Hiking Lagh de Cama

Ralf sent an email on Friday whether I wanted to join for a two day hike starting Saturday. Of course I did ;-) After climbing in the gym that evening I quickly threw together a backpack full of gear at midnight and left the house at 7 in the morning. Biking to Adliswil where I would meet Michael to continue by car to Cama in canton des Grisons, picking up Ralf along the way.

Val Cama is beautiful. The trail snakes up through dense forest in a steep valley. The creek at its base was mostly dry because the water has been diverted for energy production. Once the valley opens to the lake you get fantastic views of an impenetrable wall of rock that forms the natural border to Italy. The hut at the lake is still closed and there are only a handful of people around. I love it.

There is a giant scar on one of the mountains from a fresh landslide in 2013 which killed the local shepherd who was running out of her hut with her two year old kid in her arms. Miraculously the daughter survived. So did a whole group of children camping at the base of the mountain with the WWF.

We continue up to the Alp d'Albion. A tiny hut that sleeps four. We drop our gear for the night and head further up the mountain for our first summit of the weekend. Originally we wanted to climb the Piz de Sambrog (2312m). But since there is still quite a bit of snow, it's getting late and the terrain is anything but easy, we contend ourselves with one of the smaller side peaks, the Cima Centrale de Sambrog (2300m). Fun scrambling over a ridge leads us to a nice summit cairn.

Back down at "our" hut we get a nice fire going and cook a truly luxurious dinner with a meat, cheese and wine appetizer followed by pasta a la tonno. All the while enjoying a fantastically colorful dusk.

The next day we head back down to the lake and up the other side. It starts raining heavily. We sit out the worst part of it under cover of some trees. It doesn't clear up completely though and we'll have rain the entire day. Still we push on. We light another fire at the Alp de Vazzola and have an extensive rest to dry some of our gear. A dangerous exercise as Michael discovers when his synthetic shirt melts a bit ;-)

Pathfinding past the hut gets more and more tricky. The trail is overgrown and hidden beneath patches of snow. The markers are old and faded. A fun scavenger hunt scramble. Once we reach the saddle I declare we should stick with our original plan to climb the ridge for nearly a kilometer to the summit. Luckily the others don't need any convincing anyway. We simply agree that the rain is just an unusually humid day.

Ralf knew a "shortcut". I got there way before the two of them - without bushwhacking.

Il Pizzet (2218m) would usually offer sweeping vistas. We only catch small glimpses down to the valley. We hike down steep, pathless, grassy wet slopes until we meet the trail again at the Alp de Mea. As soon as we get below the tree line it suddenly turns into twilight underneath dense foliage. The trail is covered in 20 centimeters of old leaves, cushioning every step. Quite nice actually. But also slippery and it is still steep enough that stumbling would be ill advised. After a looong descent we arrive back at the car.

Great trip, great company. Thanks Ralf for choosing the route and finding this nice hut!

~30km, +-3000m


Climbing Gallerie Weesen

Before Alex continued on to Croatia for more climbing we went for another after work session at the Gallerie Weesen. We started in the forest sector and struggled on some very polished and very hard routes for their rating. I fought my way up tiny crimpers on the Marie Rhana 6c+ on top rope before finally admitting defeat on the last two moves. Definitely doable, but my finger strength just isn't there yet. We then moved on to the sector above the road. This features nominally harder routes, but the rock still has more texture and thus feels easier to climb. I took an unexpected lead fall on a balancy traverse in Scary 6a+, just when I thought I had mastered the crux. C'est la vie.

  • L'os à mâle 5c+
  • Levitation au voyage 6b
  • La Voltige 6a
  • Marie Rhana 6c+
  • Opus 1 6b
  • Scary 6a+
I wonder why it's called the forest sector?
Scrambling down to the main crag.
What do we climb next?
Mürtschenstock. A full traverse of that ridge is on my todo list ;-)


Climbing Roggenhuser Steinbruch

Alex from the Dublin office is staying at our place for a week. Monday was a public holiday so we planned to do some alpine climbing. Unfortunately the forecast predicted rain and thunderstorms from noon onwards. Too risky to go on some multi-pitch high up with a difficult retreat. So we went to the crag instead. The Roggenhuser quarry still offers a lot of routes I haven't climbed yet and allows one to park the car right next to the wall, making it very convenient to get to and run from rain. Nicola joined us and the three of us spent a productive morning climbing long single pitches. We could even continue climbing in the rain because the cover of fresh spring leafs on the trees is dense enough to keep the rock sheltered and dry for a while. We eventually had to leave in the early afternoon. Headed for wine and beers at Christian and Mel's luxury (then indoor) BBQ party made the decision somewhat easier ;-)

I climbed:

  • Enziane 5b
  • Urubamba 5c+
  • Gemse 5b
  • Gemse Variante 6b
  • Ornithologen Promenade 6a
  • Schratte Trail 6b
  • Pauls Variante 5b
Training the next generation of climbers. They had a nice fire with bread on a stick going as well.
Sheltered by the trees.


Climbing Romys Traum

Vladimir and I set out to Braunwald on Sunday to climb Romys Traum, an alpine route up the Leiteregg (2310m). It's still early in the season so the cable car wasn't running yet. We had just started to hike up when a tractor stopped next to us. At first I thought the farmer would tell us the via ferrata was still closed (which it was) and advise us to turn around. Instead he offered us a ride. Awesome. Sitting in the flatboard he saved us 300 meters of elevation gain, so we only had to climb the remaining ~500m up to the ridge.

The views that could have been.
Vladimir. Perfectly dressed for the Alpine.
Intimidating? Not at all!

We shuffled around at the base of the face for a bit, trying to find the start of the route. It's about 170m and 5 pitches long. Since we had been climbing on the day before I thought I was very clever to just leave my backpack packed with all the gear. That way I couldn't forget anything. Unfortunately I failed to realize that today's route was meant for 60m half ropes. So there we were, standing at the base of the first 40m pitch with a 50m single rope. If we decided to start climbing that would make a retreat very difficult indeed. The only way out would be up. The rope would be too short for rappels. To make matters worse the weather was anything but good, with a forecast of rain a few hours out.

Onward into the cloud!
I challenged Vladimir to reenact that famous Climbing Magazine cover from the seventies and free solo dangle off the roof. He declined. Can't imagine why?

Of course we committed ;-) I led the first 6a crux pitch. Once that was done we got into the rhythm of things and had a great time taking turns on lead and cruising up this beautiful route. Very different from last week's Balmflue this route is continuously steep and offers very sustained and difficult climbing. A few places are peppered with loose rocks and we have some close calls with stones whizzing by.

So much potential!
The mood...
...is good!
The final belay. You can't tell, but that ravine between my feet goes straight down for more than 200 meters.

We got really lucky with the weather and once we topped out the clouds broke to reveal beautiful views down to the valley. Since our rope wasn't suitable for rappelling we climbed down the via ferrata instead.

The first proper alpine route this season! Awesome! According to the route book the route has seen only 4 ascents in all of 2014 and we were the first this year.

Romys Traum:
  • Pitch 1: 40m 6a
  • Pitch 2: 30m 5c
  • Pitch 3: 30m 5c+
  • Pitch 4: 40m 5c
  • Pitch 5: 30m 5c+
Fuck Putin? Pussy Riot? Is that you Andrey?
Coiling rope in style. There was a cold wind blowing up from below all day, hence the attempt at staying warm with fancy socks ;-)
This bird materialized out of the fog the second we took our food out of our backpacks.
Downclimbing the via ferrata.