Often, the best new frontiers are the undiscovered parts of our own backyard. Case in point: Laserz, a mountain in the Lienzer Dolomites of southern Austria, where Lama put up a first ascent with partner Peter Ortner in 2012.
“That’s a really, really nice rock tower,” says Lama. “It’s a special rock to climb on because it’s very rough and structured. It’s definitely more moderate climbing—there are some 5.10 routes up there—but it’s not even very well known in Austria.”
Laserz, a limestone tooth, has dozens of routes, but there are plenty of other nearby climbs in this east Tyrol region of Austria. Start by driving to Dolomitenhütte, a hut that hangs off a spectacular ridge about seven miles outside of the city of Lienz and a 90-minute hike from Laserz. From this hut, guides take climbers, skiers, and hikers on excursions in the surrounding forests and spires. At the end of the day, evenings are surprisingly—and wonderfully—civilized, with free-flowing beer and rib-sticking meals full of local meats and buttery roasted potatoes.
Dolomitenhütte offers accommodations near Laserz and other alpine climbs and hiking trails.
Austrian climber David Lama was the youngest person to conquer an 8b+ route. He is also a junior world champion, a two-time winner of the European Youth Cup, and the 2008 IFSC World Cup champion in lead climbing and bouldering. But he gathered the most headlines for his historic ascent of the 3,600-foot Southeast Ridge of Patagonia’s infamous Cerro Torre in 2012. Called the Compressor Route, it had repelled many other climbers—and had been the center of a controversy over drilling bolts into rock faces. In 2013, Lama is attempting first ascents in Pakistan, Austria, and China.
David Lama's Gear Pick: Mammut Rock Rider Helmet
Climbing requires a lot of gear, but even before you leave the ground, you need to protect your noggin. “I really like to have lightweight helmets,” says Lama. “They might not last as long as the hardshell ones but for all the climbing and the kind of climbing I do, being light and being able to move fast is really important.”