Klemen Premrl is professional ice climber. He specialized in mixed climbing, especially in hard ice climbing. In his climbing CV has routes like this: Riptide WI7, Wolverine WI 11, Spray On... Top WI 10, M9+, 240 m and lot of others :).
Btw. Klemen will be on Kraków Mountain Festival (4-6 December) in Kraków!
Damian Granowski: Date of birth and how long do you climb?
Klemen Premrl: 21 of September, 1973. I’m climbing since I was 12 years of age, which makes it 30 years in the sport.
Photo: Tim Kemple
Best OS in dry-tooling and ice?
In conventional ice climbing everything that I climbed is on-sight, that’s what ice climbing is all about. So I reckon it is WI 7+. In more modern form of ice climbing, in Helmcken falls, I climbed Spray on WI 10 in first go. In dry tooling I'm not so sure, but on a good day, I can on-sight routes in the range of M10 / M11.
Best RP on dry-tooling and ice?
The hardest Mixed route that I did is Overhead Hazard M12, 250 m, Helmcken Falls, Canada. The only two ice routes that I needed to practice before I sent them, were Wolverine WI 11 and Clash of the Titans WI 10+, both in Helmcken Falls, Canada.
Ice climbing on Iceland. Photo: Tim Kemple
Which Ice tools and crampons?
Black diamond Fuel Ice Tool.
Black diamond Stinger Crampons,
The best place on competitions and climbing meetings?
I climbed in Ice Climbing World Cup from its start in 1998 to 2003. I was always one of those who fight for the prestigious places amongst finalists. My best is 5th place, Ice Climbing World Cup, Pitztal 2003
Klemen in Cineplex, Canadian Rockies. Photo: Damian Granowski
How did you start climbing with Ice-tools? First you climbed in summer or winter ?
I started with mountaineering and rock climbing. When I joined Alpine club I got proper alpine education, which also means that you get to know the basics of different types of climbing. Soon, I found ice climbing as the most joyful art of climbing and I'm loving it ever since.
Some people climb in winter, because it is for them some alternative from climbing indoors, others just like it. What's your favourite kind of climbing? What keeps you at it?
I like all aspects of climbing, and I don't see myself as being an Ice climber. The thing is that my focus is shifting a lot over a time. Right now, I'm climbing in rock way more than I do in Ice… But Im known for my Ice climbing. What keeps me in it is the ability to push boundaries of what is possible a bit higher, ability to set new trends, ability to bring this sport to the next level.
Climbing on Legoland in Val dell'Orco. Photo arch. Klemen Premrl
What is most important to you in winter climbing? The desire for adventure, difficulties, winter climate, or perhaps fame and women ;-)?
Its about the unknown and adventure. It’s definitely not about the hardest, highest or whatever. I think, that for me is about finding new ways of ice climbing. But to be honest, it’s all about fame and women!
Of course, we can not escape from a series of questions like "Most", What is your favorite dry-tooling area? What is it that you want to go back?
Dry tooling area? Well for me, dry tooling is just training, that’s not proper climbing! But, I can tell you about the best place for ice and mixed climbing. Thats Helmcken Falls, Canada, BC. Is just unreal and cant be compared to anything else!
The most beautiful route which you do? What contributed to the fact that deserves to be called ?
That must be a route that climbs the ceiling of Crystal Ice Cave in Vatnajökull glacier. Climbing in there was totally new experience for all of us. Rahel and I weren't even sure if it is going to work out at all. Besides, this cave is just stunning! It isa really beautiful place, with crystal ice that goes from perfect transparency, bright white and all shades of blue!
Climbing on Iceland. Photo: Tim Kemple
Favorite climbing gear, which would you recommend to anyone?
Black Diamond Express Ice Screws, Fuel Ice Tool, Stinger crampon…
Apparently, outside climbing, there are other hobbies... What do you like doing in your free time, when not climbing? (answer "I read climbing websites" is not correct )
Free ride mountain biking and skiing, white water kayaking… But to be honest, with a growing family I changed my priorities, and in the last couple of years, climbing and family takes most of my time.
Boulder Cocoon in Prilep. Photo: Klemen Profile on fb
The most difficult mountain route, which you ascent? What factors made up for the difficulties? You encourage, or reborn to repeat it?
Climbing is way more than technical difficulty and grade. For me, climbing is all about adventure and unknown, its all about feelings and experiences, its all about what you learn in the process, its all about how far you push yourself, and its about much more. Therefore, its difficult to pick up one route and claim it is the hardest one. But there is a route the ranks really high on all of those criteria., and I can say, that my proudest climbing achievement was climbing to the top of Helmcken falls for the first time via a new route Spray on… Top, WI 10, M9+, 250 m, Helmcken Falls, Wels gray Provincial Park, Canada, BC, with a mate of mine Tim Emmett.
Climbing equipment is evolving all the time, skills of climbers also grow. How do you think, where will go mixed climbing?
That’s a tough one! Mixed climbing is part of ice climbing or alpinism if you want. Therefore, it should be seen in that context. But for the sake of argument, I could say that mixed climbing already had some ups and downs, and it looked like it hit the wall a couple of times already, but we manage to find a way to progress. I believe its gonna be the same in the future. Im not sure where is going, but for sure higher and harder!
What do you think is the best advice for beginners (and not only) winter climbers?
Live, Climb, Repeat. Enjoy the process and push yourself.
Sailing on Greenland. See movie from this trip. Photo: Klemen Premrl
Winter is already coming to an end. You will throw your gear into the closet and get back to the rocks? Or you cannot give up and you'll be somewhere else to look for the rocking?
Usually I have a couple of projects lined up for upcoming winter, and when those are done, all of my ice climbing gear goes directly to the closet. Then is T shirt rock climbing time! For sure, if opportunity for a good adventure arises, you don't have to ask me twice to get that dusty ice climbing gear out of the closet and have some more fun on ice.
Other interviews from series "Who is who?"
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