2017-08-27

Poncione di Cassina Baggio South Wall (2621m) via Herbstwind (6b, 12 pitches, 420m)

I was having a bit of a déjà vu this Sunday. Arne and I set out to climb the route Herbstwind on the Poncione di Cassino Baggio South Wall. I had already climbed the neighboring route Piccadilly a year ago. We were escaping a bad weather report that predicted thunderstorms then and we did again this time. I freaked out on a blank slab and cheated a move then and I did again this time. I screwed up the rappel then and I did again this time. We witnessed a haphazard party then and we did again this time. We got annoyed by the Gotthard traffic jam then and we did again this time. We had a lot of fun then and we did again this time ;-)

Arne on the approach. The route goes up the right side of the wall, starting in the shadow area.
First pitch. A slab leading into the steep black streak in the middle.
The start is well marked with a little arrow pointing the way ;-)

The route is long and of quite sustained difficulties. They present themselves very differently in the lower half of the route than the upper one though. While the lower half is low angle slabby terrain that requires delicate footwork, the upper half is vertical with very powerful and pumpy moves. The pitches go as 6a+, 3b, 5c, 6a+, 5b, 5c, 5c+, 6a+, 6a+, 6b, 5c+, 5c+.

Me lost in a sea of granite. Long pitch!
Higher up on the same pitch.
Just below the anchor.

Both Arne and I fell on the slabs when we already thought ourselves safe and didn't pay enough attention to our footwork any more. No harm done. We witnessed the leader of another party a few rope lengths behind us take a fall on the exact same pitch. He was quite far above the first bolt and fell for something between 8 and 10 meters back past the anchor. His companions patched him up with their first aid kit and the party bailed. They looked spooked and shaken even at a distance.

Pulling in rope after leading one of the steep top pitches. Pumpy!
Arne coming up past the overhang.
Arne leading the crux pitch.

Arne and I topped out and were on our first rappel back down when it started raining. It was just a fizzle and barely enough to wet the rock for a few minutes, but it confirmed our timing and our choice of going here rather than to the North face we originally wanted to climb. We made quick work of the first few rappels but then missed an anchor and had to improvise because we ran out of rope. Arne down-climbed a few meters unprotected and got us back on track. Except for this little fuckup our maneuvers went very efficiently and we were back at the base of the wall at 5pm. 5 hours of climbing, 2 hours rappelling, 3 hours hiking - I think we got our WHO recommended 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a day this Sunday!

The exit pitch. Not hard, but exposed.
Smiling faces at the top.
Granite world.
Final rappel back over the exact line of the first pitch.
Mission accomplished. For some reason the hike back to the car felt much longer than the hike in.