2013-10-20

Wiwannihorn (3001m) via Steinadler (5b, 530m)

After the previous days epic on the Gross Öugstchummuhorn we get up at 7 o'clock in the morning to climb our main objective for the weekend: 13 pitches up the Wiwannihorn (3001m). Since this route faces south we are hoping for an easier time with less snow and ice than yesterday. The weather forecast isn't optimal, predicting rain and snow later in the day. The guide book explicitly warns against entering the route in unsure weather conditions as a retreat isn't always possible. Thus we decide to climb fast ;-)

Outhouse with a view. The only toilet available as the water supply for the other one was frozen.
Sunrise.

First we need to get into our boots however. Andrey could literally pour water out of his when we came back yesterday. Both climbing shoes and mountaineering boots are still soaking wet, not even the snow stuck to them melted in the night. Sticking your feet in the shoes makes wet sucking noises like a pump. Curiously enough we experienced this as a relief and warm compared to our climbing shoes when we came down yesterday. All a matter of perspective/reference I guess.

Start of Steinadler.
Find the bolts!

We start up the route proper at 9:00 in the morning. The rock is mostly dry and this time we use our climbing shoes from the very beginning, making very good progress. The actual climbing is more sustained than yesterday and a lot of fun. Mostly slabby, with some very exposed sections and some nice cracks. We get into a very efficient rhythm and advance quickly. Having passed the crux pitch and all pitches rated 5+ we believe to only have easy cruising ahead of us. Very wrong. Again the ridge turns out to be more tricky than the actual climbing. It is very long, very exposed, very unprotected and very icy and snowy.

Yesterday's ridge. We climbed that fucker in the dark!

I have bloody ankles from breaking through deep snow in climbing shoes. Annoyed by the treacherous snow I try to avoid it and balance/jump from rocky island to rocky island instead. Takes some time and leads to an erroneous course. We reach the summit at 14:00, just when it starts snowing lightly. The last entry in the summit book is weeks old and celebrates being the last ascent of the season - not quite ;-)

Andrey admiring the exposure on the ridge.

From the summit it is a T5-T6 scramble down a well marked ridge to a rappel piste. By the time we are setting up the first rappel it starts snowing in earnest and the mountain above us disappears in leaden clouds. We only need three rappels this time, stretching the last one a little bit by (intentionally!) sliding off the end of our ropes and scrambling the last few meters.

Summit!
Chrütighorn (3020m).

Back at the hut we learn from Felicitas that she had last seen the other climbing couple through her binoculars, still going up and still 2 pitches away from the summit ridge. They must have a hell of a time now, climbing in a white out with hours still to go ahead of them. Speed is safety! We organize our gear, warm up a bit and hike back down into the valley. I'm back at home, soaking in my bath tub at 23:00 in the night. Still glowing with pride at a very long, very adventurous and very successful weekend. Thanks Andrey for being such a good sport and partner!

The scramble down from the summit, well marked.
Last rappel for the weekend.
Beautiful dusk.