Weekend Warm-Up: Climbers Tackle Mega-Hard Alps Route ‘WoGü’ With Aplomb

There’s nothing quite like watching elite climbers wax poetic about routes beyond the ability of mere mortals.

So it goes with the latest climbing documentary from Arc’teryx, which follows a good-natured duo ascending one of the Alps’ hardest routes.

Technically speaking, the WoGü route stretches for 10 mega-hard pitches in the centre of the spectacular Rätikon range of Switzerland. It’s a 350m, 8c climb that’s as demanding as it is beautiful.

And the poetry? WoGü is “extreme.” It’s a “dream and it’s an illusion.”

That’s Nina Caprez, who climbs the insane route with Cedric Lachat. They are elite climbers, long-time accomplices, and “greater-than-life characters,” according to the video description.

Caprez and Lachat, who call themselves former lovers turned climbing buddies, have no problem working together.

“It’s just like before,” Lachat says of their relationship when climbing. “It’s super efficient.”

WoGü’s limestone wall offers mostly small handholds, microscopic foot holds, and sustained climbing at an elite level.

But though he’s clearly stoked for the route, Lachat barely seems deterred by the difficulty.

“The objective is simple,” he says. “I’m going to crush it in one day: period.”

route map wogu

The route up WoGü. Photo: Arc’teryx/YouTube

Linking up 10 brutal pitches

It’s impossible not to feel endeared by Lachat’s boyish description of this brutally difficult route.

You start off following a grassy ledge to get to the start, he explains. Then there’s a pitch of super-slabby 6c climbing with just three bolts. That’s followed by a “super committed” 7a slab. Then a grueling 8c pitch with a “nasty crimp” before a dyno to a not-great two-finger pocket.

Then there’s a “very hard” 7c section where Lachat adorably explains the technical wizardry of his partner.

“This is where Nina puts in a heel hook,” he says. “She does an alien open-hip move that looks like a stroll for her while I have to be pulling with all I have.”

That’s hard enough, but the climb isn’t over. The two climbers then have to send an 8b+ section that’s “super hard” and nothing but tiny crimps.

“Crimps, crimps, crimps, crimps, crimps!” he says.

Then there’s another 8b section, this time in a tight dihedral unlike anything else that Lachat has ever seen. That’s followed by an 8c traverse with a hand switch that serves as the crux of the route.

For the finish, they must then climb an 8a+ pitch followed by a 7c. Both of which Lachat says he “did not find to be too hard.”

cameraman wogu

A cameraman hanging off WoGü. Photo: Arc’teryx/YouTube

Camera crew included

WoGü also offers humorous and insightful perspectives on the day-to-day work of big-wall climbing — from both sides of the camera.

“When we get on the wall on the first day, we are petrified,” cameraman Julian Christe says. “The first pendulum when you let go of a hold — it stops your breathing. Then little by little, you get used to it.”

Big-wall adventures like these offer emotional highs and lows like nothing else. Perhaps it’s the raw excitement of the climbers involved, but their poetry seems to have rubbed off on the video’s marketing team.

“Deciphered, decrypted, WoGü no longer remains a mysterious hieroglyph carved in limestone, but turns into an open book,” the description says.

As Lachat and Caprez stand on the summit, praising each other’s performance, it’s hard not to feel swept up by their obvious affection for climbing, and for each other.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.