Gufelstock attempt

Thinking I could start the hiking season early this year I got up at 5 o'clock in the morning and took the train to Engi. The weather forecast was nothing to get excited about: cloudy with periods of rain. Turned out to be true, except that the rain came in the form of big and sticky snow flakes once I passed 1500m altitude. Initial progress was good and I was well on track to beat the posted time of 4.75 hours to the summit. It should not be. The snow cover on the ground got deeper and deeper and was of a very treacherous kind: wet and heavy on an icy surface. That makes for a very slippery combination and I had to fight for every single step, despite using my snow shoes to good effect. On top of that I was only approximately on trail and finding my way got more and more difficult and dangerous. While I could follow a single line of footprints in the snow initially their creator bailed after the first hut, leaving me with virgin snow cover and no trail markers. While there are usually trail markers on the trees and even signposts at junctions this particular trail relied entirely on markers on the ground. Very useful under a meter of snow. Checking with my GPS and map I could tell that I was only mere meters besides the trail and yet couldn't see any trace of it. After some scrambling and checking the way ahead I finally decided to call it quits and turn around. Just to mock me the clouds cleared up and revealed a beautiful blue sky on my way down.

~14km, ~900m up and down, turn around point ~1750m

Grüenen shelter - very nice hut. Snowing outside.
It might not look it, but that's frickin' steep and a piece of work!
The weather mocking me.


A weekend of climbing near Ponte Brolla

Ben, Linus, Gintare, Volodymyr, Tadek, Andrey, Hannah and me. Two days in Ponte Brolla at the Lago Maggiore. Beautiful weather, blue skies and summer feeling. People lying on the sandy beach at the river and us having Italien dinner under a starry night sky. South and west facing walls. A lot of easy slabs and friction climbing but some challenging vertical and overhanging sections as well. We started out with an 11 pitch route on Saturday. Only Volodymyr and me made it all the way to the end, the others bailed at various points. The final sections got interesting. We decided that the obvious route marked on our topo maps looked boring and I lead an unmarked one instead. Turned out to be "interesting". Very high up and quite exposed and more difficult than everything else thus far. I collected some gear from the wall of climbers who went before us and had to bail. The route included some detours and the long traverses introduced a lot of rope drag. We were running out of daylight and free soloed the final (very short and easy) pitch in order to move faster. Had to hike down a very long detour to get back to where we started. In climbing shoes! Ouch. Passed a small hut with an awesome bathtub cut into the rock high on the cliff with a beautiful view over the valley.

We spent Sunday on the main wall climbing a lot of single or short multi pitch routes. Some challenging problems in the 6a-6b difficulty range. Having little experience climbing outdoors it's still surprising to me how different it feels compared to the gym. Much more fun. Difficult for entirely different reasons than the gym.

All photos here.

A day of climbing near Stansstad

Andrey, Volodymyr, Hannah, Mike, Ben, Håvard and me went to Stansstad on lake Lucerne for a nice Saturday of climbing. We did mostly single pitches, some quite challenging (Volodymyr challenged me to a 6b+. I did somehow claw my way through, but not without cheating a little bit by taking a rest and a fall ;-)). I was mostly climbing with Mike who is usually my partner in the gym as well. He's far more experienced than me and a better climber. That doesn't stop him from teasing me into the same routes he climbs, causing me to pant and swear a lot. I've coined the term "Fuck you Mike! situation" as an accurate description of the kind of things he gets me into. I was complaining about my climbing shoes: I had brought two pairs, one with my toes sticking out the front and generally abused to the point of falling apart and another one that's a full size too small and painfully tight. Mike commented on my whining and mocked me into climbing a whole pitch barefoot. Not recommended on granite with sharp edges. Håvard and me ended the day with a head first rappel down, experimenting with how to build a chest harness from slings. The idea was to swing down the wall in fluid Rambo movements, blazing a fictional gun. In reality we were jerkily hopping down getting red faces from reduced blood circulation.

A very fun day indeed! All photos here.