2016-10-30

"Fair Hands Line" (6a+, 350m, 10 pitches), Handegg, Grimselpass

Mark and I took advantage of the great weather on Sunday to climb the ten pitches of "Fair Hands Line", one of the many classic routes bolted by the Remy brothers (A nice German article about them: "Hard Rock and Heavy Metal"). They are famous for naming all of their routes after 80s heavy metal bands. We listened to a Motörhead playlist in the car to celebrate this fact ;-) And before you ask - I have no idea why this particular route is called Fair Hands and what the corresponding song would be.

Me leading one of the easier steep pitches. Definitely my favourite compared to the slabs!
Haslital.
Trying, and failing, to keep my eyes open against the sun.

The weather was perfect: overcast, gray and cloudy in the valleys and bright blue skies and sun for us. The fog rolled over a ridge, presenting a dramatic spectacle. The route has been rebolted after a lot of the original gear fell prey to erosion. It is still only very sparsely protected with the potential of nasty falls on ledges and huge granite slabs. We followed the advice in the guide book and brought some cams and nuts.

Mark jamming himself into a chimney.
Beautifully structured rock.
Who said anything about fog?

I chose an unfortunate cam placement and the device walked itself deep into the crack. A "bomber" placement, but unfortunately it turned out to be impossible to extract, despite Mark giving it his best efforts for almost half an hour. Eventually we decided to abandon it there. It became a running joke for the rest of the route that just that little gray .4 cam would be perfect now and make the climbing so much safer ;-)

Hello mom!
Bushwhacking out to the train line.
The sun disappears early in a steep valley in late October!

The route features two crux pitches. Mark led the first one and I got the second one. I have to admit that we both cheated a bit. In my case I'm quite pissed that I did. The second but last pitch is an exposed granite slab with only very fine structures and tiny footholds. The difficulty is primarily psychological because you never quite trust your feet and are traversing far away from your last piece of gear. I successfully climbed all of it but resorted to holding onto the bolt for a few seconds while clipping. Completely unnecessary from a climbing point of view but I needed it to calm my nerves a bit. Urgh.

Rollercoaster?

We had perfect timing, topping out just when the sun met the peaks at the opposite side of the valley. A bit of bushwhacking brought us to the tracks of the Gelmerbahn - at 106% the world's steepest funicular. It wasn't running this late in the year, so we had to walk down the more than a thousand steps right next to it. Fun at first, but thigh-burning after a while.

Another great day out!