Bishop Highballs for Verhoeven and Saurwein

posted by dpm on 01/02/2012

It’s been interesting to follow Dutch climber, Jorg Verhoeven’s blog since he and his girlfriend Katharina Saurwein landed in the states back in early October for the World Cup competition in Boulder, Colorado.  Since then, they’ve embarked on a six month road trip around the states, with only one small detour to China for Jorg to win the Jiangyin Masters Competition (Katha got fourth).  With a little extra spending cash in their pocket they stayed at Kentucky’s Red River Gorge long enough for Jorg to send Pure Imagination (5.14d) and Katha to send Ultraperm (5.13d) as well as much more for both of them.

Jorg tops out Ambrosia (V11)  Photo: Jorg's blog

From there they headed west for some adventure in Yosemite Valley where they were able to stand atop El Cap and Half Dome before cold temperatures forced them to the east side of the Sierra mountains and Bishop.  Although the duo seems to be just on a pleasant vacation, outside observers might be taken aback by their mastery of every discipline of climbing.  5.14d sport routes, climbing El Cap, and now highball bouldering ascents that are considered at the cutting edge of the genre.  Jorg just climbed the Buttermilk highball Ambrosia (V11) for its sixth ascent while Katharina has climbed This Side of Paradise (V10) for its second female ascent after Lisa Rands in 2007. 

Katharina Saurwein on This Side of Paradise (V10)  Photo: Jorg's Blog

Regarding Ambrosia, Jorg wrote in his blog:

“Like I previously wrote, Bishop offers some of the best highballs around, and of course I can never resist the temptation…

After doing ‘Evilution direct’ (8a) last year in 3 ground up attempts, I felt hesitant about its neighbour ‘Ambrosia’ (8a). It’s even higher and a fall from the last half of the boulder is not an option without wheelchairs imvolved, for me this didn’t sound like a lot of fun.

This year it hadn’t shrunk, but somehow I felt ready for it. The question remained: rope check out like the previous ascents or a clean ground up style?

Alex Honnold, a well experienced solo climber helped me on this question by telling me the top isn’t hard, but loose and not so obvious without a rope inspection. So my conscience (Katha standing underneath shuffling two little pads) won from the principles (I strongly dislike rope inspections on boulders) and after trying the moves twice I ran up Ambrosia. Feels good to be done with it…”

With quite a bit of time left in their trip it will be interesting to see what comes next for these two very talented climbers. 

Click the image for video of their ascents.