Climbing Brüggler

Desperate for some outdoors action after we've had rain every day for thirty days or so, Iljya, MaVi, Mark and I decided to gamble on the weather forecast and try to scale Brüggler once more. We have a window of a few hours before the daily monsoon is supposed to hit us around noon. The narrow winding mountain road leading to the climb is so wet that some parts are running with almost an inch of water. Not a good sign.

Dark streaks of water on the wall.
Mark coming up on the first pitch.

Mark and I make one rope team and Iljya joins up with his fiancee, who has no multi-pitch experience at all. We set out to climb "Direkte Plattenwand", a 5c, while the others are on "Highway", 5b. Since we are using half ropes, we can link multiple pitches in one go. I lead the first pitch and of course get off route and venture into much harder terrain ("Die Namenlose" 6a+). We do a bit of simulclimbing before the rope drag becomes so bad that I have to stop where I am and improvise an anchor from a single bolt and a sling around an hour glass rock formation. I also ran out of quickdraws - I've used 15 on 60 meters of climbing, about one every 4 meters.

Mark passes me and after a few bolts decides to try to traverse back onto our original, easier, route. My improvised hanging belay is quite uncomfortable. I try to shift my weight a bit to get the circulation going in my legs again, slip and crash painfully into the wall. Mark manages to get back onto the original route and we switch leads again. My next lead ends when the weather finally catches up with us and we get caught in a shower of hail that turns the wall into an unclimbable slide.

Iljya and MaVi on a double (couple? ;-) ) rappel.

The hail plays a staccato rhythm on our helmets while I set up the first rappel back down. I takes us two and half rappels back to the ground which means we were about 150 meters up. We got to climb all the interesting parts of the route, the final pitches are easy bushwhacking through trees and scrub. We meet back up with Iljya and MaVi at the car. They bailed much earlier than us and waited, shivering in the cold.

Try climbing this!
Puddles of hail on the grass below me.


Climbing Gallerie Weesen

A quick after-work climbing outing. Again to the Gallerie Weesen. Andrey, Iljya, Rafał, Alex and me. It was mostly a day of fail for me. I tried a bunch of routes, some of which I had already climbed cleanly on previous trips, but struggled on all of them. To make matters worse I lost my key in the Mobility rental car and could only retrieve it on Monday.

En route.
The Gallerie.
Lake Walen with the Mürtschenstock dominating the skyline.
Where, oh where, shall we go?
Andrey in action.
Speed climbing Andrey vs Sören ;-)


Climbing Gallerie Weesen

Sam and I used the great weather on Sunday to go for a quick climbing trip to the "Gallerie Weesen". We chose "Verschneidung" as our warm up route. It starts with a 5c pitch and continues on a 6b. It was my turn to lead for the second pitch. I had an incredibly hard time and barely managed to climb it even after giving up and pulling on gear. I was starting to doubt my ability and was quite frustrated until we rappelled back down to the base and checked the guide book again. It turned out I had tried to lead "Maxima", a 7b. This redeemed me somewhat, especially considering that I have never managed a clean lead of a 7b, indoors or outdoors (I got close a few times in the gym though). I continued climbing "Deviation" 6a+ and "Übeltäter" 6b+ while Sam chose "Wixblau" 5c and "Anfängerglück Variante" 6a. Each one a solid 30 meters long and using the full length of my rope. All the while the sun was burning and added half a grade of difficulty because it greased the holds with a nice mixture of sweat and sunscreen. Good times! ;-)

View towards the Glarus valley and the village of Weesen.
I think Google photos auto-awesome might have gone a bit over the top with this one? Then again, it was blurry to begin with ;-)
Our warm up route worms around the roof.
Pro-tip: Read the labels before heading up a route.
By the books professional belay stance courtesy of Sam.


Rigi Marsch 2016

Same procedure as every year: we participated in the annual hike through the night before ascenscion day. As usual, the route starts in the village of Bremgarten and follows the river Reuss for 45 kilometers before finally climbing 1500 meters over the final 5 kilometers up mount Rigi.

First light of the morning.

The hike gets more popular each year. This time a record 2363 hikers participated, 1679 of whom actually made it all the way to the summit. We started as a group of four: first timers Sandra and Björn, Tim and me. Tim had to bail after the first 20 km or so because he was wearing boots he hadn't used in more than ten years and consequently got nasty blisters. Björn and Sandra were great troopers and we reached the summit at 8 in the morning after starting at 8 in the evening, giving us a nice and even 12 hour start to finish time. The weather was picture perfect during all this time. Starry night with frozen ground (slippery on the mountain!) and blue skies during the day.

The monarch: Mt Pilatus.
Björn and Sandra. Not far anymore...
Eyes on the objective.
View from the summit.

Returning back home from the mountain I barely had time to shower and to take a 40 minute power nap before Anita and I headed for the airport. We were flying to Germany to attend my grandmother's funeral. She had finally been redeemed at the age of 92 after a long period of suffering from Parkinson's disease. Rest in peace Oma.

Final steps for Björn...
...and Sandra.
Lake Zug.
Obligatory summit selfie.


Schlierengrat (1709m)

The weather forecast for the weekend was quite bad, with lots of rain and snow even at low altitudes. Yet Paweł was, in his own words, desperate. His two young kids usually prevent him from going on longer outings but this time his wife was travelling with them. Thus the four of us, Anita, Björn, Paweł and me, drove to Schoried in order to hike the Schlierengrat.

Enchanted forest.

It was snowing the moment we stepped out of the car. Leaving Zürich in the rain it felt like we had arrived in another world. A magical winter wonderland. The fresh green of spring and blooming flowers covered in fresh snow. It didn't take long before we were breaking trail through twenty centimeters of fresh powder in a schizophrenic world of flourishing vegetation and ice.

The poor flowers must feel deceived.
Anita scrambling up the scarp.

We scrambled up a pathless couloir, trying to find our own way before we planned to get onto the trail proper. This proved to be too tedious, so we abandoned that idea and stuck to the trail instead. Anita decided to strike out on her own at this point and stay in the valley, follow the Schliere river and meet up with us at the end.

Starting on the ridge proper.

I remembered seeing this ridge from my last hike two weeks ago. At the time there was very little snow and I figured two weeks further and we'd only have to expect "patches of snow". This is how I announced the hike to the others when I planned it. My prediction turned out to be almost comically wrong. Or, as my companions so pointedly remarked, yes, there was only a single, very big, patch of snow. We were breaking trail on the ridge all the way.

Once we reached the end of the mountain range and came back down to the valley we met back up with Anita in the single open restaurant. A quick meal and we parted ways again. Anita waiting for the bus while we returned to our starting point, this time following the river Anita came up on. Her lonely footsteps in the snow were almost completely covered again, it was snowing so hard.

It turns out the bus is only running in the summer months, but Anita got lucky and hitched a ride in a police car. Must be the girl bonus. Earlier, on the way through the valley, a random farmer invited her in for a coffee. "It's such a long way!". She declined ;-)

One tree white and in bloom, the others white with snow ;-)

We covered around 32km and 1500m elevation gain. Fantastic atmosphere in great company. The only downer is that the knee of my bad leg acted up on the way down. This happened for the first time ever during a hike four weeks ago and really pisses me off. It became so bad that my gait deteriorated to a painful limping hobble. Anyway. "Tritt sich fest".

Thanks to Paweł and Björn for donating their photos!