Mittagfluh, via "Fritz u Franz im nüe Glanz", 350m, 5a+

Mark, Luigi and I started the Grimsel climbing season. First time this year on granite. The pass isn't open yet, but you can drive up all the way to the Grimsel Hospitz. This is enough to reach some good climbing. A year of Corona lockdown induced inactivity isn't good for anyone's fitness, so we decided to take it easy in the beginning. The 350 meter granite slab of the Mittagfluh is the obvious choice. The only route I haven't already climbed on the South face was the easy "Fritz u Franz im nüe Glanz", so we opted to do that one.

On the approach. The wall looming tall.
This winter was rough for a lot of vegetation.
Mark just before we hit the steep ramp at the base.

We had a comfortably late start and stopped for breakfast on the way. Sorted our gear at the parking lot (Luigi is very particular about his "metal" and insults everybody else's gear - even if that gear is objectively better ;-P). There's still quite a bit of snow on the approach and the final bit on frozen snow just at the base of the wall is steep enough to mandate careful foot placements. We arrived with me bringing snow shoes, Mark crampons and Luigi just his regular hiking boots. On the drive up we were contemplating who'd be suffering the most on the approach. In the end, we all just went up in hiking boots and it was perfectly fine.

Mark's lead.
Luigi's lead. Advantage of showing up late: you get the sun sooner!
~Halfway up.

There were two parties already climbing when we arrived. One on the left side of the wall and another one off to the right. Once we got going we quickly overtook both of them. We started referring to them as the "slow group on the left" and the "unfathomably slow group on the right". By the time we reached the top, about three hours after we started, the party on the right still wasn't even halfway up the wall while the group on the left was still a few pitches below us. Another group showed up briefly on the edge of the wall - we referred to them as the "competent late comers in red". I couldn't tell at the distance, but it turns out I knew them. Fellow Googler Alex and climbing partner climbed the West wall via "Abadia". At 7a, 6b A0 a *much* harder route than anything on the South wall. We shall return for that one!

Hanging out.
The setting is quite spectacular. Even more so if you climb the canonical "Südkante" which is right on the edge of the steep drop over the Westface.
Mark and Luigi coming up.

We had agreed from the beginning that we'd rappel instead of hiking off. The descent is dicy even in good conditions and now there's still a lot of snow on the narrow ledges. And in any case, even the normal descent still requires a handful of rappels. So we went straight back down. By the time we reached our hiking poles and boots at the base the other parties were still going up ;-) Good day out - even if the climbing wasn't all that challenging. Great area, weather and company. And it just feels good to be active and outside again.

The village of Guttannen.
Summit selfie.
Luigi know-it-all bullshitting and commenting on Mark's rope handling technique. As is usual for this valley, it was very windy. This makes rope fuckups likely. So Mark decided to do the first rappel with saddle bags. Truth be told, this worked very well, but still didn't stop us from making fun of him ;-P
It is quite a tall wall!
A look into Abadia in the West face. We'll be back!
"Bitch in a Ditch!" Luigi found a hole in the snow.

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