You know that feeling when you know that you are going to fall and you attempt in vain to delay the inevitable? Any sense of superiority has left you, control of the situation is gone. You don’t have enough power to climb up and you are not able to downclimb… The sensation of falling is unpleasantly creeping in… Hup! Suddenly, you fly and control of the situation is taken over by belayer and your hardware. If you did not neglect these variables – you have attentive partner, well placed knots, and you don’t use a junk harness from outhouse – you will probably get away unpunished.
„Prásknutí bičem“ (Whiplash) is a renowned Adrspach crack – known more for the beauty of its line than for its murderous potential. But, it has one sensitive spot from which it is suggested not to fall. Where? When you’re staring down the fourth ring yet you’re pumped from jamming in the overhanging and it’s oh so hard to clip…
For the eMontana crew, Vašek Krejčí fought with this legendary crack from the 70s. Feast your eyes on our new video and take a look at the story of an epic fall in the text below – there are few climbers who tried to fly from the spot described and tested their threaded sling. Ondra Neumann (the belayer) and Roman Doležal (the flyer) tell their own personal experience.
– Talking and climbing: Vašek Krejčí –
BELAYER’S PERSPECTIVE | Ondřej Neumann from Liberec
”Yeah, it’s quite an intense memory. Of course, we were really psyched to climb the route and a bit nervous too. It’s a legendary route and we had been wanting to try it for a long time. Roman wasn’t so good at crack climbing back then, so it was quite a courageous move on his part to try the route. Actually, he had only been climbing for a few years then. But, already he had quite a strong mind so he got all the way to the tough grade of seven quite quickly.
Well the start of “Whiplash” was quite fine but the overhanging crack turned out to be quite a challenge. After few moves he slowed down, then he stopped and tried to figure out what would he do next. He eventually decided that he wasn’t able to do keep going, so he decided, quite rationally, that he would take the whip. Unfortunately, he couldn’t control the flight and he went down head first.”
THE FLYER’S PERSPECTIVE | Roman Doležal from Písek
What cracks had you climbed before you tried “Whiplash”?
By then I had already done many local classic cracks. I started climbing in Ostrov and then I moved right to Adršpach. There I climbed, for instance “Papouščí spára” and , “Tréninková spára” and so on. Half of the routes in Adršpach contain some crack anyways.
Did you know anything about “Whiplash” in advance?
Well, I had only read about it in some narratives by Šmíd (see below). I had seen the photos and knew the story behind the route. And finally, I had seen the crack itself. And seeing it was the most unsettling part of it all. At first, I had wanted to climb just “Whip” (a variant without the overhanging crack) but the line was so amazing that I decided to give it a go and try the full “Whiplash”. It looked quite tempting, but I got a bit nervous just by standing under the route. (Roman under the route.)
Did you use crack gloves?
No I climbed without them. Maybe that’s why I fell (he laughs). I was already out from the overhang and I could even see the ring, it was around half a meter from my head. I was only two moves from the easy part of the route.
Did you expect that you would go flying or did you just slip?
I knew that it was coming. Instead of opening, my hands started closing. in cracks it works vice versa. (he laughs) I couldn’t open my hand enough to hold myself in the crack. I remember the moment when I realized that I was going down. “I’ll whip!” I shouted at Ondra. “You crazy?” He replied. “You will finish it,” he tried. “I won’t!” So, I went flying down and the rope turned me over. I also hit my climbing partner a bit – I landed straight on his head.
Who took the photo of this whipper?
I don’t really know – some random guys from Nové Město who went there to climb the “Bič” variant. I think they were quite desperate even at that. They were already leaving and asked if we could toss them the rope so they would follow us. So, they were waiting beneath the rock. Then they took this picture and when they saw how much we were struggling they rather left. (he laughs))
We also met a Canadian photographer that day. Craig Richard, who was there as a guest of the Climbing Film Festival. He was running around and taking photos of the area. When he saw it, he got quite captured by the line. He was just adjusting his mid-format camera when he saw the whipper I took. After all that fuss, he asked me, if I can climb a bit of that route again for his pictures. So, I did. I have that picture hanging on my wall at home. And I think that it also went to some exhibition in Milan.
What about other cracks and leading routes on sandstone after this horrendous experience?
I think I got back quite quickly. I had more respect for similar projects but nothing really bad happened so I thought it was just all right to continue. And it was a soft fall – the rope was quite long.
Did you finish the route after that?
Well, no. (he laughs) Not on that day. I climbed that route a year later.
Pavel “Alberto” Hrubý’s Two Cents
“There aren’t many people who have fallen on this route and walked away without a serious injury. So, it was pure luck.
Usually, people who fall on this are at least badly bruised and many of them came away with a concussion.
Uncle Roman was simply lucky – he could have fallen out of his harness.“
Tomáš Čada on Memory Lane
I only led the “Bič” variant – I think it was in 1983.
with the Walzel brothers, and now I’m not sure
if the overhang was climbed by Jirka or Víťa.
But I know that I was the one to climb the upper slab…
In the picture, you can see me in a hand-sewn harness and the guy belaying me is Miloš Kaněra. I guess that the one down there is Bohouš Mach.”
As we have already stated, the first ascent of this classic crack was made by Mirek “Lanč” Šmíd (a remarkable climber and a founder of the International Climbing Film Festival in Teplice nad Metují) and Láďa Šolc. In his day, Šolc was an elite crack climber – he was famous for sending the best lines – who else would dare to straighten the “Bič” VIIc route on the Jarda Beran tower, originally put up by Bohumil Sýkora and his team? In those days, there were several great climbers thinking about this line, including the legendary Standa “Cikán” Lukavský. However, Láďa and Míra were the first.
“When the slings and the wedge start dangling, that means a big overhang. This time, he climbs all the way to the edge of the overhang, his feet slip out and he hang just by his hands jammed in the crack above me. I watch what will happen, ready for his fall, holding the double rope that goes through a ring and two slings all the way up to him. History does not get repeated. Láďa confidently swings his feet back into the crack, a bit higher than before. Some leaves fall out, but soon he swings around the edge of the overhang and he disappears into the unknown. “What does it look like?” I shout enthusiastically, still holding the rope cautiously ready for anything. “Good, wait, I’ll put a ring here.” First, he puts a wedge to the rock, then I sent him a hammer via the rope because he has forgotten it. A few hollow hits. A clip of a carabiner and an exhale.
Mirek Šmíd was then to lead the final slab, which is a tasty dessert in comparison to the main course – the crack. He belayed Láďa to the top
We shake hands. “Good, right?” We feel like we’re on top of the world. We are twenty (Láďa is a bit more) and the whole world lies at our feet. Again, we discuss the whole ascent. It is clear that it was Láďa who climbed the crux of the route, I wouldn’t be able to lead that crack. But, he keeps telling me that the slab was even harder for him. You see, he’s a true friend.
We are sitting on the top and scribe the first ascent data into the logbook. Through crack along the three rings of the old route, through overhang, and a wall to the top. What should we call it? Direkta, Sunday Siesta, Direct Variant? Nothing quite fits. I know: the original route is “Bič” (Whip) so this will be WHIPLASH, right? Now, I’m not sure whose idea it was, but I guess it was Láďa’s. Finished, recorded. We climbed down to the abseiling point and each of us on a different end started rapping down to the valley. We felt just right. The golden times. Down at the entrance to the rocks, we stopped for a beer and debated for a while about the way the new rings fit and if the route will become climbed by many or not.
SÝKORA, Bohumil, LISÁK, Pavel, ed. Bohumil Sýkora: Pískaři: kapitoly z historie lezení v Adršpašsko-Teplických skalách. Náchod: Juko, 2004. Pg. 136–141.
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