2017-04-23

Roche des Nants, "Mustapha", 200m, 6b

We were eager to follow up Saturday's cragging with a longer multi pitch route. The weather forecast predicted rain for most of our usual stomping grounds in the high mountains, so we looked North-West to the Jura instead. Since this mostly consists of hills and low mountains there are few choices for long routes, the most famous one I've already climbed. We settled on the "Mustapha", 200m of consistently hard limestone.

The lower section of the wall.
Luigi in the second pitch.

Mark and Andrey made up one rope team while Luigi and I were the other. Since Mark and I were involved in the outing we of course had to get lost trying to find the route. We parked the car in the wrong spot and headed up a trail that fit the description in the route book pretty well. We explored a T-junction to the right for a few minutes before heading up the other direction for another 20. Both turned out to be wrong and we retreated back down to the car, driving back where we came from for a few hundred meters before finally setting out on the right path.

Nice belay cave.
Luigi dangling off the final needle.

Rock-paper-scissors determined that Luigi and I would go first and that I would get the first lead. It was quite chilly in the morning and touching the cold rock made our fingers go numb right away. This improved once the sun hit the West facing wall around pitch 4 or so. The start of the route features a tricky move to get off the ground at the very start but then continues very easy, hardly warranting a 6a+ grade. Luckily it got harder and more consistent in the later pitches.

Cruising to the top.
Proof that it's steeper than it looks in the previous pictures...

We decided to climb the harder 6b variant for the final exit pitch instead of the normal 5c. The needle of rock ahead looked too beautiful not to climb it. It was Luigi's lead and he had a total blast in that pitch. It's vertical with crimpy side pulls on superb rock. It features a giant jug halfway up which Luigi used to dangle off with just one hand, enjoying the views monkey style. Climbing hardly gets better than this ;-)

All smiles...
...standing on the top.

The descent proved a tricky affair of scrambling down steep slopes with loose gravel and pine cones. Very slippery and oftentimes quite exposed over vertical drops. The guide books can't really make up their mind on whether to suggest rappelling down the route or walking off, with some editions recommending one and some the other. Now we know why. When we make it back to our car we see the only other car that shared the parking lot with us in the morning has its window smashed in. Supposedly to get to the stuff left on the back seat. Driving back we pass another such car. Switzerland is usually very safe and people generally trust one another. Disappointing to see counter examples like this ;-/

Mark.
Andrey contemplating the climbing potential of a wall on the descent.

I make it back home in time at half past 4 to meet Mel and Christian and stroll through the wildlife park together. Mel had promised to take family pictures of Anita, Leonie and I as a birthday present to Leonie and we took advantage of the beautiful weather to do just that. Thank you!

Luigi and I are psyched and try to turn Saturday and Sunday's successful outings into a hat trick by going again on Monday. Unfortunately there's been so much fresh snow in the mountains that we had to bail. Can't win every time.