2017-05-28

"Mummery", 6c, 350m, Handegg, Grimselpass

Famously disorganized I knew that I wanted to go climbing on Sunday but come Saturday night I still had no idea where or with whom. So I pinged a bunch of people and, never one to disappoint, Luigi was up for it. This left the question of where to go. I knew Arne and Pia were at the Grimselpass, intending to climb Fair Hands Line. We could piggyback on their preparation and choose a route right next to them. And so we did.

On the approach.
Sören.

Arne and Pia were camped out at the pass while Luigi and I only drove up there in the morning. We hiked the short distance from the parking lot together and started climbing around 10am. Luigi led the first pitch which already packed quite a punch with its 6b+ rating and strenuous layback sequence on a narrow fingercrack. I took a fall trying to follow through that sequence.

Luigi.
Luigi.

It continued almost as hard as it started. We kept alternating leads and the pitches went as 6b+, 6b, 6b+, 6b, 6a+, 6a, 6c, 5c, 6b+, 5b. The Remy brothers are famous for sparsely protected routes on blank granite slabs. Mummery is no exception. This particular route was rebolted in 2010 and the crux sections are protected a little better than usual, but on the easier pitches you have to squint to find the next bolt.

A rare dihedral - welcome!
Luigi. As seen from Arne in the other route.

I was about ready to shit my pants and call for mommy halfway up the wall. Slabs are nerve-wrecking to climb. At these difficulties if the rock isn't vertical it means it will be blank instead. Sheer granite. No cracks, no protrusions. Just unblemished rock. The last bolt some distance below your feet, the next one still a long way out of reach. And the only technique available to you is friction climbing: hands flat against the wall and feet smearing on the rock. Extremely delicate - the slightest imbalance will throw you off into a painful tumble.

Spectacular surroundings.
Bolts?! We don't need no stinkin' bolts. Who needs protection anyways?

Luckily Luigi found his granite mojo and led us through the crux. Impressive feat. In the end both of us cheated on a few moves, mostly for calming our nerves. Stepping on a bolt after sneaking up blank rock for meters on end is good for a big mental boost! But other than that it was a pretty smooth and fast ascent. We topped out at the shared exit of our routes way ahead of Pia and Arne.

Happy at the top.
Arne still climbing Fair Hands Line.

The descent is on stairs along the world's steepest funicular. It's still too early in the season for it to be running, so it's a good exercise regime for your thighs.

Pia.
Lots of steps to go...

Some guidebooks give the overall difficulty of the route as "only" 6b+, but I chose to stick to the 6c grade the Remy brothers originally assigned to it and later confirmed in their guidebook Dreams of Switzerland. Whatever grade you choose to trust - it's hard!

Arne and Pia still two pitches from the top. And a monster butterfly ;-)
Cooling our feet after getting roasted on the granite frying pan.