Sulzfluh via "Rialto", 590m, 6b

Another day of glorious weather. Mark and I decided to go to Rätikon. Famous for its super hard climbing (Silbergeier, WoGü, Hannibals Alptraum, Neverending Story, Déjà - all routes that were at their time considered to be the hardest multi pitch climbs in the world and sometimes had to wait decades for their first red-point ascents). While these grand names are reserved for the climbing world's who-is-who, some more accessible classics are achievable for mere mortals like us. We picked Rialto, nearly 600 meters of climbing with a 6b crux and several 6a+ pitches.

Mark. Off route. Leading up a nice slab.
Some wet streaks to make everything more exciting.

As usual, the first crux for Mark and me was finding the route in the first place. We had both been to the area several times and Mark had even climbed one of the neighboring routes. Yet we still managed to take a wrong turn barely minutes after leaving the parking lot. Deep in conversation we were simply not paying attention. That mistake was corrected quickly, but it didn't get easier once we got to the wall proper. There was a bewildering array of routes starting at the base and our topo proved woefully incomplete and inaccurate. To make it even more complex, the starts were still hidden behind a snowfield, so we couldn't see the first bolts and potential labels written on the wall. So we scrambled back and forth, trying to make up our mind which way to go. We met another climber with the same problem. He was alone, his partner had apparently broken his foot doing martial arts the day before. So he went to scout the area and tried to find the same route.

My bonus overhang. Not too hard, but also not a 4c.
Finally! Back en-route.

We eventually went with out best guess. The first few pitches were adventure climbing. We were clearly off route and had to improvise a combination of several different routes. This meant we actually got to use some of our backup mobile protection. Mark led an exciting runout slab while I got to lead a powerful move over an overhang. Our topo had a trivial 4c pitch at this point and this was clearly not it ;-P

Nice vistas.
Mark coming up over the crux 6b.

Anyway, it didn't really matter, because the lower half of the route is mostly not all that interesting in the first place. We got to a ledge where we finally got a clear label on the wall, confirming that we had merged back onto our original objective. The top section is what justifies the route's status as a classic. The 6b pitch is mostly about a single powerful bouldering section above a small overhang. Once you haul your weight over the hump you are greeted with very welcome slots to pull yourself up on. Then it continues with what I consider the money pitch - a steep 6a+ that features beautifully compact, finely structured limestone. Delicate feet and elegant moves on tiny crimps. All in a fantastic setting with great exposure and views across the valley. A+.

Mark leading the money pitch. IMHO the most beautiful section of the entire route.
Just look at this rock! Doesn't get any better.

A bit of scrambling on the crumbling ridge and we were on the way down via a steep alpine trail protected by chains. Once we made it back to the lake we were more than happy to drop 10 franks into the collections box to ride down the rest of the way on a trottinette (scooter). Very satisfying and long day. I felt quite good about myself - considering that after surgery I still practice standing on one leg again during physical therapy twice a week: "I was a good boy and have done my exercises on the weekend Mr therapist!" ;-P

Sliding down.
Riding down.

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