Simon Wahli repeats France's toughest trad route

Exactly four and a half years to the day after his serious climbing accident in Yosemite Valley, the Swiss mountain guide and climber Simon Wahli manages his most difficult trad route to date with Le Voyage (E10, 7a) in Annot.

May 13, 2022 scores Simon Wahli after three days check out that James Pearson-Test piece The Journey in the climbing area Annot. It is only the fifth iteration of France's most difficult trad line. For Simon Wahli, the ascent also has a very personal meaning: It is the first really difficult route that you have to secure yourself since his climbing accident four and a half years ago.

"The key point was technically at the limit for me, but the placements below were good."

Simon Wahli

"I hadn't tried anything really demanding since 2017 that also challenged me mentally." From that point of view, Le Voyage was the perfect challenge, explains Wahli: "The key point was technically at the limit for me, but the placements below were good. "

Rectangle_Knatsch in Magic Wood

Video: Simon Wahli on the sixth ascent of Le Voyage

Brilliant line, perfect climbing

The idea of ​​climbing Le Voyage came up in March this year. The trigger is the video of Babsi Zangerls Perpetration. "From that moment on I knew that I had to try this route one day," says Wahli. He doesn't have to wait long. During the spring break, he and his girlfriend Raphaela spontaneously decide to go to Verdon to make a stop in Annot.

simon wahli le voyage toprope
Simon Wahl checks out Le Voyage, the king line in the Annot climbing area. picture Raphaela Haug

A first check out on the fixed rope is promising and ends with the rating: technically feasible. "Le Voyage really grabbed me," enthuses Simon Wahli. "The line is brilliant, the climbing perfect." After three days of bouldering, he feels ready for the lead climb.

“Le Voyage really grabbed me. The line is brilliant, the climbing perfect.”

Simon Wahli

Head cinema in advance

However, before Wahli gets on the sharp end of the rope, he gives his body a rest day. As so often before a difficult ascent, the body rests, but not the mind. Circling thoughts and the intellectual confrontation with a challenge were part of the preparation, says Simon Wahli. "In the run-up there is a lot going on mentally."

"In the run-up to a difficult ascent, there is a lot going on mentally."

Simon Wahli

On the day of the ascent, the young mountain guide quickly finds his rhythm. He climbs the first easier 15 meters, a nice 7a crack. Then Le Voyage pulls left into the compact wall alignment and follows a fine crack that can be secured with mobile safety devices in places.

"At the last stop I really took my time and shook for a long time." In the key point itself he was in full flow and didn't notice much.

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Le Voyage follows a natural crack system through the compact line of walls. Picture: Raphaela Haug

Tough but beautiful

"For me, Le Voyage was by far the most beautiful and also the most difficult trad route that I have climbed so far," sums up Simon Wahli. The level of difficulty E10, 7a issued by James Pearson is difficult for him to classify, especially since he has little experience with the British ratings. The equivalent on the French scale is 8b+.

"It means a lot to me that I'm mentally able to climb lines like that again."

Simon Wahli

The quick ascent of Le Voyage definitely gave the Bernese professional climber the motivation to try more tours of this character in the future. "It means a lot to me that I'm mentally able to climb lines like that again."

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Credits: Cover picture Simon Wahli

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