Red Bull Dual Ascent, multi-pitch climbing
Competing is mostly modern climbing – you’re competing against yourself, the route, the wall, the elements and other climbers.
Where most climbing gyms peak at around the height of standard 60-70m pitch, Red Bull Dual Ascent goes much higher thanks to the 220m Verzasca Dam where the climbing route will go up at 180m.
A multi-pitch climbing competition like this has never been held before – it is the first-ever head-to-head multi-pitch competition on identical, artificial routes.
What is multi-pitch climbing
Climbing a multi-pitch route is done in teams of two or more. One “climbs in the lead”, as on a sports route, taking the risk of climbing above the bolts which would catch up with him in the event of a fall, while the other takes care of it. For the next step they will change, with the belayer climbing the next step while the first climber rests and belays. A “terrain” is normally defined as what can be climbed using a standard rope, which is usually 60-70m long, so a pitch is often around 30-40m high. Probably the most legendary multi-pitch course in the world is The Nose on Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.
What is “dual” in Red Bull Dual Ascent?
This climbing competition offers something never seen before in a climbing competition: two routes, one next to the other. Each route is made up of 6 lengths and 180m of elevation, and each hold is identical between the two routes, exactly the same hold in exactly the same place.
Where have we seen this dam before?
Your eyes don’t deceive you – yes, the Verzasca Dam looks familiar. He is present in a number of films, the most famous being Goldeneye, where James Bond bungee jumps. The dam retains 23 million cubic meters of water and allows a flow of 46,000 cubic meters per second (that’s a lot) in the Lago di Vogorno, producing 234 GWh of electricity per year. It’s also a breathtaking stage for Red Bull Dual Ascent.
Who participates in the Red Bull Dual Ascent?
The final list of athletes has yet to be confirmed, but you can expect to see world-class climbers like Sasha DiGulian, Felipe Camargo and Petra Klingerl on the wall, as well as Shauna Coxsey supporting the event from the ground. Each climber will bring a climbing partner, of course!
How hard is it really?
The ascent was set up by a team of expert tracers led by Simon Margon (the mastermind behind 360 Ascent, Janja Garnbret’s 2020 project). The pitches will be at least 6C and will go up to a difficulty level of 8B on the French system. In other words: tough.
How does the competition work?
The competition is spread over three days – two qualifying days followed by a rest day, followed by the day of the final. Groups of two teams will climb head-to-head on identical routes, the climb of which is estimated to take around two hours, using the same ropes and equipment. Teams will need a clean pass on each lead and follow length – but that doesn’t mean they can’t fall, it just means that if they fall they have to start the length again. If both teams complete all lengths, the total time to complete the course will determine the winner. Time doesn’t stop until the second climber completes the last pitch.
How can I watch the competition?
Space is limited for spectators coming to watch the Red Bull Dual Ascent in person at the Verazca Dam in Switzerland, but stay tuned for a special documentary about the event on Red Bull TV.
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