Krönten (3108m)

Ralf had prior commitments for Sunday so we left the office Friday late afternoon in order to squeeze in a mountaineering quicky on Saturday. Shortening the ascend to the Leutschach hut (2208m) by using the cable car up to the Arnisee (1370m) we arrived at the hut just before it got dark. The hut was pleasantly deserted - four teenagers playing cards were the only other guests.

Bristen (3073m)
Provisions for the hike.

We had a comfortably late start at 6:30 the next morning. The sun was just coming up. Wonderful atmosphere. Serene quiet in a frozen world. There had been about thirty centimeters of fresh snow during the past week. Mostly melted away where the sun can reach, but still deep and powdery in the shade. We were the first to break trail through the virgin snow. It was only once we reached the summit ridge of the Krönten that we could see other people. We later met them at the summit proper. A bunch of mountain guides with a class from an international private school on a four day excursion. Imagine that! I'm so envious. Class under an open sky. Learning about mountaineering to boot. I definitely attended the wrong school!

Bristen. My next objective?

Applying half frozen sun screen when you are cold to begin with it not much fun. So I hadn't used any when we started in the morning. Sitting on the summit in the bright sun at one hour before noon I finally got it out. A lesson in physics. The small bottle had been closed at home and I first opened it at an altitude of more than 3100 meters. The difference in air pressure made the liquid sputter out of the bottle on its own and snake up into the air. Fun to look at ;-)

First sun hitting the mountains.

We retraced our steps back down and circled the entire mountain back to the hut. This was slowly getting crowded for the weekend. We sat in the sun on the terrace for a while and watched hikers emerge from the clouds below us. We were idly wondering how long it'd take us to get back down to the cable car. I posited we could make it in an hour. This was overheard by a group of hikers who very much doubted this. Challenge accepted. If you know me, you also know I'm a sucker for this type of provocation. In the end it took us an hour and ten minutes.

Another perfect outing. Thanks Ralf!

~2000m up and down
Working our way up the Sasspass.
We just came down that steep scree from the pass. Need to climb back over it on our way back ;-(
Ralf leading the way to the Kröntenlücke.
Locking back down whence we came.
On the ridge.
The class scrambling around on the summit tower.
On the ridge. Gross Spannort in the back (left). I attended a mountaineering course in the Spannort hut but didn't get to climb the mountain yet.
Beautiful 360° vista!
The Kröntenhut way below. We've been there before for climbing but got rained out.
Rappelling off the summit tower.
Downclimbing through the Kröntenlücke back onto the glacier.
Wichelhorn. Thomas and I climbed it last year.
Winter is coming!
Our hut and the strikingly colored Nidersee.
Clouds moving up from the valleys.
Looking back to the Sasspass. Wichelhorn on the left, the snowy couloir is the pass.
Descending into the foggy world of the lowlanders.


Climbing Sobrio

It was raining North of the alps, so Vinay, Mark, Sam, Evialina and me drove to Ticino for some sports climbing. The Gotthard tunnel did not disappoint: gray clouds and rain on one side, blue skies and sun on the other. The crag at Sobrio features lots of single pitch routes on beautiful granite. The guide book for the area is called extremSüd, correspondingly there is a relative lack of easy routes. Also, just because it's a well bolted sports climbing crag doesn't mean you can let down your guard.

Just before the overhanging finale of Zimbawe.
Paparazzi everywhere.

I climbed a long route and ran out of quick draws. This was fixable by down-climbing and retrieving the last one I clipped after every new clip. When lowering, the end of our 60m rope very nearly slipped through the belay device, which would have led to a painful tumble for me. Luckily, Sam was paying attention and noticed just in time.
Lesson: always tie a knot in the end of the rope, even on single pitches.

Mark kissing the rock on the start of Zimbawe.
Evialina coming up Natty Dread.

Just before sundown Vinay quickly toproped another route. We had already stowed away our helmets. Of course it was just then that he dropped a fist sized rock from the very top of the route. A shout of warning, a quick scramble, and the rock smashed into the ground between Evialina and me.
Lesson: Always wear your helmet. There's loose rock even on often frequented, well cleaned sports routes.

Vinay on the fun undercling at the start of Natty Dread.
Tall boy Mark using his full range.

A beautiful day in great company. I had a lot of fun and was quite happy about my climbing too. I led:

  • Natty Dread 6b
  • Zimbawe 6a
  • Bushdocter 6a+
  • Lindor 6b
  • Chant down Babylon 6b
The fun part is yet to come - Sam in Zimbawe.
The main section with some hard overhanging routes.
Sam in the start of Natty Dread.
Evialina in some crazy hard project (7c?).
Biasca valley.
Snuggling up to the rock at the start of Lindor. It may not look steep, but it's awfully blank.
At the top of Chant down Babylon. My proudest achievement of the day. Long and technically difficult. Bolted by Dani Arnold himself.
Just about to top out on Lindor.
Vinay cruising up Lindor.