"Meteorit" (5c+, 225m, 7 pitches), Cheselenflue, Melchtal

Arne and I gambled on the weather forecast on Sunday. It was all wet, rainy and gray in Zürich. Webcams for our destination, Melchsee Frutt, weren't very encouraging either. We still decided to go and got rewarded with a great day of climbing!

Look at all that beautiful rock!
A long way to go yet... our route ends just below those big overhangs at the top.
The surroundings weren't too shabby.

We got a late start because it is very much out of season for the Stöckalp and there were no public transport connections. So I shuttled Anita and her gear to work before we could finally set off in our car. The hike on the approach took us about forty minutes so we were all set and ready to climb well past noon. This didn't leave a lot of time for the seven pitches of the "Meteorit".

The soup is boiling.

We got super lucky with the weather. The rock was dry and surprisingly warm - no gloves required, even at 1500 meters altitude in late November! The climbing was a joy. Great quality rock with very varied and well protected pitches. No particularly hard moves, but sustained and challenging enough to be interesting. We made for a good team and efficiently alternated leads. Almost too soon we topped out just below the giant roofs. They looked like they might be a formidable challenge even for the likes of Adam Ondra. Definitely the end of the route for us (and also the official end of the route).

Arne trying his most photogenic moves.
The last few moves on the final pitch just when the fog was coming in.
Rappelling back down.

Rappelling back over the route we descended into the fog that had crept up the valley in the meantime. It started getting dark just as we reached the base of the wall. Perfect timing ;-) A quick hike back to the car and we could enjoy the satisfaction of having bagged a beautiful route despite an initially grim weather outlook. Sweet!

Arne disappearing into the fog.
On the hike back out.


Fulhorn (2529m) attempt, returned from 2340m

I got blown off a mountain on Sunday. Still a bit bummed about that. Listening to the radio on the Autobahn to Graubünden: "Severe weather warning, be careful when venturing outside". Apparently gusts of wind up to 70km/h down in the valleys were expected. I could feel it even in the car. Undeterred I parked in the little village of Feldis and donned my snow shoes. It was windy, yes, but not terribly so. I figured my goal for the day, the Fulhorn, should be safe even in adverse conditions. It's mostly a long slog, but not particularly steep or exposed.

The route does cross a little spot on the map called "Windegga" though. I guess you could translate this as "windy corner". And indeed it was. The wind carved beautiful formations into the snow and blasted me with ice crystals. All fun and games so I kept breaking trail, heading for the mountain. It became more and more severe until I was staggering and leaning into the wind with all my weight. On the final steep ascent to the summit I was actually blown over and landed on my knees. This was getting a bit too exciting. Turnaround time. Just 200 meters shy of the summit.

Lonely footsteps.
My face was hurting from being sanded down by ice.
Close to my high point.

When I took off my gloves my fingers instantly turned numb. Thus no video from my high point, only from the flat approach towards the mountain. I think they still serve to convey the general idea ;-) Once I was back below the tree line the inferno I just left behind seemed very far away and surreal. The sun was out and it was almost abnormally warm for November. Up to 15°C down in the valley. Ah well. No summit today but still a fun outing and good training of 17 kilometers and 900 meters altitude through fresh snow. And when does one get to experience weather like this?! I think I can count the storms I've been in that actually pushed me around like this, let alone knock over, on one hand.

Returning home against the wind.
Looking back. I circled all around the left to reach the mountain in the center of the image.


Warther Horn (2256m) and wellness in Voralberg

Anita and I spent last week in the 180 souls village of Warth in Vorarlberg, Austria (skiing, not cangaroos). For the past three years we've made it a tradition to stay at a wellness hotel for a week. Originally this was borne out of me not having recovered enough to do anything else after my accident in 2013. The following year we combined it with skiing. This year Anita is a little bit handicapped, so we decided to take it easy again.

This is what it looked like when we arrived on Saturday.
And this is what we woke up to on Sunday!
Something is brewing!

It is very much out of season, so the hotel was nearly deserted. Just as well. We had half a dozen saunas, the fitness coaches, massage therapists, waiters and pools all to ourselves. Quite the luxury. I got several "Anwendungen" - even a pedicure. This was really about salvaging the wreckage of a climber's feet and a minor act of surgery. Turns out feet don't like being squeezed into tight climbing shoes and hiking boots all the time. Who would've thought?! On the bright side the massage therapist commended me for my "well developed and healthy" muscles while working on my thighs. Balm for the soul ;-)

On a stroll with the hotel owner.
Heading up the Warther Horn the next day.
See! I did work!
Lonely tracks.

Stuffing crazy amounts of food into yourself every day requires some getting used to. You start the morning with an all you can eat buffet, follow that up with the afternoon Jause consisting of various cooked meals, a selection of cakes, desserts and salads before you sit down for a five course dinner and finish with a selection of local cheeses. But humans adapt to all sorts of hardship, so we learned to cope.

Gaining the ridge.
Ridge leading up to the Karhorn. I refrained from climbing that - it's a via ferrata in summer and attempting that alone and without any gear seemed ill advised.
Summit cross!

The program of aqua fitness, stretching, yoga and guided "hikes" (small strolls really) wasn't really enough to offset all that lying around in saunas and feasting and I was itching to climb a proper mountain. So I headed up the local Hausberg, the Warther Horn. I was breaking trail as soon as I left the hotel. Once I gained the ridge I was plowing through hip deep snow. Served quite well as a proper workout.

I was following this vague hint of a trail.
Icing on the bridge.
Our living room.
I had to renew my snow angels every day - they disappeared so fast.
Still on summer tires. Oops. Most everybody else was chaining up.