The World’s Tallest Artificial Climbing Wall

Europe’s tallest chimney has been converted into the world’s tallest artificial climbing route. The disused 360m chimney in Trbovlje, Slovenia has been fitted with a multi-pitch 5.14a plastic route.

The Trbovlje tower. Photo: Jakob Schweighofer/Red Bull Content


Champion Slovenian sport climbers Janja Garnbret and Domen Škofic got the first crack at the imposing tower. A Red Bull film crew documented their climb.

Garnbret and Škofic’s onsight attempt looks particularly grueling. International Federation of Sport Climbing designers Katja Vidmar and Simon Margon christened their creation the Never Ending Story. The name is justified: Garnbret and Škofic spent almost 12 hours on their first attempt at the stack.

The Red Bull documentary charts the construction of the route, as well as Garnbret and Škofic’s climbs. Each pitch offers different challenges and a different feel. While the gradient remains constant on the vertical chimney, the designers wanted to ensure that it did not feel like the same obstacle for the full 360m.

The climbing route up the Trbovlje Chimney. Photo: Jakob Schweighofer/Red Bull Content Pool


This was Garnbret’s first multi-pitch route and Škofic’s second. Unsurprisingly, both found the chimney very challenging. The crux of the climb is 250m above ground and involves tiny crimps requiring immense strength. Mistakes meant repeating pitches, draining stamina, and more time on the wall. The wind, extra climbing equipment, and degree of difficulty took their toll. Almost eight hours in, Garnbret seems dispirited. “I’m not starting from scratch again, no way,” she says.

Although they fell several times on their first climb, the pair returned four days later for a second attempt. This time they topped out in under eight hours, shaving four hours off their initial climb. You can watch the full 48-minute documentary below.

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam. A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon. He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon. His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.

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