Climbing Mittagflue, "Südkante" Variant, ~400m, 5b

Luigi and I did our weekly pilgrimmage up the Grimsel pass. The intent was to climb something at the Handegg, but once we got there we could see the entire wall still shrouded in clouds, the rock running with water and a dangerous patch of snow in the couloir on the approach. Despite a great weather forecast, it had apparently rained recently and the day was off to a slow start. Thus we decided to postpone this objective and retreat back to the trusty old Mittagflue wall. We felt confident that we could climb that even when wet.

You can't even see our original objective in this picture. But it's there, hidden behind the clouds.

Fresh roadkill near our parking spot. Sad. I have never even seen a live wild badger.

The party in front of us. A few minutes later, after linking and simul-climbing the first pitches, we caught up with them.

We decided to go for the classic Südkante. It looked the driest and despite being the classic route on the wall, neither one of us had climbed it, because we deemed it too easy to be interesting. We saw one party already in the route, a few pitches up in the clouds. Once we started climbing we quickly caught up to them. A father-son team. They were moving frustratingly slow compared to our preferred pace, so I improvised an anchor just below them and we started climbing a huge arc around them by traversing into the neighboring route and back. This allowed us to overtake without interference and also made the climbing more interesting for us as this way we got to place our own protection and find our own route.

My improvised anchor.

The sun came out and with it a whole bunch of climbers.

Luigi having a good time.

For the final pitch Luigi again decided to improvise a more interesting variant which got us very close to the edge of the wall and offered some fun moves in the 5c/6a difficulty range. By the time we topped out the weather had cleared and the sun was out in full force. And the wall was crawling with climbers. All these parties below us meant that rappelling would be reckless as we'd risk dropping loose rock on them. Thus we decided to follow the instructions in the guide book and hike off. This turned out to be by far the most dangerous part of the entire endeavour. The "trail" starts with some steep scrambling on an easy, but super exposed and unprotected slab on the ridge. It continues in a similar vain with a lot of slippery scrambling with immense exposure. You fall, you die, type of terrain. Not fun at all. And to top it all off, despite all of this, it still requires four rappels to make it back to the base. My preference for this wall is clearly to rappel the route. Takes about the same time and feels a lot safer to me.

Luigi at the end of his improvised final pitch. Slightly run-out.


View towards the pass.

View towards Guttannen.

The slab for the descent. Not technically hard, but super exposed.

Luigi on the edge.

Alpine surroundings.

Typical scrambling on the descent.

Nice flowers tucked away in the rock.

Second but last rappel.

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