Climbing Brüggler (s'Zigerträumli, 5c & Highway, 5b)

My brothers, their partners and baby were visiting us for a week before easter. It was planned as a hygge week of hanging out and chilling. In fact, my loving siblings went so far as to wish for me to be sick that week so I wouldn't drag them up too many mountains. So we enjoyed good food, an open fire BBQ, a cruise on lake Zürich, small walks with the kids and jointly worked on finishing one of our bigger puzzles. We also took the kids to the local swimming pool. It was Merle's first time ever and after some initial scepticism she quickly got into it and had a great time in the water. Leonie watched a bunch of older kids jump off the diving platforms and after a while walked out on it herself. She jumped off without hesitation - nevermind that she cannot swim. Torsten and I also started construction on a bunk bed for Leonie. A fun woodworking project that grew in ambition while we were talking about it. And of course I dragged him up a mountain ;-P

Torsten on the approach.
Mark scouting for the start of the route.

Torsten is not a climber. He is fit though and up for a challenge. So we recruited Mark as another experienced climber to make a three person rope team and headed for the 200 meter limestone wall of Brüggler. We've tried this particular climb before in 2013 but got rained off the mountain by a thunderstorm before we managed to reach the top. This time the weather turned out beautiful. It's pre-season and there's still a lot of snow at the base of the mountain.

Mark gearing up.
Torsten gearing up.
Discussing our route options.

We aimed for Meister Franz, a route that's graded mostly 5b and lower. Luck would have it that the only other person on the entire wall that day had picked exactly that route out of the dozens available. He was rope soloing, meaning he would basically have to climb every pitch twice. We didn't want to get stuck behind him so we chose a route further to the west. The five pitches of the s'Zigerträumli are consistently graded 5c and thus pose a significantly harder challenge for Torsten. It is also bolted as a trad route, meaning that only the belay anchors are well bolted. Mark and I only shared 4 tri-cams between us as mobile protection. We packed for the sports route we originally planned for, not a trad climb. This made the leads pretty dicey with long run outs. Brüggler features lots of natural hour glasses that you can protect using slings, so we improvised some semblance of safety.

Spread your legs and trust the rubber. Torsten learning technique ;-)
Crawling up the wall like ants. In fact we avoided one anchor because it was completely taken over by real ants.

I led the first pitch, Mark the second. After that we decided that it might be a tad too hard for a complete beginner and that we were taking too many risks with our meagre trad kit. So we traversed over into the route Highway. Graded at 5b and protected as a sports route this one was much more comfortable. Torsten was a champ and made it to the top with little issue and in good style. I tend to go on such outings packing two snickers bars and returning home with one still left. Torsten on the other hand brought a proper big lunch pack and was indulging at every anchor. This difference in approach led to a lot of mockery before and after the climb ;-)

A steep bit.
On the summit ridge.
Hanging around on the rappel. Walking off, while theoretically possible, would have been super uncomfortable and dangerous in climbing shoes as the steep and exposed trail is still covered in snow.
Hey mom!
Mark has accidentally discovered the Bergschrund. He nearly disappeared into it, but luckily didn't hurt himself.
Surfing down the slope.
Brüggler main wall in the background.
Working on a bed for Leonie and "v2.0".
The gang.
Most of the week was spent on activities like this.


Climbing Albbruck

We went cragging with the kids on Saturday. Anita was struggling with a bad cold, so I took Leonie to give mommy some time to recover. Andrey suggested Albbruck, just across the border in Germany. A new area for me. Usually I don't like gneiss very much because it tends to feel grimy and slippery. Not so here. The rock is beautifully structured and fun to climb. The crag is 5 minutes away from the village supermarket and a popular picnic destination. As such there were quite a few people around. Our own group was comprised of Björn, Andrey, Iljya, Nicole, Luigi, Silvia and the kids Marzia and Leonie. Between all of us adults, taking care of the kids was quite easy (thank you Silvia in particular!). I got to climb "Hassliweg" VI, "Dürligieger" VI and "Sapperlot" VII+.

Leonie exploring the place.
There's a nice fireplace right at the creek.
The place even features a (tiny) sandy beach!

Leonie was a champ for the entire trip. On the car ride in she was singing to herself. Once there she enthusiastically explored our rocky picnic spot and learned to negotiate the rough terrain. She even went barefoot into the bitterly cold creek. She and Marzia had a great time running around, throwing rocks into the water and just generally being outside. Luigi and Silvia brought a harness for kids and we set up a rope swing for them. Leonie enjoyed it tremendously. Later in the afternoon, when we did it again, she let all her limbs hang down limply, closed her eyes and swayed back and forth, her face to the sky. It looked very relaxed and very zen. We stayed for a total of four hours and by the end Leonie was so tired she fell asleep before we even left the parking lot. Success!

Luigi on "Dürligieger", Andrey getting ready.
My groupies. Leonie and Marzia would get all excited when they saw Luigi or me climb. "Daddy! Daddy!"
To quote Björn: "You've got the pack mule look down to a pat!"