My brother Torsten's girlfriend, Sarah, diagnosed him as being "adventure deprived". She sent him to me for treatment. I got a whole weekend to cure this gravely serious infliction and I think in the end we've been successful ;-)
We started with an easy warm-up, climbing in the gym Friday evening. While having some prior experience Torsten isn't actually into climbing. So I gave him a quick refresher on belay safety, clipping on leads and general climbing technique.
I picked up a rental car Saturday morning and headed for Brüggler with Torsten, Andrey, Ivan and Sasa. Brüggler is a 270m slab of limestone. It is well bolted and features climbing routes in a wide range of difficulties. Using 60m half ropes Torsten, Sasa and me made a three person rope team while Andrey and Ivan constituted "the Russians" climbing party.
Since the idea was to challenge them a bit the three of us started on via Priska. Rated at 6a+ (mandatory 6a) it is well beyond what you'd normally consider an entry level beginners route. I was leading, allowing the others to follow on top rope and climb simultaneously. We made good progress and sent the initial 5a, 5c and 5c+ pitches. However, at that point the route Andrey and Ivan were climbing traversed, cutting across ours. Andrey was belaying from an anchor just a few meters above us.
Not willing to waste time just "hanging around" (please excuse the pun) I decided to try and circle around him. Climbing with two ropes I figured it should be possible to minimize rope drag while doing so. However, since I was now no longer on a proper route the bolts were few and far between. I climbed a crazy zig zag line crossing several routes and through 6b terrain. Once I reached what I thought to be top I discovered that the anchor had been dismantled and only two naked screws were sticking out of the rock.
I kept climbing and traversed far away from my last clip. By now rope drag was insane and I had to pull on the ropes with force to have them follow me. While the terrain got easier a fall would not have been a good idea with about 7 meters of diagonal run-out.
Just when I had finally found and set up a new station and Torsten was starting to follow me, we heard growling thunder and clouds started rolling into the valley. Soon after the first rain fell, making it just so much harder to climb on wet rock. We decided to retreat and I rappelled back down to Torsten and Sasa. Of course by now the sun was shining again and the rock on this south facing wall dried within mere minutes. We still continued our retreat all the way down.
We met up with the Russians again and had some lunch. At this point Izabela and Rafał joined us. They had followed the planning email thread and had decided to come without telling anyone ;-) Apparently they had been climbing a few routes over from us and even shouted across, but we didn't hear. It didn't take long for the rain to return and this time it wasn't just a warning shot. We reached the car dripping wet.
On Sunday we picked up Ben and went to hike the Speer (1950m), Europe's largest Nagelfluh mountain. This is a weird type of rock, some sort of molasse conglomerate that looks as if someone had cemented lots of pebbles together. We chose the Kletterweg route, leading up the steep north face. It is almost a via ferrata, featuring lots of steel cables and metal pins as climbing aids. They were much appreciated as it was still quite muddy and wet from the rain on the day prior. Muddy round pebbles are slippery ;-)
We overtook a family of four on the way up. Mom, dad and brother and sister. The kids were quite young and dad was belaying them by tying them into some sort of leash. Looked funny and quite daring as the route was exposed and not easy at all. In fact, I wouldn't want to climb it in rain or ice. We had to cross some small patches of snow as it was.
The summit is a bit anti-climatic as the approach from the other side is easy and popular and lots of people crowd around the summit cross. We still enjoyed nice vistas and my traditional summit Wasabi nuts. For our return trip we decided to hike the ridge leading to Chüemettler (1703m). While not as high we enjoyed that summit all to ourselves and consequently liked it much better. We found another via ferrata type trail leading back into the valley where we parked our car. At some point we deviated from the trail proper and scrambled down a very steep slope for some extra excitement.
Back on the gravel road towards the parking lot we stopped for a quick bath in a beautiful pool below a waterfall that had already caught our attention on the way up. Cold but very nice and refreshing on a hot day - washing off all the sweat and sunscreen.
We were home quickly enough that Torsten and I could still enjoy a barbecue and beer for dinner on my terrace before I dropped him off at the train station for the return to Germany. Fantastic weekend!
950m elevation gain, 10.2km