This article originally appeared on Climbing
The 32-year-old British climber and "Wide Boy" Pete Whittaker has freed a classic A2 aid line, Eigerdosis, tackling 100 feet of overhanging terrain he estimates to be 8c (5.14b), on the Profile Wall in Jossingfjord, Norway.
Immense and looming, rife with steep, intricate crack systems, the "Profilveggen" is best known for Nico Favresse's 2013 crack The Recovery Drink (8c+/5.14c), a route Whittaker repeated in 2019. Recovery is considered one of the most difficult cracks in the world.
Whittaker--who now calls Norway home--has been working Eigerdosis since April. The route is "the last big, obvious feature that hadn't been freed on the Profile Wall," Whittaker told Climbing.
The line was put up by Hans Jorgen Moe and Trym Atle Saeland back in 1996, and now all of it has been freed in two sections. In truth, Whittaker's recent ascent is only the latter half of Eigerdosis. The lower portion goes at 7b (5.12b), first freed in 2019 by Whittaker's girlfriend Mari Salvesen, "and is now classed as the ‘warm up’ at the crag," he said.
Sitting midway up a wall that's only accessible by rappelling in from above, the 5.14b pitch was a pain in the butt to work. "You need a really long rope," Whittaker said, "so we had to tie two ropes together, [rappel] in from the top, set up a top rope."
"It was a bit of a faff," he added, laughing.
The gear placements, at least, were bomber and plentiful. "Every route on that wall has tremendous gear," Whittaker said. "It doesn't matter if it's [5.12d] or [5.14b]. You can get good gear all over because there are crack features everywhere. The difficulty [at the Profile Wall] comes from the steepness and the climbing. There's no mental aspect to the trad."
The wall is a blend of both traditional face features and branching crack systems, offering a unique hybrid of jamming and steep face climbing. "Looking from the ground, the route mainly follows a crack feature," Whittaker said, "but like all cracks at the Profile Wall, they aren't very deep. They bottom out. So you can get some jams, but then they peter out a bit [and you have to use face holds] then it goes into another crack system."
The route is a series of boulder problems with rests in between, "rather than a total stamina fest," Whittaker said, "but due to the length of the pitch, it's still long enough to get tired." There was no one crux sequence, Whittaker said, the main obstacle was simply the difficulty of stacking them all on top of each other.
Whittaker first rappelled in to scope out Eigerdosis back in 2019, after sending The Recovery Drink, but he was wearing sneakers and didn't do much more than poke around. He began trying the line in earnest this April, and Whittaker completed the route after 16 sessions.
Whittaker said that the hardest part about Eigerdosis wasn't the climbing itself, but the logistics required to work an overhung 5.14b starting in the middle of a wall. "Going down there, setting up the ropes, falling off, then you have to figure out how to strip the gear, it's just a bit of a nightmare," he said. When he went for redpoint attempts, he jugged up the first pitch of the route up to a hanging belay and began from that point. "It really is just a pitch marooned in the middle of the wall," he said.
"Initially, when I [rappelled] in a few years ago, I was like, 'Whoa, this is totally desperate.' But when I came back in April I had a better mindset. I was also wearing climbing shoes that time," he added, laughing.
Whittaker feels confident about the 8c/5.14b grade and said the route is certainly easier than Recovery but harder than something like Ronny Medelsvensson (5.13d), two routes both established on the wall by other climbers.
"That said, I'm a little bit out here on my own with developing the routes at the Profile Wall, so I don't know," he clarified. "But with first ascents, you're just giving people an idea of what to expect. That's really all you can do." Whittaker also used the app Darth Grader to plug in different sections of the route to estimate the line's difficulty.
All told, he sees this send as more of a stepping stone than a standalone achievement. "It's a cool [pitch], but it's not massive in significance to me, in terms of other things I've done," he said. "Linking the whole wall certainly will be. That'll be the big one."
Whittaker plans to link Eigerdosis with the bottom half of another line, Crown Duel (8b+/5.14a)--which he freed in 2019--and make the entire push into one massive, nails-hard route. This is the natural progression, he said, because the formation naturally lends itself to a full, continuous push. "The belay you start at [for this pitch] isn't even a proper stance," Whittaker said. "There's no ledge there, it's practically a hanging belay, so it'd be nice to be able to do the whole thing from the bottom. I hope to go back in September to give it a blast." If successful, the project will likely be one of the longest continuous pitches of hard trad in the world.
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