It’s a strange characteristic of the climbing crags in the Palatinate forest that there are only a few hard routes at each rock. Therefore the  ‚Retschelfels‘ is somehow unique – the steep overhangs on the shady north side provide a lot of hard routes. One of them is ‚Gambaexplosion‘ [8c]  – climbed by Lutz Limburg for the first time in 2001 and repeated quite seldom. Getting one of these rare ascents of this route seemed impossible a few years ago …

Six years ago, I visited the ‚Retschelfels‘ for the very first time. Bene showed me a route called ‚Gamba‘ which got my second 8a ascent. It took me countless sessions and great effort to climb it. Back in these days, it seemed unbelievable to climb a route like ‚Gambaexplosion‘ which is listed under the five hardest routes in the Palatinate guidebook. Then last year Flo and I returned to climb both ‚Fairplay‘ and ‚TNT‘ and it got more within reach.

Catching the top hold of ‚Gambaexplosion‘ [8c] is tricky …

Being closed for over five months each year, a lot of climbers were looking forward to the opening of the ‚Retschel‘ which is a nice spot in summer. Actually, I had no further projects there, but my climbing partners somehow forced me to return to this crag. ‚Gambaexplosion‘ is a combination of the routes ‚Gamba‘ and ‚TNT‘ adding another dynamic sequence in the middle part. You have to climb the tricky undercling crux in the middle of TNT with pumped forearms and then adding the last super far top move jumping from some small crimps to the top sloper. If you have too little swing you won’t reach the top hold, but if you have too much swing, you can not hold it …

Nevertheless, this move feels quite well if you move perfectly. But with pumped forearms, I had no sense for perfection. I fell about ten times at the last move of ‚Gambaexlposion‘ being not able to kill the swing. But I kept on trying and moved more and more efficient with every try. And after endless failed attempts, I was able to catch the sloper and stuck it. In the end, the whole route felt quite well and I love this process from ‚out of range‘ to ‚possible‘.

Three weeks after the opening of the ‚Retschel‘, all of us were able to send our projects: Paul presented an impressive show in ‚Fairplay‘ [8b] and ‚TNT‘ [8b+] and Jan and Dominik took down ‚Big easy‘ [7b+] which is a nice route with a large dyno or feet forward sequence at the end.  Within a few sessions, I was able to climb a bunch of routes adn combinations. These combinations are more or less useful, but a lot of fun for sure:

  • Big easy – 7b+
  • Narziss on the Rocks – 7b+/7c
  • Gamba – 8a
  • Mamba – 8a+
  • Gordischer Knoten – 8a+
  • Bespring mich – 8a+
  • Mamba-Extension – 8b
  • Purple Pills – 8b
  • TNT – 8b+
  • Sheets to the wind – 8b+/c
  • Gambaexplosion – 8c

Quite a good tick list I guess (despite ‚Gambaexplosion‘ I am especially proud of ‚Narziss on the Rocks‘ which kept me struggling for years now). I had a lot of fun, but now I am ready to see another crag again and maybe for some more serious climbing 🙂

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