2017-02-24

Skiing Laax & Climbing Gallerie Amden

Our project manager from the New York office was visiting for a few days so the team had to give him the full Swiss experience. Cheese fondue on Thursday followed by a day of skiing in Laax on Friday (what a harsh workday!). Dense clouds made for bad visibility at some altitudes but provided beautifully dramatic vistas higher up. We even had some fresh powder from the night before and did a little bit of off-piste skiing. I believe the Swiss technical term for a day like this is "Huregeil!" ;-)

On Sunday Luigi, Silvia and I headed for the Gallerie Amden for some rock climbing. It started out well enough with us climbing Kurzprogramm 6a, Bonsai 6a+ and Djebel Amilah 6b+. The latter one made interesting by the fact that my 50 meter rope is just barely long enough and the belayer must stretch a bit to be able to lower the climber all the way to the ground. Good idea to tie off the end of the rope! We then migrated to the forest sector and I started up Opus I 6b+. The route completely kicked my ass. I fumbled my way most of the way up with lots of cheating and resting before finally giving up. Luigi managed to climb it cleanly with just a bit of cursing so I gave it another go on top rope. This time I figured out a sequence that might work for me, but still failed to send.

Luigi and Silvia on the top of the ladder leading to the gallerie.
Lowering from Djebel Amilah.
More overhanging than it seemed...

The route is quite technical and varied with three distinct cruxes. The first one requires a high foot placement to reach past an overhang. The tricky bit here is that once you pull yourself past the overhang you no longer see your feet and finding purchase is correspondingly difficult. The next difficulty is a move where you get a sharp crimpy undercling for your left hand and need to reach up with your right to a vertical pinch. This completely shut me down. My crippled right hand (I can't move the first joint of my middle finger at all, thanks to an accident) simply isn't strong enough to squeeze hard enough. My first workaround was trying to use it as a sidepull instead, but the foot placements aren't good enough for that. I finally found a solution involving a tiny knob that I could squeeze my thumb onto. Finally, the last crux section is a big slopery low undercling you need to use to keep pressure on a polished slippery foothold while reaching high around a bulgy protrusion. Really fun to execute once you've figured it out - the difficulty is mostly in your head because it's such an unusual move and the overhang feels like it's pushing you out. All in all a very interesting route, but that day it just crushed me.

Lake Walen.
Luigi in Djebel Amilah.
The final mini-roof before the last few vertical meters to the anchor.