Interview: Jernej Kruder On Climbing Sharma’s “King Line” Es Pontas
Jernej Kruder, who made the second ascent of Chris Sharma’s deep-water-solo “King Line” Es Pontas in Mallorca, Spain, talks about the climb, the infamous dyno, and what it’s like to project a difficult deep water solo.
Q&A with Jernej Kruder
First off, how was the climb?
So Es Pontas. The best climb in the world! Lots of good rests, amazing cruxes, nice location and pure form of climbing—no rope. Just you, the rock and water for “protection.”
What inspired you to try Es Pontas?
Since I’m kind of a multi-discipline climber, I decided to try psicobloc [deep water soloing] as well. I knew I’m good at dynos and I’m not afraid of heights. After all, Es Pontas looked so amazing on the video so I said if I do DWS, this could be my main goal.
How many times did you try Es Pontas overall?
I tried it exactly 39 tries (two out of the 39 I spent on Pontax). Sixteen days just on Es Pontas—four weeks being on the island.
What was the crux for you?
At the beginning, for sure the crux was the dyno. And if I could split the route for every single move, the dyno is for sure the hardest. After the dyno there is a traverse, which was a big mystery for me, because I only saw Chris [Sharma] doing crazy drop knees. For me that was impossible, but I luckily found a better solution for me.
The last crux was the arête. I knew I didn’t have much time [on the island] so I decided to try the upper part [of Es Pontas] with a rope. The moves felt okay, just easy enough that I knew it was possible for me to connect it all together.
On my last four days I was so lucky I didn’t fall even once on the dyno (even though I was never sure if I was going to do it or not). So at the end the main crux was a long move on the arête. I had stuck it three times already, but failed after that move, three moves before jug. There is also a strange crux after the jug, but luckily I was very confident after doing all the hard parts, so it was just a routine to get to the top.
What did you think of the dyno, and what was it like to fall from there?
I did the dyno on my second day on it (third try in total). Then it happened 50 percent of the time until my send. For sure, in the beginning not as often. It’s long and very unpredictable, because you can’t see the next hold before you jump.
In the beginning when I couldn’t control the fall so much, I had a few bad falls. Luckily nothing too bad—just some pain after hitting the water in a flat body position. After the dyno there is the traverse, so you’re not much higher than on the dyno and on the arête. Falls from here were more pleasant.
Did you always try it ground up?
At first my plan was to do it ground up, but then I realized I didn’t have so much time [on Mallorca] so I tried the upper arête crux with a rope for few tries.
Seems like a deep-water-solo route would be difficult to project. Were you able to give it multiple attempts each session/day, and if so, what was the average number of times that you were able to try it each day?
The big weight of a DWS ascent is that you have to try it from the ground every single time. If you fall on the first move (which happened to me three times) you have to wait until you’re dry, and then try it again from the very beginning. And even when you make it very high and you fall, you can’t just grab for a quickdraw and try the moves again. Combining everything together with not knowing whether you’re going to stick the dyno or not makes it a very difficult mind battle. So on some days I only had four tries.
What other climbs did you try this trip? Had you done much DWS before?
I planned the trip [to Mallorca] to be five weeks. First, I thought I’m just going to climb some easier stuff for the first week and when I feel comfortable I can start projecting on Es Pontas. But on my first day I felt too good to not try something hard.
So I onsighted Sharma’s Weather Man (8a+/5.13c), 18 meters long with the crux on the top, and I already had a go on Es Pontas. So I only spent one more day to try other things. I went to Porto Cristo and Cala Barques where I flashed the famous Loskot and Two Smoking Barrels (8a+/5.13c) and onsighted two other 8a’s [5.13b]. But before [this trip] I only did one unknown DWS route in the Verdon Gorge, [France]—it didn’t feel so comfortable as here on Mallorca.
What was the most difficult part of the whole project? What was your favorite part?
For sure the most frustrating thing was not knowing whether I would do the dyno or not. Even on my send I didn’t feel too comfortable on it.
The best part was my send go. After the dyno I was so calm and I was just floating through the moves. The best feeling in the world was standing on the top of the arch and feeling so happy that the battle was finally over.
Will you return to the arch with Jan to cheer him on?
I’m staying here until November 11, and for sure I’ll be around when Jan [Hojer] will be trying it.
Do you have any other projects before you leave?
Until the end of the trip we’ll do some filming, so I don’t think there will be any other chance to try something serious.
Watch Chris Sharma on El Pontas:
Hong and Spannuth land a one-two punch and give the Joe Kinder testpiece its third and fourth ascents.read more
The Italian climber is just the fourth person to send a route of that grade.read more