Ice Climbing Jetzloch (near Elm)

We returned to the Elm valley on Sunday to take advantage of the last few cold days before the weather forecast predicted a rainy and miserable week. So Tereza, Vladimir, Arne, Luigi and I snowshoed to the same icefall as last week. This time we climbed the left section that the Swiss party occupied the previous weekend. Luigi, stoked to the max as usual, headed straight for the steepest ice he could find and got properly pumped on the first lead. Impressive work!

You've arrived at your destination.
So much ice! So many choices!
There were hardly any rocks visible last time.

I teamed up with Arne and led the first pitch. Warmer temperatures improved the ice significantly so that instead of the shattering glass we encountered before, we enjoyed perfectly plastic ice instead. On the other hand you could also hear the water rushing beneath it which was new ;-) Halfway up my line I had to mantle up a ledge and smacked loose a dinner plate sized chunk of ice. It hit Arne straight on the head with a frightening *thud*. He switched belay with Vladimir to be on the safe side, but luckily he turned out to be OK. Always wear your helmets kids! Arne's now features a fracture from front to back and it was hit hard enough that we had trouble extracting the fabric of his hood which got stuck in the crack.

Digging steps for belay spots.
Luigi shaking out.
Sören, Luigi.

While Vladimir, Luigi and Tereza decided to continue with the second pitch and walk back down after topping out, Arne and my side of the icefall was more boring on the upper half, significantly less steep and with a lot of snow. So we decided to set up an Abalakov anchor and top rope and climbed a few variations of our initial line. Once the sun hit the slopes above the ice fall in the early afternoon rocks started zipping past us and we decided to bail.

Our Abalakov.
Vladimir on the exit pillar.

We mostly had the valley to ourselves again except for one Swiss party and two figures on the other side of the valley who tried to climb a free standing pillar, but eventually gave up on it. We learned the next day that they were none other than our friends Iza and Rafal - the world is small ;-) On the way out we saw a big pillar of ice collapse, so it seems that conditions are indeed rapidly deteriorating.

This could have been your skull...
Sorting gear on the way out.


Ice Climbing Jetzloch (near Elm)

Mark, Luigi and I went ice climbing on Sunday. As the first climb of the season we chose the easy Anfängerverschneidung WI3+ at the Jetzloch near Elm. Luigi did all the heavy lifting of planning the trip (figuring out if we'd actually find ice!), driving us there and leading the climb itself - thank you! While there was enough ice, the first lead was still an intimidating endeavor as there were lots of pockets of air in the ice and it didn't take screws very well. You'd often have glass-like plates that shattered on contact.

Parking right next to a tank.
Approaching the main falls. We climbed the line on the right.
Digging our way up to a belay stance.

We'd left the gray mist in the valley and enjoyed beautiful blue skies in the mountains. It was very windy and we stayed in the shade all day which made it quite chilly. We set up a top rope and climbed a few variations of the original line. My first attempt was clumsy and awkward but the motions quickly returned and already my second climb felt much better and more confident. Mark and I tried a dry tooling line next to the ice and managed to fumble our way up, getting very pumped in the process. Fun!

Luigi doing his thing.
Ice, ice, baby.
Swiss party getting blasted by spindrift. They showed up later in the day and were the only other group in the entire valley.