Brüggler (1,777m) via Blümliweg (5c)

We had a "Sundarday", an exceptional day off, named after Google's CEO Sundar Pichai. The weather was fantastic and so Luigi and I decided to start the rock climbing season. Brüggler was an obvious choice. Familiar, only a short drive away, well protected, non-committing and South facing. There was still a lot of snow on the approach. I don't own ski touring gear yet, so while I was making my way up in snowshoes, Luigi skinned up on skis. On the way up this gave me a slight advantage because I could attack the slopes straight on where he had to zigzag a longer route. Of course he'd more than make up for this slight disadvantage on the way down!

Gigi on the approach.
Sören on the approach.

It was scorching hot in the sun. This had softened the snow enough, even at 9 in the morning, that I was seeking the shade of the trees for some cool and more frozen snow. Getting to the wall itself proved slightly tricky. The slushy snow covered most of the first pitch and made it difficult to identify the correct route and actually get close enough to the rock without sliding down. In the end we were about 20 meters right of the route we intended to climb. We didn't fancy another battle through snow, so I led the first pitch as an improvised diagonal. Without bolts I made use of natural hour glasses and some rotting ancient slings for protection. It was a bit run out, but also easy climbing.

This is the grimace I got when I asked him to smile for the camera...

Once we gained the route proper we made good progress. The sun melted more snow and ice above us and we had the occasional shard of ice helicopter past us with an intimidating whoosh. We climbed Blümliweg (5c) which is the direct variant of the Sonntagsweg (6a+). The final pitch goes up a steep corner/chimney. This was still wet. The anchor and pitch were exposed to a constant drizzle of water from above. Luigi still gave it a shot but had to give up half way up the pitch where the route was running with water. He rappeled off the closest tree he could reach.

"Spread your legs and trust the rubber" a typical Brüggler climbing stance.
Bailing from the wet corner.

We had planned to rappel from the very beginning, so this didn't change our schedule much. While you can walk off Brüggler in normal conditions, this is not advisable with badly attached slushy snow on the exposed ridge and steep trail. The entire 7 pitches of climbing, even with the initial improvisation and final aborted pitch, took us only about 2.5 hours. One of the advantages of being routine climbing partners. Gigi skied out while I walked back to the car. Successful start of the season!

Rappeling back down. Please do note Luigi's footwear. More appropriate for a day at the beach than an Alpine rock climbing trip...
Brüggler. I've climbed many routes on this face and yet still have many more to go.
Heading back home.


Sulzfluh (2,817m)

Another glorious Blue Bird day in the mountains. At first Christian and I contemplated returning to the Rhine valley like last time. But then for a brief implausible moment it seemed like we could have been able to recruit Jan to join us. He wasn't too keen on the long drive so we compromised on the Rätikon range a bit closer to home. In the end Jan still bailed at the last minute. His loss ;-P

Along the Schaniela-creek.
Nice tracks.
Glittering snow.

We parked at St. Antönien in the morning. On the last available slot on a parking lot crowded with ski tourers. The trail follows the creek in the valley up towards Partnun. It was a veritable highway. The snow compressed enough by all the skis that we didn't even have to don our snowshoes. Once we reached the little village (well, collection of huts really) the terrain got a bit more wild and we followed somewhat less frequented ski tour ascent tracks.

Smiling faces for the obligatory summit selfie.

Gaining the Gemschtobel requires a short scramble up a steep couloir. A natural choke point for the ski touring crowd as they have to take off their skis to climb. We weant at a steady clip towards the summit and reached it about 4 hours after leaving the parking lot. The summit features an enormous cross and a bench with great views. The ridge also marks the border to Austria which meant we had a fun mix of accents with people scaling the peak from either side.

Extremely comfortable resting spot on the summit.
What a view.
A kid once more.

Christian slipped, broke one of his hiking poles and bumped his knee. For a moment he was barely able to walk due to the pain. But luckily it improved quickly and it seemed like "just" a big bruise and no major injury. For a moment it looked like this perfect day in the mountains would find a very abrupt end. Serves as a reminder how a split second of inattentiveness can quickly turn an entire outing sour in a big way. Unforgiving terrain, even in the best of circumstances.

The steep bit. Doesn't look like much from this angle, but was quite intimidating, especially coming down.
Skiers queying up at the steep section behind us. Look at all these climbing walls!
Partnunstaffel in front of the mighty Schijenflue.

While we clearly envied the skiers on the way down, we nevertheless had plenty of fun ourselves. The slopes were steep enough in many places that we could just sit down on our bums and glissade down the mountain. We got back to the car after a great 7 hour, 16km and 1,500m roundtrip.