Home » Markus Ranalter and IFSC-veteran Elisabeth Lardschneider Completed New Himalayan Line; Then Tragedy Struck
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Markus Ranalter and IFSC-veteran Elisabeth Lardschneider Completed New Himalayan Line; Then Tragedy Struck

After opening “a true kingline,” Lardschneider slipped in a snowfield, dying following a 150-meter fall. 

In July, Italian climbers Elisabeth “Lisi” Lardschneider and Markus Ranalter completed a first ascent of a new line up Little Jamyang Ri (18,372 ft) in the Himalayas. They named the 18-pitch, 1,838-foot route Nurbu Duk Lam, meaning Special Valuable Line, and graded it VIII, A1 (X-?).

Shortly after this triumph, an unexpected tragedy struck. On July 26, Lardschneider slipped on the snowfield of Chanrasik Ri and died after a 150-meter fall. She and Ranalter were on the approach to the wall when the accident occurred. Lardschneider, who had been competing on the international stage since age 16, was an up-and-coming sport climber for Italy. In 2019, she placed 24th in the lead Youth World Championships. 

Natives of the Dolomites in Italy, Lardschneider, age 20, and Ranalter, age 23, met while climbing the high peaks as part of the South Tyrolean Climbing Club. The duo traveled to the Himalayas as part of a larger Italian team. As soon as they saw the northwestern face of Little Jamyang Ri, they were hooked. “It impressed us from the first moment, as it looked so steep and difficult. The attraction of climbing this wall aroused a huge fire in all of us,” Ranalter said. 

Completed over the course of six days, the ascent presented many challenges. The first pitch was dirty and chossy, so the pair made slow progress their first day. Ranalter considered pitches four, five, and eight to be the most difficult. “Pitch four is a slab followed by a narrow ramp … We were forced to hit a few spits with the hand drill, where the obligatory climbing difficulty is still 7a (5.11+),” Ranalter said. This pitch alone took almost three full days. Pitches five and eight demanded more technical, difficult crack climbing. The pair could not free climb pitch five and considered it even harder than pitch four. Ranalter estimates that the most difficult climbing on the route lies somewhere around 5.13c. 

Patrick Tirler and Moritz Sigmund completed a first ascent on another line of Jamyang Ri this fall; Tirler had scouted Lardschenider and Ranalter’s route, but deemed it too difficult to attempt. “Lisi and Makke did not give up on their vision, showed extreme determination and extraordinary skills and finally managed to reach the crack through the whole wall up to the summit,” he wrote on Instagram. “In six days of climbing, they completed the first ascent of this amazing wall, opening a true kingline and establishing an incredible free climbing project.”  

As a duo, Renalter and Lardschneider were the perfect combo. “Lisi was the better climber and I was better at rope handling and technical climbing. So we complemented each other quite well,” Ranalter said. He remarked that they continually learned from and pushed each other, with a trust built on many days spent together climbing the Dolomites.

Lardschenider had dreamed of becoming a member of the Catories, a special unit of mountain guides and rescuers in her native Dolomites. To many, she was the face of the next generation of Italian climbing. 

Source: Climbing