Läged Windgällen, "Zentralpfeiler", 300m, 6a

Anita and the kids were travelling to see her parents in Germany. This left me with a long weekend on my own. Not only that, but a long weekend with a great weather forecast. It was ON! For Saturday I recruited Luigi to head for the Klausenpass and climb the Läged Windgällen via the central pillar. Fairly sustained 10 pitches of up to 6a difficulty. The approach looked conveniently close from the pass road, but in the end we still spent quite some time on it. There's only the faintest of trails leading up to the wall, so we spent quite some time scrambling up pathless steep terrain.

Convenient approach on a side road of the Klausenpass. We walked, but you can also pay to drive this restricted access road.
I'm frequently amazed by old infrastructure like this natural stone wall. Someone manually collected all the rock to create and fence a meadow. So much effort.
Steep scree on the final few meters to the wall. Our objective is the central pillar in this image.

Once we started climbing we quickly realized that this was graded according to old school burly mountaineer's standards. Not only that, but it also seemed somewhat inconsistent - sometimes a 5c felt easier than a 5a and the 5a (usually well within our comfort zone) would make us swear. Two thirds of the way up there is a bit of an interlude where you have to traverse an easy pitch from the pillar to the main wall. This was only made memorable because there was still snow in the depressions that we awkwardly tried to avoid in order to keep our climbing shoes dry.

Luigi looking over to Clariden, trying to count how many people are still going ski touring at the end of May.
Sören on the sharp end.
Luigi on the sharp end.

According to the route book we are only the second party this year to complete this route. The book dates back all the way to the early nineties and it seems that most years only see a handful of ascents. Past the route book we still had two more pitches to go - the crux 6a and a bonus 4a scramble to top out. It was actually quite a amazing that there was any line at all to the top. On the left, a massive and massively overhanging cave that was running with water. Completely impassable. To the right, a series of smooth roofs. Also completely out of the question for us. But between them runs a slightly overhanging crack. This is where the route snuck through. Very athletic and satisfying moves. I always appreciate routes that follow the logically weak line up a face the most. Contrast this to many modern routes that artificially seek out difficult sections in order to ramp up the grade of the climb. Feels forced.

Growing exposure.
Beautiful pitch high above the deck.
Lots of air under my butt.

Two rappels from the top bring us to a ledge that we walked into a different route from where we climbed up. This is harder (I think 7a?) and thus correspondingly steeper. This makes for a comfortable and smooth rappel experience. Walking back to the car we pass a small alm and a single hut. This was deserted on the way up, but now there was a group of 10 very drunk and very loud women singing on the terrasse. Celebrating a bachelorette party they sent the bride to be to us with shots. She apparently had to share a certain number of drinks with random men and they were starved for men up here. We happily obliged ;-P That's how to end a climb in style: have a bunch of women sing "You are cool guys! You are cool guys! Shalalala!" after you.

We had to walk this exposed ledge to get to the rappel route. Not particularly difficult, but high consequence if you do fall...
Me working up the crux pitch. Hard to tell, but this required a bouldering move to leave a small cave at the anchor. Then a ton of slightly overhanging layback moves.
Yeti out of the fog.
Setting up the rappels.
Nice rappel anchor. A single pillar of rock to stand on with steep (sometimes overhanging) walls around me.
The free hanging rope gives an idea of how steep the wall is.

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