Ice Climbing Pontresina

Switzerland was still firmly gripped by a cold spell. In fact, it was so cold (-25°C), that climbing South facing ice falls not only seemed possible, but also like the better idea. Most of the time you seek out steep shaded canyons or North facing walls for ice climbing. Those ice-boxes would be a tad too chilly on a day like this. So we took the beautiful Julier pass past St Moritz all the way to Pontresina.

One can have a pretty good guess at who used this parking lot before us ;-)
-24°C. It was -25°C just a minute earlier.
On the approach. Luckily someone tracked it out for us a few days prior. Our line visible in the back.

Leaving the car, our exposed fingers hurt after barely a minute in the cold air. I know crunchy snow, slushy snow, powder snow and many other kinds of snow. This was squeaky snow. Fun to walk on. From the road it was barely a thirty minute approach to the waterfall. Four pitches of beautiful ice lay before us. Luigi led and Mark and I followed. I initially wore all my layers (two layers of Merino wool, a fleece jacket, a down jacket and a wind breaker), but quickly started shedding clothes on the way up. Once the sun hit us and we topped out it was actually comfortable in a t-shirt (or even without one ;-)). The ice was nice and plastic, if a bit dripping in places. Overall a super satisfying and nice climb.

Mark demonstrating how to properly place an ice screw.
Satisfied with the bomber anchor he built. This is how you do it kids!
Luigi leading the first pitch.

Once we got back to the car, Luigi and Mark still had enough gas in the tank to attempt a second fall a few kilometers down the road. It was a high gravity day for me, so I decided to sit this one out and listen to podcasts in the car instead. It took them roughly two hours to reach the fall and climb the first pitch of it. But apparently the ice was shitty and the climbing easy enough to be boring, so they turned around without climbing all the way to the top.

These boots are made for walking...
Waiting our turn.
"It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.". Mind you, our water bottles and pants were still frozen. Roughly -15°C still, but the sun made it very comfortable ;-)
Mission accomplished.

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