2017-03-28

Mittagfluh South face, "Durststrecke" VI+

The weather was too good not to go climbing. Anita was nice enough to take care of Leonie on my last day of paternity leave (Thank you!). Thus I recruited Arne, Pia, Mark, Tereza and Luigi, who all took a day off work to join me for climbing the Mittagflue South face at the Grimselpass. A good decision it turned out to be!

Arne wearing his harness like a cool 90s hip hop kid.
The approach over some old avalanche debris. You can see the steep west face and slabby south face in the center.

It started out as a bit of a junk show with Arne forgetting his ropes at home and stopping in Meiringen on the way to buy a new one (the advantages of climbing on a weekday!). Luigi and I teamed up and started up the 350m granite slab on the route "Durststrecke". Pia and Arne would follow us. Pia needed to be back in Zürich late afternoon and the idea was that we could make rappelling more efficient if they shared our half ropes on the way down. Meanwhile, Mark and Tereza started up the much harder route "Abadia" on the West face. They'd rejoin us later when their route merges with the "Südkante" halfway up on our face.

You can barely see me, but I've just crossed the magical line into the sun!
Luigi brought luxurious food.

It was cold in the morning and everyone wore gloves and down jackets. But once the sun hit the rock we immediately switched to all out summer mode. Luigi climbed shirtless and started humming Summer Jam on endless repeat - getting this awful song thoroughly stuck in my head for the day. Thanks, but no thanks for that!

Mr Summer Jam Luigi coming up.
The route's namesake. "Durststrecke" (dry spell) which supposedly ends here.
Sören.

If there's anything to criticise about our choice of route it's that it is too easy. Some guidebooks grade it as 5b+ while others imply a 5c/6a. We agreed that on the length of 9 pitches there were maybe a handful of single moves that warranted a 5c or 6a grade, but the entire rest of the route was very easy. Luigi and I simul-climbed and linked pitches. I started dismantling quickdraws and use the carabiners separately when I started running out of gear to place. Luigi didn't bother and simply clipped only every second piece of protection.

Luigi.
Mark.
Arne, Pia, Luigi.

We topped out in less than three hours. Arne and Pia quickly caught up with us and we didn't waste any time on the rappel so Pia would make her appointment back in Zürich. While she and Arne headed back right away, Luigi and I chilled in the sun, waiting for Mark and Tereza to finish. We had passed them halfway up the wall when they were still headed up while we were already going down.

Tereza cruising up the easy but very scenic "Südkante".
Mark on the "Südkante". Maybe oh so slightly cheating with the camera angle to make it look steeper ;-)
Simul-Rappelling.

A super fun day in the sun. While not challenging as a climb it was quite satisfying to confidently run up a wall without any difficulty. Thanks to the gang for sharing their photos with me - especially Arne who took all the best pictures because he was the only one carrying a real camera instead of just a phone.

A tradition to uphold: Luigi dropped his helmet down the slope. A tragedy unfolding in slow motion, unable to do anything about it we just watched and cheered it to stop whenever it'd slow down or looked like it got stuck on a lump of snow or some grass. Quite a scramble to retrieve it.
The pass is still closed at this time of year. We just ignored that and drove on with no issues.