The Mammut Pro Team athlete Jan Hojer has become the third person to complete a successful ascent of Es Pontas, after Chris Sharma and Jernej Kruder. Jan climbed this spectacular route above the open sea in Mallorca without a rope in deep water solo style.
"I attempted the route over 100 times"
Jan, how did you come to attempt this route? You are known more for boulder ascents than deep water solo ventures...
Ever since the publication of “King Lines”, Es Pontas was a dream for me. Back then, I could never have believed that it could actually come true. I was simply fascinated by the line and by deep water soloing as a discipline. It took many years until I felt fit enough to even think about attempting this project. In 2015, I had my first deep water solo experience during a short trip to Mallorca and I knew straight away that this would not be my last foray into this discipline. One year later, I returned, accompanied by Jernej Kruder, with my sights set on this project alone and over a month to dedicate to it.
"I think my highest fall must have been from around 12 meters"
What were the main difficulties? It didn’t actually succeed that time.
We quickly realized that it would take more than just the right level of fitness to pull this off. It requires a good measure of luck to find Es Pontas in a climbable condition. When it rains, it takes a really long time for the upper section to dry. In high waves, the starting section is wet. And if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction or the humidity isn’t right, the last few meters of the route are literally saturated with water.
The greatest sporting challenge was undoubtedly the fact that it was only possible to boulder out the last third of the route with a rope. We had to work out the start, the jump and the technically demanding and pumpy traverse completely from the ground up. It took Jernej and me several weeks to finally work our way up to the last boulder problem on the edge, bringing us to the section of the route we were familiar with from our top rope sessions. Another complication was the fact that the dyno was still uncertain even after several successful attempts. Days when we managed the dyno in 3 or 4 tries were followed by others when we simply couldn’t create the required impetus.
How many attempts did you make?
During almost the entire five weeks in 2016 and this year’s trip, I attempted the route over 100 times. Some sessions were only on the rope on the last section of the route, other days we stuck to the lower half as we knew the top area was too wet.
How were the falls into the water? What was the highest point you fell from?
I think my highest fall must have been from around 12 meters, just one hold from the victory jug! And there were many more from all heights and locations. There were often uncontrolled falls at the dyno, and sometimes from very precarious climbing positions.
The climbing is simply too difficult to think too much about the fall in the crux sequences. If you start out afraid of the water, you won’t have the resolve it takes to make it over the dyno. Fortunately, I never sustained any injuries.
What is the attraction of deep water soloing for you?
The fading of the tension and nervousness everyone needs to fight at the start and then enjoying the feeling of freedom that follows. In no other discipline can you can lose yourself quite so much in the climbing and simply make your way over meters of rock without ending up at lethal jump heights or suspended on some bolts.
The feeling of being completely alone on an impressive rock face with nothing but the sea below you is one of the best experiences I have ever had in climbing.
How difficult is the route? Chris Sharma never actually gave it a rating...
Es Pontas is difficult for me to rate simply due to the fact that I have very little experience of routes of this length and difficulty. For my first 9A, “Action Directe”, it didn’t take me nearly as long, although I was considerably weaker at the time. Es Pontas is definitely in a different league, but whether it is now 9B or 9A+, I wouldn’t like to say. I only know that it is my most difficult route to date and I will always enjoy looking back on my time in Mallorca and this route!