2017-06-17

Girenspitz (2253m) via Toblerone, 6a, 300m

Andrey had discovered this enticing picture of the Girenspitz, a near perfect summit pyramid, a few years ago. It had lingered on our todo list until we finally decided to climb it on Saturday. Mark, Andrey, Luigi and I drove to Wildhaus where we parked the car at the base of the cable car. We were still organizing our gear when a voice over speaker prompted us to please board the cable car as it was about to leave. We had no intention of cheating our way up the mountain. Thus I had an awkward discussion with the disembodied voice - feeling like a crazy person speaking into the air with no idea where the microphone might be hidden. With the threat of being towed away I parked the car a few hundred meters down the road and we finally started hiking up the mountain.

Flowery canyon on the way up.
More grass than rock!
Finally!

It's a well maintained trail that climbs for about 900 meters of altitude. We met a few interesting folks on our way up. One guy was wearing nothing but his underpants and hiking boots while his partner carried a backpack and regular hiking attire. Another party of two had one guy going up the mountain in rubber boots. Both groups were fast and sped past us.

Mark leading the first proper pitch of the day.
Andrey and Sören.
Me leading the 6a crux pitch.

Despite a good weather forecast our peak was shrouded in clouds. The first six pitches are not really climbing at all but more scrambling in steep grassy terrain interspersed with a few low rock barriers. Andrey and Luigi made one rope team and Mark and I the second. Since the pitches were so easy and protected with only a single bolt each anyway we simul-climbed them and didn't bother with the anchors.

Artsy summit book.
Andrey coming up the summit ridge.
Mission accomplished.

After a huge low angle slab proper climbing starts. First following a crack up a steep slab and then along a corner into a system of cracks. The limestone is of very dubious quality with lots of loose choss. This led one person to leave a comment in the summit book: "Schöne Griffe, entweder zum mitnehmen oder grün und weich für den Salat..." (roughly translated as: "Nice holds. Either to take home or green and soft for the salad..."). There's a lot of truth to that. Especially the final few pitches were quite dicey. No protection and tufts of grass as holds. Maybe it's because of this that the summit book contains only about ten entries per year.

Looking back.
Hiking out. Churfirsten on the horizon.
The route.

From a climbing point of view the route is a mixed bag and not particularly rewarding. The unique shape of the mountain and the views from the summit are quite spectacular though and we had a great time. Rappelling less-than-vertical terrain is a bit annoying as managing the ropes becomes difficult. When Mark got lost trying to find the next rappel anchor Andrey commented drily: "Don't worry, it won't rain before Wednesday!", implying we'd abandon Mark on the wall ;-)

Nasty fuckers!

Once back down a nasty surprise awaited me. I had left my big backpack at the base and while we were climbing chamois must have gotten to it and nibbled away at all the salty bits, causing major damage.