The First Free Climb of Denali’s ‘Slovak Direct’

A Slovak team has put its mark on the Denali climbing season. First, Michal Sabovcik, Richard Nemec, and Sisa Kristofovicova climbed the normal West Buttress route on May 19. A day later, teammates Martin Heuger, Matej Duda, and Robert Vrlak followed.

Then between May 24 and 27, two members from the second group, Vrlak and Duda, also climbed the Cassin Ridge.

Robert Vrlak and Matej Duda on the Cassin Ridge and atop Denali. Photo: SHS JAMES/Facebook

 

Finally, on May 26, Richard Nemec and Michal Sabovcik free climbed the ‘Slovak Direct’ route on Denali. It took the pair some 40 hours to top out.

“Mark [Toralles] and Bru [Busom] of Spain climbed most of the line free in 2019, but they didn’t lead the crux pitch free,” Richard Nemec told ExplorersWeb. “The leader aided the pitch and then the second climber climbed the pitch on top rope.” So the Slovaks was the first-ever fully free climb of the route.

The Slovak Direct route. Photo: SHS JAMES/Facebook

 

Richard Nemec and Michal Sabovcik. Photo: SHS JAMES

 

The Slovak Direct has been climbed 12 times so far, including twice this season. A total of 28 climbers have managed the route since its first ascent in 1984 by Slovaks Blazej Adam, Tono Krizo, and Frantisek Korl.

Kris Annapurna is the writer of Explorersweb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, updates of news during the climbing seasons in Himalaya, Karakorum, etc., for the last 9 month for Explorersweb. Prior to that, Kris spent time at/worked at Real State agent, interpreter and sworn translator in criminal law.

Based in Madrid, Spain, and trips to Hungary (homeland).

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Charles
Charles
19 days ago

You mean”marked the first free climb of this route” this season. It was freed decades ago.

Praeriepanther
Praeriepanther
18 days ago
Reply to  Charles

Dates and names of climbers and source of information please?

Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
18 days ago
Reply to  Charles

The Slovaks made the first free ascent ever, not just this season. We’ve added a paragraph to the story based on what Richard Nemec of the Slovak team told us.

Mark Westman
Mark Westman
2 days ago

The original route went left of the crux pitch that is described above, and was freed (pretty sure) by the FA (Slovak) party in 1984, then definitely freed by the 3rd ascent by House/Twight/Backes in 2000, and again on the 4th ascent by the Giri Giri Boys in 2008. This section was referred to as “The Ramp”, House called it “5.9X”.. The 2nd ascent of the route was by Mahoney and Gilmore, and they were the first to use the crux pitch described and pictured above. Subsequently, I made the fifth ascent of the route with Jesse Huey and we… Read more »

Wankercity
Wankercity
18 days ago

How come the difficulty of the pitch they freed isn’t listed?