Rumor has it that the first ring in this forty-meter wall was boldly hammered there by the daring Ilja Špitálský. However, the overhanging wall stopped him from climbing further. Later, when Petr Mocek was finishing the route with Vašek Cajtháml, the former dropped his hammer while he was placing the ring, it hit Cahtháml into his head and he had to go to the hospital right away…
“Of course that’s just a legend. Had he dropped the hammer, that would be the end of it,” remembers Petr Mocek in the famous Kalírna pub in Adršpach. “He dropped the hand drill, but of course that is heavy as hell.”
“And you can only think that the first ring was placed by Špitálský if you’re not a local pub person. Of course, it was Joska Čihula, who did it (a Czech climbing legend of the 60s). In 1969, I met with Franta Kroupa, who started the route with Čihula back then,” says Mocan. By that time, Čihula was already gone – he died in an avalanche in Tatras in 1966 and Franta Kroupa lost his motivation without his climbing partner and decided not to finish the route. (On Czech rocks, there was a rule – if you start a climbing project, you have 5 years to finish it without other climbers trying the route.) “So I just went to meet this guy, brought a bottle of strong spirit and a three-liter glass of pickled sausages. And I asked if we could finish the route after them. Franta agreed.”
– Martin „Padas“ Padera talking –
After Mocan and Vašek Cajtháml got the permission from Franta Kroupa they decided to go for it the very next day (Thursday 1 May 1969). Mocan got to the ring, put a sling into the big flat hourglass and said: “Who on earth was so stupid to put the first ring so low?” Then he tried climbing past it to shift the ring a meter higher in order to secure the crux better. In that very moment, Petr Prachtel appeared just around the corner, climbing solo “Bič” (The Whiplash) and said: “Come on, leave the ring where it is. I will try it!” He shouted across the gap.
Prachtel felt positive about that wall because his wife Zorka had told him that the wall would be climbable, and he did manage to get through the lower crux without moving the ring. “I can still see him carrying all these tiny slings, paracords and various gear for sling placing. You wouldn’t believe it, he put there two of these shoelaces, held those tiny crimps as if they were jugs and suddenly was past that crux. His speed was unbelievable.”
Thus, Prachtel solved the first crux of the route and placed the second ring – it was the first time he was hammering a ring. He is said to claim then: “Continue guys, I don’t want to do first ascents.” (The very next year, he got obsessed by first ascents and today the number of his routes goes beyond 2600). So he abseiled down to the ground. “And we went to a local shed to drink wine. Both white and rosso.”
The following day, all of the climbers in the game met again at the foot of Amerika tower. Petr was following Zorka on the opposite Drážďasnká tower. He had quite a view of the drama they played there. “When Mocan was placing the third ring, he dropped a hand dril. It hit Cajtháml right to his head – he had to rappel down and found something that looked like a turban instead of a bandage. It was not one of the best Mocan’s days,” remembers Prachtel.
So both Mocan and Prachtel confirm that Cajtháml didn’t have to go to the hospital back then. “I never hurt myself during climbing so much that I would have to go to the hospital,” says Cajtháml. So he stayed at the spot and continued climbing. However, probably because he was feeling a bit dizzy after that precise hit, he was not able to lift Mocan to a better position at the third ring (a technique commonly used back then). Thus, at 3 o’clock, Mocan called Prachtel to come and help again. “He almost ran up to me, I just helped him with one of his feet and off he went into the chimney,” says Mocek.
How does Petr Prachtel remember the final gully? “RP to the third ring and then I needed some help because the crack was totally dirty – there was a nest, some wood etc. And we didn’t have anything to clean it with. Once we reached the top with Mocan, we threw the rope down to Cajtháml and soon he too stood with us on the top. Zorka watched us from the Drážďanská tower and another woman took photos from there, however, the photos came out to be quite bad. Then we decided – God knows why – to climb the Normal route on Amerika six times in a row. And in the evening we drank again.”
Memory of Zdenek Petran
”A beautiful classic route. I remember that everybody said that after the first ring, you have to place a knot into those cracks and hang in it to get some rest.
It wasn’t all about the OS and RP stuff like today.
Just take the big knot, place it, and hang in it to get some rest in order to finish the route. One of these knots even became fixed there for some time. I climbed it with Pavel Krupka back then. I think we were 18th to complete the route, it was 1971.
Of course I needed his help in the final dihedral as the guys who did the first ascent. It’s not a shame to do so when the first ascent was done the same way. First, it was impossible for me to climb it without the aid of a partner and second, I don’t need to compete with other guys.”
If you’re interested in learning more information about climbing in the sandstone region, feel free to contact us. We can tell you which seasons or months are the best, which routes are a must-do, which are not dangerous, where to stay, where to park, where the best beer is tapped, and so on… Our enthusiastic editorial board is based in the north of the Czech Republic – where the sandstones shape the landscape. Write us at: [email protected] . . .
“Climbing is not about the grades and life is not about the money.”
He loves to write about inspiring people.
Addicted to situations when he does not care about the time – in the mountains or sandstone crags.
Professional video editor, cameraman and occasional photographer.
He was shooting in China, Argentina, Indonesia or India. His next destination is New Zealand.
Motto: „When there is a will, there’s a way.“