red bull dual ascent
Route setters bolting climbs on the Versasca Dam, in preparation for Red Bull Dual Ascent; (photo/True Color Films via Red Bull Content Pool)

600-Foot Vertical Race: Climbing Teams Face Off in Red Bull ‘Dual Ascent’

In a word, Red Bull’s upcoming Dual Ascent artificial climbing comp looks mega.

On October 26, 16 top climbers from around the world will gather below the Verzasca Dam in southern Switzerland, and then start climbing up its face.

The challenge: as a roped team, flash or redpoint the 600 feet of climbing on artificial holds overhead — and try not to let the other team get in your head. They’ll be doing the same thing on an identical route right alongside.

Red Bull Dual Ascent

red bull dual ascent
The Verzasca Dam, Switzerland; (photo/True Color Films via Red Bull Content Pool)

Red Bull calls the event “Dual Ascent,” and it’s the first competition we’ve seen of its kind. Multipitch routes haven’t made it into the competitive climbing world until now. The head-to-head format promises to spice up the action, and the teamwork aspect is entirely unorthodox for competitions.

World-class climbers like Sasha DiGiulian, Brazil’s Felipe Camargo, and Switzerland’s own Petra Klingler are on tap. They’ll test their team and individual skills on the identical six-pitch routes, which max out around 5.13d/8b.

“The Verzasca Dam is such a beautiful location — I feel so excited to climb it and hopefully win in my home country,” Klingler said. “No doubt that this new format is going to bring some extra competitiveness from us all and a whole new experience!”

Two days of “time-based qualification” start on October 26. Then after a rest day on the 28th, the teams return to battle it out head-to-head on the 29th.

Athletes will qualify on the Verzasca Dam routes in a time-based format, according to Red Bull. Then, setters will make “some changes” to the routes before the finals, so climbers will still encounter some surprises to overcome.

Unfortunately, it looks like you’ll have to get to the dam to watch Dual Ascent live. Red Bull said there’s “limited space” there for spectators. But not all is lost — you can catch a documentary about the comp on Red Bull TV once it concludes.

“Being invited to take part amongst the first athletes to take on a new concept brings all sorts of challenges technically, but this is what we live for. The competition has been specially designed to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible,” Camargo said. “We hope this also inspires the climbing community and newcomers to take on their own challenges.”

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.