I was busy with the thing I love! Climbing! Climbing in the alpine on rock snow and ice. Just being out there I feel happy.
After a very hard alpine summer where I was working on my project in the Rätikon (bailed very close to finish it) the snow arrived too early and I had to abandon the project. But there is always a next summer and I will try again as hard as I can to complete this dream. That’s for sure.
In November I visited the Canyon Lands National Park in Utah for some very adventurous sandstone tower climbing. Our team was confronted with all kinds of rock from super solid to super dirt climbing and we enjoyed it to say the least. Bruises, cuts, broken bones and dehydration that’s the dess aka desert. A more detailed report will follow on this blog.
After the return, the backs of my hands were still dump for a view weeks…. While waiting for the winter and the cold I spent some time in the Ticino where we did lot´s of sport climbing. I was very keen to explore Ticino from a total different approach as I did it for the last 10 year with bouldering. There are some 1th class crags with super cool routes on very good rock.
Winter finally arrived and we started the ice-climbing season at the 6th of January with the obligatory Thron (WI5) at the Averstal in 2h base to base. Two days later I started up with Wolfgang for a nice icefall at Zillis (Swiss) but in ice-climbing it´s a bad combination if the motivation is high and the temperatures too : ).
So we ended up abseiling from two Abalakovs because the ice was thin and water behind it. For the last rappel we slinged a small tree. I was not connected to it and when Wolfi rappelled over the edge the tree started moving out of the ground. I immediately jumped around the tree and hold it back with all my strength until Wolfi was safely at the ground. He was wondering when I pulled up the rope again and lowered from a more thrust full belay. When I reached Wolfi I just said: ”Don´t ask what happened you don’t want to know!
After a more detailed inspection I realised that the tree was more frozen to the dirt and not very well connected with it´s roots to the ground. Check your abseils properly.
Two first ascent in the Val Ferrera
“The Winners loose it all some Day” (WI5/ M6 X/ 300m/ clean)
After me and Hanno soloed the “Rotes Vergissmeinnicht “ (WI4+/ 140m) at the Val Fererra, we spotted a crazy looking yellow ice formation hanging in a big overhang just on the opposite side of the small village Ausserferrera. After a view days we returned to try this idea.
The first 200m are easy mixed terrain on snow rock and some vegetation. Then we climbed a traverse to the left that was very loose and overhanging with almost no protection. We climbed this traverse in a big 80 meter pitch. Then the rock gets little better and we continued over huge blocks stacked together to reach the start of the ice. We climbed the yellow hanging icicles in one pitch with moderate difficulty. “The Winners loose it all some Day” (WI5/ M6 X/ 300m/ clean). We left no traces on the climb and took all the gear with us we used for protection despite the slings we used for rappelling. Here is a topo for the archive. It´s hard to recommend the route because of it s very loose rock flakes on the travers pitch. So it´s maybe a good adventure for the lovers of the loose.
“Piece Of Mind” (WI5+/ M6/ 250m/ clean)
On this climb we had a close call. In 15 years of climbing you get your routine, your speed, and most important your experience. I had close calls in my climbing life and most of them happened because of a misinterpretation of conditions or that it simply is not what you expected it to be. On clean climbing these misinterpretations can be fatal. I am aware about this fact and very conscious how I behave in the mountains. These close call situations have the character of an accident. You don´t calculate with.
It was Hanno´s first whipper in such alpine terrain on ice and he is climbing now for 30 years. We had luck that both of us stayed unharmed.
After this wake up call there was still enough ice so that we still could climb the pitch. Followed by a moderate mixed pitch we reached the hanging icicles where we thought would be the crux of this first ascent but with some bouldery moves on nice granite we reached the ice and topped out.
This first ascent is a really nice climb with a big versatility from nice ice climbing to mixed climbing on solid granite high above the Val Fererra. A route I can recommend.
We realised this first ascent in clean style. No fixed gear in the whole wall!
Keep this climb clean and save your gear for following adventures!