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La Sportiva presents ‘FREE’ a film about Big Wall climbing in Yosemite with Jorg Verhoeven and Katha Saurwein


La Sportiva athletes Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein tell us about their latest achievement in Yosemite Valley, when last November they free climbed Dihedral Wall (5.14a / 8b+) and Final Frontier 5.13b (8a)

Yosemite Valley, one of the world’s premier climbing destinations, is a place where rock climbing history was made and is constantly rewritten, a place where year after year aspiring big wall climbers make the pilgrimage to climb the massive granite walls. Free climbing is nothing new to Yosemite, nor is it to Jorg Verhoeven, who claimed the 4th free ascent of "The Nose", one of the most famous routes in the valley. Eager for more, Jorg came back to Yosemite, and this time his wife Katha Saurwein, an excellent boulderer and worldcup climber, joined him with the same goal in mind: to free one of Yosemite’s Big Walls!

I’m deadly afraid of heights!’ says Katha, ‘I wasn’t really sure whether I would have a good time up on the wall. Towards the end of the trip I didn’t feel like coming down anymore, I just loved the feeling up there`.

Jorg explains ‘We both picked a project that we set our minds on, and supported each other preparing a free push. We alternated working our routes, Katha on the north side of the valley, me on the south side. One day we froze, the other we baked…’

Katha chose "The Final Frontier" (5.13), a steep 11 pitch route on the Fifi Buttress, while Jorg was aiming for the long awaited second ascent of Tommy Caldwell’s "Dihedral Wall" (5.14) on El Capitan.

Jorg has freeclimbed El Cap several times now, but recalls that this time he had to go all in. ‘Climbing "The Dihedral Wall" took everything I had; it kicked my ass day after day. A great challenge, but one that was almost too tough.’

‘We worked like horses, each day carrying gear to the base of the walls, jumaring up to the point where we wanted to work some pitches, climb until the last daylight, to finally fall asleep in our tent completely exhausted. Jorg knew this from previous trips, I still had to get used to it!’

‘That moment Katha climbed the last meters to the top of "The Final Frontier", I could see the exhaustion in her face, but her eyes sparkled with pride and joy. That is what it’s all about, the reason we do stuff like this!’

This is the story told by La Sportiva and “Louder Than Eleven”, a story about overcoming fear, perseverance, partner support, but most of all about the beauty and joy that brings forth freeclimbing.

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