and I started to climb. I placed the last nut, fell, the rope caught my fall, the protection held, the plan paid off. But I didn´t know if the protection would hold my fall if I am three metres higher? This route obsessed me."
"During the climb I was like a robot, everything went automatically, placing the pro, I was just focused on the next move, placed the last protection and went through the crux."
You can read more about Alex's adventures on his blog at alex-luger.blogspot.co.at
In October, Alex is off to the sandstone towers of Utah for a month and reckons: "We will get our ass kicked on the sustained desert cracks but I'm sure we will enjoy the suffering. After I plan to do some travelling in Europe and hopefully the ice grows better than last season!"