Histoire sans Fin (200m/10 pitches, F8b+) – 1st and 2nd ascents
- Friday 27th August 2021
Histoire sans Fin (200m/10 pitches, F8b+) on Petit Clocher du Portalet, Switzerland – 1st and 2nd ascents by Siebe Vanhee and Sebastien Berthe.
Siebe Vanhee writes about the first ascent of Histoire sans Fin:
“Recently, Sebastien Berthe and I were incredibly lucky to make the first two free ascents of what we consider the best granite multi-pitch of the grade in Europe. It might even be the only of the grade. It’s been a year since I’ve heard some rumours about a new, incredibly clean and hard, line on Swiss’ Petit Clocher du Portalet near Martigny.
In 2001 Didier Berthod and Francois Mathey opened the famous second pitch off the ledge, a 45-metre long F7c+ splitter crack, naturally protected. One of the best! The splitter ends in the middle of the beautiful pillar, in the middle of nowhere – the Never Ending Story. The smooth granite above had to wait almost 20 years before Fabien Borter and Bertrand Martenet imagined an incredible bolted continuation of the route, following blank slabs and arêtes to the summit. Despite their great visioning, the climb had to wait until 2020 when they got the help of Didier Berthod to find the missing link pitch, a beautiful orange arête graded F8b."
At the end of June, together with Jean-Eli Lugon we found a small window to go and try Histoire. I got my ass kicked completely and was in a terrible physical state. Despite this, I realised it was one of the best lines I had ever tried. Last week I returned with Sebastien, physically in a way better shape but still intimidated by the line. I mainly went up to have another look and see how it would go. But with the sending vibe Seb brought with us on the wall I was quickly contaminated. We both worked the crux pitch until Seb strongly send. I felt I needed little tries more to send as well but Seb’s time was running for a ‘one-day first-day’ ascent. We continued and he pulled out a strong physical and mental fight, we topped out at night! This day Seb made the first free ascent. As always, he was strong and kept giving every pitch sending tries until he surprisingly did!
Three days later it was my turn, I returned with the support of Seb and Soline. This time convinced I could climb the route. I fired up the F7c+ splitter, continued the F7c traverse pitch to the base of the crux pitch. Suddenly I found myself in the crux of the F8b+ pitch, a super technical boulder problem where the right pressure on microscopic footholds makes the seemingly impossible moves possible. It’s all in the head, you need to dare and push on the feet. It went smooth, I could send it on the first go.
The F8b pitch, the slabby but strenuous arete, was a mental fight. Scary but magical, that’s what comes to mind when I think of that pitch. It felt so impossible on the first try, it’s scary to push so much on the feet but once you find the right pressure and balance, the magic happens. Again, I send this pitch on the first go! The last challenge, a spicy F8a+ slab. I climbed well but nervous, a brainfart happened and I fell at the very last difficult section. Thanks to Seb and Soline, I relativised my lame fall, returned to the anchor and just cruised it to the summit!
It’s been an honour, really! An honour to be able to climb on a wall that beautiful, a route that magical, with the support and enthusiasm of Jean-Eli, Seb and Soline. But not only that, we both are impressed by the openness and kindness of the locals. We had the pleasure to meet Didier Berthod and Francois Mathey together with many others in the cosy ‘Cabane de Orny’ hosted by Yanik and his crew. It’s great to see how the climbing community lives in that mountain hut. Thanks to you all for the great vibes.”
Sebastien Berthe added:
“The difference between Siebe free ascent and mine was pretty fun to notice: while sending all the pitches one after another, Siebe was really in an impressive cruise control mode, he did not let much chance to the route and had very few uncertain factors. On the contrary, I was in total freestyle, falling in every pitch and putting tries after tries until it eventually goes, knowing nothing about the next pitch, but believing strongly I have the ability to do it. A true roller coaster day! I love this style because it brings me the best sensations ever felt in climbing!”