World champ Kilian Fischhuber and local lad Tuhin Satarkar crimp up India's climbing outback

World champ Kilian Fischhuber and local lad Tuhin Satarkar crimp up India's climbing outback

The Austrian climber's first visit to the country involved taking on some of the hardest rock faces and opening new routes


Five-time Bouldering World Cup champion Kiian Fischhuber recently visited India and went on a climbing spree in the company of Indian Tuhin Satarkar in Badami, Karnataka.

After Satarkar travelled to Austria and Italy last year to train with the 31-year-old Red Bull athlete, Fischhuber returned the favour and made a 12-day trip in February to the popular Indian climbing destination.

Fischhuber and Satarkar topped Ganesh and Samsara, graded 8a, and were successful in bolting new routes in Badami, India’s toughest climbing terrain. The duo opened three new 20m routes in the temple area of Badami, and are graded in the region of 7c and 7d. The two climbers named their new routes ‘The Fridge’ and ‘Squid World’, while the third is as yet unnamed.

Soon after their Badami outing, the two moved on to Hampi where they finished three more routes - Middle Way, Literal Cobra and Crystal Ball, which they say were relatively easier than the sport routes in Badami.

In the future, the duo are looking to opening up two additional routes in Badami, possibly the hardest routes in the country, says Tuhin. Their feat comes just months after Colorado-based bouldering sensation Paige Classen became the first woman to redpoint Ganesh, an 8b+ route in Badami.

This is what Fischhuber had to tell the The Outdoor Journal over an email chat about his experiences in India:

TOJ: Badami has is fast becoming a popular climbing spot in India. Paige Claassen was here and said this was "definitely a different experience". What are you expecting on your climbs here and what motivated you to come here?

Kilian: I think that Badami is foremost known for its superb sport climbing and Hampi is the spot for bouldering. I was motivated by the wish to climb the route Ganesh, and with Tuhin Satarkar’s help I quickly fulfilled that dream.

TOJ: What are your top 5 favorite bouldering spots from around the globe?

Kilian: (1) Fontainebleau, France

(2) Rocklands, South Africa

(3) Hueco tanks, US

(4) Grampians, Australia

(5) Ticino, Switzerland

TOJ: Are you prepared enough to adapt the weather conditions in India. Paige faced difficulty with the heat while redpointing Ganesh. Do you  think the weather can be a challenge for you here?

Kilian: The weather was definitely one of the most challenging things here on my trip. I climbed Ganesh in the morning and a light breeze made it quite nice. But when I did the route again for filming some parts of the route I got sunburned and was a bit dehydrated. The bolting in these temperatures definitely took a toll on me.

TOJ: As the IFSC Bouldering World Cup champion, what do you find more challenging - lead climbing or bouldering?

Kilian: I have won about 20 single events in the bouldering world cup since 2004. My best place at a lead comp is one 3rd place. So lead climbing is for sure harder for me. In rock climbing I benefit from the fact that many routes are powerful which fits me as a boulderer.

TOJ: Ganesh, is considered to be the toughest sport route in India. By when do you think that climbers across the globe will find it interesting and challenging enough for them to come here more often.

Kilian: The visitors of the last years have shown that Badami is already interesting for people around the globe. Tuhin and I have bolted three new routes. Since there is still great potential here I think that more and more climbers will come.

TOJ: How did it feel to complete the iconic Action Directe? Was it hard to perfect deadpointing?

Kilian: I was really motivated to limb Action Directe and when it finally worked out I felt really elevated and happy.

TOJ: How is the transitioning from competition climbing to outdoors happening? You've said you'd like to do El Cap - isn't it a huge change from bouldering to big wall? Most often climbers excel at specific types of climbing - bouldering, sport, comp, big wall, alpine... while very few achieve greatness in more than one.  Can you share a little about your thought process here?

Kilian: As you have said, many climbers focus on one discipline, but I am inspired by people who combine the strength and ability to do more. I have always liked the diversity of climbing and I don’t want to miss out on any aspect. However, I have to say that I am not so much interested in expeditions and highly dangerous alpine climbing. I am too afraid for that.

TOJ: We at The Outdoor Journal believe that an individual's passion for his or her sport or outdoor activity is today more important than nationality - which is why we call ourselves a global outdoors magazine, without national boundaries. Would you agree or disagree?

Kilian: I think it is important to know about ones roots and traditions but I agree that there is more to life than just that. We climbers travel a lot and see many nations and its peoples. That helps us to broaden our horizon and we can make friends around the globe. Climbing is an international movement that some call a style of living and some say we are one big family, regardless of one’s nationality.Place: Badami, Karnataka, India