"Der Vogel und das Kind" (6a+, 200m, 7 pitches)

Switzerland enjoyed another bout of beautiful weather. This was predicted to end on the weekend where we'd get snow down to a thousand meters or so. Arne decided to take a day off from work on Friday and recruited me (paternity leave for the win!) to climb "Der Vogel und das Kind" with him. It's a 7 pitch, 6a+ route in sector Ofen near Melchsee-Frutt. Now Ofen means oven in German and implies the South facing wall gets warm. We figured this would be a good thing if you go climbing up to 2188 meters of altitude in early November. The area is closed to climbers every winter starting November 15th for the benefit of wild animals. Thus this would very likely be our last chance this season.

View towards the Melchtal. The faces on the other side also offer spectacular climbing.
The scree field. More annoying than it looks.
Our route goes up to the left of that giant roof.

The approach is a long 2.5 hour hike mostly along a boring forestry road. This road is closed to the public. We parked at the start and set out to walk up. Not five minutes in, a van stopped next to us and offered us a ride up. We graciously accepted. Two older climbers from a neighboring canton who just ignored the restriction on the road. Good for us as it cut the approach in half.

Looking up the second pitch. 6a.
Arne and bird "Der Vogel und das Kind" ;-)

Hiking up to the wall from the higher parking lot still took us about an hour. It's a nice trail up to the final scree field just at the base of the wall. Working up the loose gravel was exhausting and tedious work - for every two steps forwards you slid one back down.

Arne following a 5c pitch through a narrow cave like roof.
The first 6a+ pitch, moments before he came off.
The second 6a+ pitch traversing under the roof.

We found the route without problems and I set out to lead the first pitch. We alternated leads all the way which meant that Arne got two short 6a+ pitches while I got the final long 6a+. The first crux pitch is a steep section of beautifully structured limestone. Lots of horizontal cracks. What makes it tricky is that many of the cracks are not big enough to actually fit a fingertip and it's hard to tell from below which ones will turn out good. Thus you spend quite some time looking for and testing holds. Arne managed a clean lead all the way up to the very last move where he finally ran out of steam and fell. No damage done but spoiling an otherwise clean on-sight for him.

Just about to exit the roof.
Me following the roof pitch.
Fumbling the clip before giving up.

The next crux section was again Arne's lead. A traverse getting out from under a big roof. You get decent grips but only marginal feet. This makes it extremely pumpy as you are almost doing pull-ups all the way. Arne seemingly cruised through this. I on the other hand was panting and puffing even as a follower and eventually gave in to temptation on the last move and rested on a bolt. Impressive lead!

Final moves.
Exciting rappel line.

The exit 6a+ pitch was my lead. Between the three crux pitches this one seemed to be the easiest one. It's long, but offers good rests along the way. Since this is near the ridge the rock is more exposed to rain and formed the razor sharp droplet holes characteristic for limestone. This makes the rock very sticky affording good foot placements almost anywhere.

Looking back.
View towards some big names.

We started on frozen ground in the morning and hiked past patches of snow. The climb on the other hand was hot enough that I welcomed the occasional breeze and shade to cool us a down. In November!

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