A YEAR ON ’BETOM’
“It’s been almost a year so far – it takes patience” This route with four bolts also requires good friction. “If you’re able to get yourself in a good state of mind, you’ll be able to climb it. Just like anything.”
BE + TOM
The idea was born about five years ago in the pub ‘U Kosti’ (Dolní Žleb village, the Czech Republic). We agreed with Mišo Burian that we would film a ‘nice and difficult route’. When he told us that in the final days of 2020 he had been trying ‘Betom’ XIc (8c fr.) on the left bank of the sandstone Elbe Valley, we were excited – we’ve never had a grade this high on eMontana.
The first ascent was done in 2011 by Ondra BEneš and Martin TOMášek (hence the name), and before Mišo began his attempts, it quite literally had a couple of repeats. Apart from the first ascensionist, only Matěj Svojtka and Markus Hoppe were able to redpoint the route.
The route is currently one of the hardest modern routes on Czech sandstone. Other difficult routes include the nearby ‘To tu ještě nebylo’ (This Is Something Else) XIIb/9a and ‘Černá Perla’ (Black Pearl) XIIa/8c+, but the latter’s grade has not been confirmed as it hasn’t been repeated yet.
What’s „BETOM“ like?
– Mišo Burian climbs and comments –
A DARK PILE OF WOODLAND SCUM
THE VIDEOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE
When I first stood under ‘Betom’, I was surprised, though differently to how someone might be surprised when they stand under something like El Capitan. In fact, it felt like the complete opposite: “I’m sorry, am I really supposed to film this dark pile of woodland scum and make it look interesting?” I said to myself.
The route is located on the ‘Brothel’, which by Elbe Valley standards is a tiny woodland mini-crag. Even the anchor sits below the treeline and the crag is more reminiscent of the German Frankenjura district, which is also hard to film and photograph, because it’s dark and the trees prevent any long-distance shots.
Another issue was Mišo’s climbing style. He is so fluid and elegant in his movement that it doesn’t at all appear as though he’s climbing something completely desperate. His moves were accurate, precise, and quiet, which makes it impossible for someone to comprehend how difficult the route is, unless they try the first couple of moves.
Initially Lukáš Černý came to help with the shooting, and then I filmed alone three times. I had a viewpoint on a nearby tree where the smoke from Mišo incense stick rose. The peace was once disturbed by a rowdy pair, but Mišo wasn’t planning on having his zen-state compromised and said: “Lads, I’m going to have to ask for total silence.”
The majority of Mišo’s attempts ended in the same place around the ominously named ‘turtle-shell hold’. We weren’t able to film Mišo sending it in the end. Out of nowhere one day, he called us on a misty November day and said: “It’s solved!”.
Even though I had filmed there four times, I was a bit unsure about the footage, but ultimately Kuba Freiwald our in-house editor, dealt with it. He created a film that is about loving the process, not the result. Compared to our other older films, in the end, we made something that isn’t particularly visually stunning, but tells a story of exceptional will and focus, which can be inspiring for anyone, not just climbers.
Mišo probably spent around 30 climbing days in the route while attempting his red-point in 2021 and essentially kept falling from the very same place. Despite this he never lost his good spirits and his belief that one day, he’d send it. What more is there to say? A famous Czech climber’s quote seems apt: “Focus is like a laser. The more concentrated the beam, the stronger it is and therefore the greater the chance that you’ll burn through something.”
EVERY WEEKEND IN THE ELBE VALLEY
We also decided to interview Káťa Tran, Mišo’s patient and long-standing partner, who belayed him at least 60 times on the route. The interview took place the day of Mišo’s send, November 24th 2021.
How long has he been trying it?
Mišo clipped the route last year and we’ve been going there quite consistently since March this year.
How many days in total?
Well, I’ll say it simply, we were there almost every weekend. It didn’t matter if it was 5°C or 35°C. (Laughing) I think we only skipped two weekends.
So, is the Brothel and the area around it a no-go zone for you now or have you grown attached?
I was picking routes around the area, so I wasn’t always in the same place. I quite like it there, it’s just a nice area for relaxing.
How did you feel about today? Did you think it would go?
When we arrived, it was misty, and the conditions didn’t look too good. I almost cried because we were quite excited to go climbing. We can deal with 5°C, but if the rock is damp, then it’s no good. Thankfully both of our projects were dry that day and it was only slightly cold. Mišo may have been helped by the fact that I sent a route right next to him (11th of September, Xa/7c). I joked that he was waiting for me to send mine first. (Laughing) I began trying that route two weeks ago because I didn’t know what else to try in the area. (Laughing)
Plans for the future?
We’re finally going on holiday… somewhere warm. Mišo has run out of excuses and has to head south with me. (Laughing)
MATĚJ SVOTJKA’S MEMORIES
‘Betom’? Best conditions I’ve ever experienced in the Elbe Valley while sending. I confirmed my long-held suspicions that it’s worthwhile to wait for a northerly wind one day after it rains. There are about four days like that per year. About the route? It’s strenuous and gets consistently harder… I constantly fell doing a different move. I remember the finishing jump into the pocket – the last hard move.