Brüggler (1777m) via "Grüne Plattenwand", 170m, 5a, with guests ;-P

Matt and Amy were visiting from Pittsburgh. Christian, Christian and I took a day off from work to go climbing with them on Brüggler. Our guests graciously agreed to write up their experience for this blog. Thank you Matt and Amy! Here it is in their words:

While vacationing in Zurich, Switzerland, we learned about 3 types of fun:

  • Type 1 - fun had while doing the activity
  • Type 2 - fun experienced retrospectively
  • Type 3 - fun experienced vicariously through the reactions of others

Looking at the majestic Rhine falls, hiking Mount Stoos, exploring Lucerne - these were all amazing and easily type 1 experiences.

Waking up at 5 AM to take a 1 hour hike to the base of a mountain, climb 200 meters up a sheer rock face, and a 1 hour hike back down- that was less obvious.

First glimpse of the Brüggler South Wall.
Matt and Amy on the approach.
Our welcome committee.

Matt: I’ve been climbing in gyms, on boulders, and up single pitch routes for several years now. This was my first multi-pitch sport climb. I was traveling to Zürich for work and somehow the topic of climbing came up. Sören generously offered to lead a climb and provide equipment that couldn’t easily be taken on a flight. I was super stoked to do my first bigger climb, and in the beautiful Swiss mountains no less! Unfortunately, it rained the entire first week I was there. Luckily, the weather the following week was perfect, and Sören plus a couple of my coworkers needed little convincing to take a vacation day to do some climbing. I was even able to rope my wife into joining us!

Last instructions before starting the climb...
...somewhat distracted by the locals.
Matt and Amy coming up.

Amy: I have been intermittently bouldering and occasionally top roping at climbing gyms for the last several years. I had never climbed outside before. When my husband, Matt, asked me if I wanted to climb a mountain with him, I was somewhat hesitant. I love new experiences, but the thought of climbing a real-life mountain was intimidating, to say the least. Most real outdoor climbers would probably not even consider a 200 meter climb a real summit. In fact, The Summit Post calls Brüggler a “harmless, small hill.” Regardless, I decided to go for it.

We dubbed this the "couples cave". Squeezing at the anchor to fit all five of us.
One of the Christians.
Both Christians.

We met up with Sören in the early hours of the morning on a sunny Tuesday, along with the rest of our climbing crew. Upon seeing Brüggler we were both nervous and excited. After getting through the hike to the base of the mountain, we met our first challenge: goats. Trying to gear up while keeping at least 3 goats at any given time from eating your equipment was a memorable start to the day. Eventually, we were on the cliff face and ready to go. Sören climbed the first pitch with an ease that made it obvious his Alpine climbing stories were no exaggeration. After steeling ourselves, we followed up behind him.

Good mood.
Matt seems to like it.

Matt: After gearing up and tying in (despite the goats’ best efforts) it was off to the first pitch. Sören led, and I belayed while our second group waited for us to be out of their way. After he made it up, I went up next (cleaning as I went) followed by Amy. So far this felt pretty similar to previous climbs, except there would be 5 more pitches.

Amy demonstrating "spread your legs and trust the rubber" technique.
Summit ridge. Lake Zürich in the background.

Amy: One of my clearest memories from the day was my first fall. While still terrified pretty much the entire time, realizing fully that if I fell I wouldn’t tumble to my death made the rest of the climb much more enjoyable.

Another moment that really stuck with me was the first time I got to a rest point. I sat down, turned around and looked at the view with the valley sprawled out below us and knew that no matter how scary this was, it was worth it.

Summit ridge and shadow of the summit cross.
Even topper.

Matt: After getting to the top of the first pitch we hung out for sec, reset, and Sören led again. This was a completely new experience for us; just sitting back in our harnesses, feet on the wall, and weight completely supported by the rope. I belayed again - belaying from an anchor was a new experience but the motions were familiar. It was actually less stressful now that we were out of reach from the goats below.

Climbing on limestone was a lot of fun, I’ve almost exclusively climbed on granite outdoors. The bomber hand holds and interesting “ribbed” section were a fun mix-up compared to the relative dearth of features found on some granite slabs.

Sören put us at ease with his knowledge and experience. We felt absolutely safe and that he was in control of the situation at all times. He even was kind enough to take some great photos of us climbing the mountain. He is an excellent lead for beginners.

View towards the city.
Family photo at the summit.
Hiking down.

The views all the way up were absolutely fantastic, but the peak was unforgettable. The golden early evening light bathed the surrounding peaks, and the valley below was cast into deep shadows. The gorgeous view, combined with the feeling of accomplishment, was an exceptional experience. And though we had heard the clanging bells, the goats did not reappear to harass us.

So what type of fun did we have? After getting the hang of things and being able to relax into the climb, after writing this post to look back on the day, and after seeing the reactions of friends and family to our adventure- we would say all three.

Some scrambling required.
Nice skies in the early evening.

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