In sending Battle Cat (8c+ 5.14c), Lena
Herrmann has become the first woman to send a 5.14c in the notoriously powerful and bouldery Frankenjura arena.
“I was psyched to try [Battle Cat],” Herrmann, 22, tells Rock and Ice, “[because] it’s incredibly beautiful and looks inspiring …
and because with so many moves it’s not typical for Frankenjuran climbs.”
Tucked into Germany’s Bavarian region, Frankenjura is an internationally renowned hotspot for hard sport climbs. The area contains over 8,000 known routes,
173 of them are 5.14a and harder, according to Mountain Project. It houses the world’s probable first 5.14d, Action Directe, established by Wolfgang Güllich in 1991. Many of the harder climbs have seen steady traffic, yet ascensionists
have been predominantly men.
Battle Cat was first established in 2011 by Markus Bock, another strong German climber, who had a handful of 5.15a first ascents under his belt.
Located at the Hängender Stein crag, Battle Cat is an atypical Frankenjuran climb. Instead of being “short and intense” like most climbs there,
according to planetmountain.com,
“[Battle Cat] is a 70-move outing which requires not only superb power but also outstanding endurance.” The first portion of the route follows
Cringer, a 5.14a that Herrmann redpointed in 2014, before continuing into more overhung terrain.
northern Germany, says “the climbs there don’t always offer what girls like: small crimps and long climbs. Which is funny because [that is exactly
what] Battle Cat is like.”
Herrmann found that the hardest part of the route was the endurance required to finish the entire climb. Afterwards, she told planetmountain.com that "Although the physical crux is in the first half of the route, I never actually fell there. I kept falling
off higher up because of lack of stamina. And it became a psychological battle."
With her ascent of Battle Cat, Herrmann has become the first German woman to climb 5.14c, the first breakthrough for German female climbing in
almost 15 years. The last time a German woman broke into a new climbing grade was in 2003, when Marietta Uhden claimed the first ascent of Sonne im Herzen (5.14b),
also in Bavaria, which was the hardest first ascent by a woman at the time. Uhden was a longtime top competition climber and won the 2000 Bouldering
World Cup in Munich. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, she continued to climb throughout her treatment, sending a host of 5.13s. She
died in 2014 at the age of 46.
Herrmann too, is strong both indoors and outdoors. Last year she won the German sport climbing championships and sent a handful of Frankenjura’s 5.14b
climbs, including Klondike Cat, Father and Son and Odd Fellows.
Up next for her is some international terrain, and then back to her homeland, where, she says, there “are so many climbs which have to be done!”