2 World-Class Climbers Scale Europe’s Tallest Chimney

Feb 2, 2021, 7:35 AM

Soaring 360 meters into the sky, the Trbovlje Power Station in Slovenia is home to Europe’s tallest chimney.

Just the mere sight of it is enough to make most tremble at the knees but two Slovenian climbers saw it as a chance of a lifetime.

In October 2020, Janja Garnbret and Domen Škofic became the first people to free climb the chimney’s new route, which is now the tallest artificial multi-pitch route in the world.

The pair, who had just a rope to catch them if they fell, were successful on their second attempt after over seven hours of climbing.

“It’s definitely the most special thing I’ve done in my climbing career. It is climbing, but it’s a combination of just about everything I experienced before, just combined in one thing,” Škofic told CNN Sport.

Both climbers are world-class in their own right.

Škofic, 26, was a climbing prodigy and won the Lead Climbing World Cup title in 2016; Garnbret is quite simply one of the most talented sport climbers on the planet.

The 21-year-old has won multiple world championships and World Cup titles and is one of the favorites to win gold when climbing eventually makes its debut at the Tokyo Olympics.

Despite their expertize, the challenge was still way out of their comfort zone, with both more accustomed to indoor climbing where the wall is usually no more than 30 meters high.

This route, however, contained 13 pitches (or sections) and involved rope techniques that are very different from what they are normally used to.

The chimney itself was built in 1976 and used to emit emissions out of the valley where it’s situated. It’s been nonoperational since 2014.

‘Not in my comfort zone’

But the new route, specifically designed over the course of five years, provided a real endurance test for the two climbers.

“It definitely helps you grow as a person,” Garnbret told CNN Sport. “You get a new perspective on climbing and you just get a different feeling, like something I’ve never done before.

“It really helps because I’m a person who is always looking for a challenge, who always wants to do something new, to do something better.

“So this is definitely a cool project and it was not in my comfort zone. I had to step out and just enjoy the whole process.”

Their first attempt took nearly 12 hours and both climbers fell on a number of pitches. Carrying heavy backpacks left them physically exhausted and they realized they hadn’t brought sufficient food and drinks to sustain them.

Undeterred, the pair regrouped and went again four days later, successfully scaling the chimney in seven hours and 32 minutes.

Reaching the top after such a grueling climb is a feeling that neither will forget in a hurry.

“When I think back now, I remember how uncomfortable it felt, how it was hot, it was cold, it was windy, it was everything,” Garnbret added.

“I also said one time that I never want to go again, that this was my last try and I never want to go again. But it was a super amazing experience and yeah, I was really happy when I came on the top.”

‘I was more scared looking up’

Although heights come with the territory for climbers, neither had ever experienced such a vertical before.

Škofic still remembers the stomach-churning feeling of standing at the foot of the chimney, looking up as the top disappeared into the clouds.

“I was more scared looking up, watching the chimney. I mean, I had huge respect,” he said.

“But when I was on the wall, I kind of fell into the climbing so much that I basically forgot about the heights.”

In addition to being an exhausting physical challenge, both agreed that it tested their mental capacity just as much.

Their very safety was dependent on maintaining focus for hours on end and every mistake counts when you’re dangling on a climb like this.

Garnbret, who was also comfortable with the dizzying heights, initially struggled with the technique of falling off such a surface.

Indoor walls tend to have a slight overhang which prevents climbers from smashing into the wall when they fall off but the chimney didn’t provide such luxury.

“The chimney had the same angle for three hundred and sixty meters. It was almost vertical,” she said.

“So when you fell, you fell hard into the wall. So it’s something different […] I had to get used to the falling to just keep this out of my mind. Like to not be scared to fall.”

After reflecting on the achievement, neither has ruled out tackling a similar challenge in the future.

Until then, both are excited about the possibility of climbing competitions returning after the pandemic and Garnbret has her eyes firmly focused on the Olympics.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News


North Carolina man found guilty of 2 felonies, more after he tried running over homeless man & his cat

A man accused of attempting to run down a homeless man and his cat in May 2021 in North Carolina was found guilty.
16 hours ago
A man is charged with attempted murder after shooting a Chicago police officer responding to a dome...

Man charged after shooting Chicago police officer in “ambush” while responding to domestic incident in Little Italy

A man is charged with attempted murder after shooting a Chicago police officer responding to a domestic incident Friday morning.
16 hours ago
CHEVY CHASE, MD - JUNE 08: Law enforcement officers stand guard as protesters march past Supreme Co...
Associated Press

High court marshal seeks enforcement of anti-picketing laws

The marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court has asked officials to step up enforcement to prohibit picketing outside the homes of the justices.
16 hours ago
FILE (Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Bodies of 3 missing kids, woman found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of three young children and a woman believed to be their mother have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, police believe this is a homicide.
16 hours ago
FILE: The U.S. Supreme Court is shown on April 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsc...
ACACIA CORONADO and ED WHITE, Associated Press

Texas Supreme Court blocks order that resumed abortions

The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order that gave some abortion clinics confidence to resume performing abortions.
16 hours ago
UVALDE, TX - JUNE 25: A sign reads "I hope u know how loved u are" at a memorial for the victims of...
Shimon Prokupecz, Rosa Flores and Eric Levenson, CNN

Pete Arredondo resigns from Uvalde city council, newspaper reports

Uvalde school district police chief Pedro "Pete" Arredondo has resigned his separate position on the Uvalde city council in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in May, according to a statement attributed to him in Saturday's Uvalde Leader-News.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
2 World-Class Climbers Scale Europe’s Tallest Chimney