La Gomera

Anita and I spent a week of November on the Canary Island of La Gomera. A very atypical style of vacation for us, comprised mostly of chilling at the pool, slurping cocktails.

Harbor of Los Christianos on Tenerife.
The Fred Olson express ferry about to pick us up. The world's first trimaran ferry and likely the most elegant and fastest ship I've ever been on.
Breakfast on the Hotel terrace.
One of our pools. The Hotel Jardín Tecina is really nice ;-)
Sight seeing at San Sebastián de La Gomera, the tiny capital of the island.
Hiking up to the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, a sixteenth century hermitage with beautiful vistas over the island.
Dinner at a restaurant built into a cave at Playa de Santiago, directly at the harbor. Historically the cave was used to store and clean fish - and that's what we had for dinner ;-)
The beach club belonging to our hotel.
An abandoned fish factory in one of the many canyons cutting through the island. The island is of volcanic origin and nearly perfectly circular in shape. Erosion has produced an incredibly steep and varied topology.
Pilot wales.
More pilot wales. Anita wanted to keep one of the babies.
Sangria on the roof. We also got to jump into the ocean and barbecue on deck. Don't be mistaken by the seemingly calm sea. Four people on the boat threw up and balancing around on deck required quite a bit of dexterity on the bobbing boat.
Garajonay National Park, the largest park on the Northern slopes of the island. The trade winds create a very special climate here, giving birth to a subtropical forest shrouded in a perpetual mist on an otherwise desert like island. It feeds the only significant creek and is vital for the irrigation systems further down.
Hermigua and Santa Catalina on the Northern shore.
Did I mention we were lazy? We still hiked through the entire national park in a day for ~35km and +-1200m elevation. Anita on the trail after leaving the forest and following the irrigation pipes towards the village of El Cedro.
Cool goat.
View from our room.
Anita overlooking the cult mountain of La Fortaleza.
Nice vistas from the westernmost point of the island.
A place in the shade just above an 800m near vertical drop to the ocean.
The Chorros de Epina enchanted spring. According to legend you need to drink from the fountains in just the right sequence and you'll get love and happiness in your life. Mess it up and you'll be turned into a witch or warlock. This is complicated by the fact that the sequence is different for men and women.
Anita tempting fate. Empirical evidence since the vacation indicates we got the sequence right ;-)
Chocolate fountain as one of the many dessert offerings. All you can eat dinners every day are dangerous...
This was standard fare for our breakfast (!) buffet.
GPS track of our explorations.


Climbing Brüggler: "Glückspilz Heavy" 6a+

Last Sunday Mark, Arek, Andrey and I took advantage of the outstanding weather and rented a mobility car to head for Brüggler. I figured it might soon be the end of the abnormally good weather spell and wanted to introduce Mark to the joys of multi pitch climbing before the season is over. The two hundred meter tall Brüggler South face is well bolted limestone and served this purpose before. The rock is of superb quality and the wall well cleaned, eliminating most objective dangers.

The approach.
Mark navigating the crux pitch. A delicate slab just before you have to work your way over a small roof.

We had a leisurely late start and headed up the first pitch of Glückspilz Heavy 6a+ around noon. Mark and I made one rope team while Andrey and Arek were off to an entirely different section of the wall. We wouldn't see them again for the entire day. The sun was scorching hot (mid November at more than 1500 meters altitude!) and we were climbing in t-shirts. Lots of people had the same idea as us and the wall was quite crowded. Luckily it's easily big enough to accommodate dozens of rope teams at once, so it didn't matter much. In fact, it created quite an enjoyable atmosphere. Pleasant conversations all around us. That's how the Swiss roll: Sunday stroll and tea on a vertical wall ;-)

Diving through the tree marking the exit to the summit ridge.
Lake Zürich.

I led the entire climb and Mark handled the climbing and the half ropes really well. We linked a few pitches so that we topped out about three and a half hours after we started. A few obligatory summit pics and we started rappelling back down. This is not strictly necessary, there is a hiking trail one can use for walking off, but I figured a bit or rappelling practice wouldn't hurt. Mark led one rappel, missed the next anchor and ended up reaching the end of the ropes. Instead of ascending the rope back to the anchor he attached himself to the wall and waited for "rescue". By now we were racing the daylight and we figured it would be faster if I rappelled to the anchor just above him and set up the next rappel to pick him up on the way. We made it back to base just as it got dark.

Hanging around, waiting for the taxi.

Andrey and Arek were nowhere to be seen, but some of their gear was still at the foot of the wall. We waited a while and were just starting to worry about them when they appeared from the hiking trail. They had topped out a little later than us and decided to walk down. Great day!


Climbing Gallerie Weesen

We have unnaturally good weather at the moment. 18°C and sun. Vladimir, Nicola, Laura and I took advantage of it by going climbing at the Gallerie Weesen/Amden. A crag right above a road and thus easy to get to. It features lots of very hard routes and is listed in the "extreme" guide book. And indeed there were quite a few people working on what looked like challenging projects. We stuck to the easier stuff. I'm still recovering from a cold and haven't been climbing in weeks. Laura hadn't climbed for a year or so. Vladimir had pulled a muscle in his neck while bouldering a few days earlier. Still he put up an impressive fight all the way to the top of Halloween, 6c+. I was a little less daring and only followed it instead of attempting a clean lead. I managed the entire thing without cheating. I'll definitely return for a proper lead. It was a very satisfying climb in any case. 6c+ is right at the very limit of what I ever managed to climb outdoors.

Anyway, great afternoon - thanks gang! Special credit to Laura for bringing a good camera and taking pictures!

  • Kurzprogramm, 6a
  • Bonsai 6a+
  • Halloween 6c+
  • Brillätidi 6a
Vladimir in Bonsai.
Lake Waalen and the village of Weesen. Switzerland is a butt-ugly country.
Nicola in Bonsai.
Me in Brillätidi. No shirt in November!
Laura in Brillätidi.
Nicola. Apparently everything is cool at the belay ;-)
Vladimir. Pissed about his neck. Sitting in the shade because it was too hot in the sun!
We are such extreeeeeeme climbers!
Fun on the rope swing.
Proof that Halloween is overhanging quite a bit.