Candid chat with Austrian bouldering champion Kilian Fischhuber
Austrian Kilian Fischhuber, one of the world’s most successful climbers, was in India recently for a 12-day expedition in Badami, Karnataka. During this bouldering session, Fischhuber along with Pune-based climber Tuhin Satarkar, climbed routes Ganesh and Samsara, and were successful in bolting new routes in the temple area of Badami, arguably India’s toughest climbing terrain.
Kilian Fischhuber scaling one of the routes at Badami, Karnataka
“We have opened five new routes. But we only managed to climb three of them. The three climbed routes are difficult but beautiful. The two remaining routes are very difficult. I almost climbed one of them but failed due to lack of time and the high temperatures. So, I have to return to finish at least one of the two remaining projects,” says Fischhuber.
In this gravity-defying adventure, the three new routes that were opened are 20m high and fall under grade 7d, 7c (bouldering rating denoting the level of difficulty). Fischhuber and Satarkar have christened the two routes, The Fridge and Squid World. They are yet to name the third route.
The ace climber reveals that they did the bolting (placing of the protection points i.e. bolts and hangers) from above. “It was difficult. We had to reach the cliff before sunrise because both face south,” he adds. Soon after their Badami excursion, the two moved to Hampi where they finished three more routes — Middle Way, Literal Cobra and Crystal Ball, which were easier than those in Badami. They used harnesses and ropes while bouldering in Badami, and only crash pads in Hampi.
Hampi vs Badami
“Bouldering in India is known because of Hampi. It is roughly three hours from Badami and is covered with granite boulders. Climbers consider Hampi as their paradise. The setting amidst mountains, hills, rice fields, beautiful sunsets and temples; however, the rock quality isn’t as good as in Badami,” he shares.
The toughest climbs...
My most difficult climb was the ascent of the route called Action Directe. It is located in Frankenjura, Germany, which was first scaled by the late German climber Wolfgang Gullich in 1991. It is regarded as the first route of such difficulty at the time, and when I repeated it in 2006, I was one of the 10 people who had climbed that route. Recently, I was in Greece and did a first ascent of a 9a route, which was equally difficult.
How to reach Badami
Badami is approximately 584 km from Mumbai.
BY RAIL: Two trains operate between Mumbai and Badami — 19406/Ahmedabad-Yeshvantpur (Weekly) AC Express and 06512/Jaipur-Yesvantpur (Weekly) GaribRath Special.
BY AIR: There is no airport in Badami. The nearest airport is at Hubli (90 km). So, fly to Hubli and hire a cab or hail a bus from there for Badami.
BY ROAD: Hire a private cab or drive down. No direct buses go to Badami. Hail it from Hubli and book a cab from there to reach Badami.