Climbing Holzegg

My original plans for Saturday fell through because my climbing partner had to cancel at the last minute. Luck would have it that I had just met Christian at the climbing gym the night before. We got along well and he made a competent impression. So we improvised a new plan on the spot: Christian and I would team up and tag along Andrey and Iljya who were headed for Holzegg - an area I had never been to, but which sounded good on paper.

First impressions of the wall. A few other parties around.
I wonder if there's a route up that needle?

I picked everyone up in the morning and we drove to the cable car base station at Brunni, thinking we'd take that up to the ridge and start climbing 10 minutes later. Turns out it's between seasons, not quite ski season anymore and not quite summer yet, and thus the cable car was closed for maintenance. Serves me right I guess. I am usually the annoying person in the group who demands everyone hike up the mountain because a summit only "counts" if it was a valley to valley trip under one's own power. I was about to make an exception because we were headed for sports climbing at a crag, not aiming for a summit. Alas, we still ended up hiking up the mountain ;-)

Christian working out the moves through the roof.
Hanging around at the final anchor after a job well done!
Ugly Switzerland is ugly.

The crag exceeded my expectations. Top notch limestone; spectacular views; well protected and much longer routes than expected. Christian and I climbed the first pitch of "Häxäschuss" 5c for warm-up and for syncing on outdoors climbing technique and commands. Then we started up "Hoppla". Three pitches, graded 5b, 6a+, 6b+. We didn't have a real topo, only the names and grades for the routes. So when it was Christian's turn to lead the third and hardest pitch we contemplated the route ahead. Eyeballing a big roof above us, we figured the route had to traverse sideways out from under it. Turns out we had to climb straight through and over the roof instead.

End of March and it's almost too warm at 1500 meters altitude!
Lowering from the anchor below the roof.

Christian did an impressive job leading that crux and continued out of sight. I brought only a 50 meter rope, which turned out to be too short for this crag. He passed the halfway mark of the rope long before getting even close to the next anchor. No bailing now - he made it to the top without issue. Rappelling on this short rope turned into another puzzle. We had to "steal" an anchor from a neighboring route and improvise a halfway stop. In the end it took us three and a half maneuvers to reach the ground again. Meanwhile Andrey and Iljya had been climbing single pitches at the other end of the crag. We met up again and had an exhilarating time slipping and sliding down the mountain on shoes that were intended for a gondola ride and not a snowshoe hike. Overall a fantastic experience and I hope I have gained a new climbing partner in Christian.

Andrey in action.
Happy faces after a great day out.
Running down the slopes like two year olds. Leonie would approve.

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