A week of garden work with my brother

My brother Torsten and I made a deal: he'd drive down from Cologne to help me for a week of garden work. In exchange I'd invite him for a week of skiing in winter. Last week of June he delivered on his part of the deal and the two of us worked our butts off hauling literally tons of gravel, dirt and granite around. To wrap up the week and "relax" our sore muscles, we went on a long multi-pitch climb - only the second ever for Torsten. But that's another post ;-P

Preparing the garden shack to be painted. I had already sanded it down a while ago, but then the weather was never dry enough to paint it.
Lukas "helping". Unfortunately this entire coat of paint was a waste and we had to redo it completely. The store sold us some weird hybrid paint that didn't cover anything at all. When we went back to get the correct paint, the clerk was shaking his head at whatever his colleague must have been thinking.
Warmup exercise.
Our kids and a neighbor kid sorting gravel in the backyard. We are about to redo this flight of stairs completely and re-use the gravel in front of the house.
Cooling down under the sprinkler.
The professionals arrive. We had some blocks of granite of a few hundred kilograms each to move. Not to mention carting off all the left over gravel that we didn't manage to disappear into various nooks and crannies around the house.
The gardener was super proud of this particular crane construction. Apparently it's unique and made to specification just for him. Super useful to. Long range and maneuverability allows them to work in a garden directly from the road without destroying anything. And he pointed out that it was a great recruiting tool - potential employees see the toy, understand it might save their backs - and sign up.
Puzzling in the granite blocks.
Torsten assessing the result of our efforts.
Meanwhile painting progresses in front of the house. And we're digging out the old grass to fill it up with good topsoil instead of the existing construction waste.
Soo much dirt to move...
Lukas and Leonie getting ready to sleep outside. In the end only Leonie dared to actually stay. But she ended up sleeping there for two nights in a row and only stopped because there was a thunderstorm coming.
Reading the bedtime story. Not a bad view to fall asleep to.
Torsten hijacking the gardener's truck.
Subtle, but important: we filled in two full truckloads of topsoil, raising the level of the grass almost to the entrance way. We also transplanted some of the surviving good patches of grass into a new location.
Recycling the pebbles from the old backyard steps. The steps in this picture used to have very sharp gravel that was painful to walk barefoot and spread everywhere.
Sorting the available granite slabs. Another recycling project: they used to be placed in strategic locations in the grass for the dog. But we don't have a dog...
Getting out the heavy duty gear. Rental property of the hardware store, so we had to finish in time for the day's thunderstorm. A bit of a rush.
The muscle cement mixer.
Removing a row of slabs that started sagging down the slope. Propping up the remaining ones with a barrier, making more room for the plants and stabilizing the gravel.
While Torsten and I had dedicated a week of "vacation" to this work, Anita had her regular work and could only help occasionally. She cut the plants and kept everyone well fed and hydrated ;-P
First step is in!
Just poured the cement for the second step. In brutal heat.
Measuring the third and final one.
Torsten with his professional pants. I'd envy him for the kneepads on many an occasion.
Slowly approaching final form.
Leonie and Lukas playing dress up.
Not too bad if I may say so myself.
When it's hot like this you hide away in the underground parking garage to practice cycling...


Bergseeschijen (2820m), via "Esther", 270m, 6a

A weekend with glorious weather. Due to a miscommunication (or my notorious absent-mindedness...) our guests from Germany continued on to Italy a day earlier than expected. My brother would only arrive later that night from Cologne. This left almost an entire day to go climbing! A bunch of my climbing friends were hanging out on the Göscheneralp campground with their families. A good opportunity to join up with them in the morning and climb the Bergseeschijen.

Scrambling up to the start of the route.
View towards the Göschenen valley.

Luigi, Mark and I had already tried a route on the steep West face last year. That ended in a retreat. Thus this time around I suggested a more modest route up the slabby South ridge: "via Esther".

Tom in an exaggerated "climbing buttshot" position.
Tom negotiating the crux section.
Tom in action.

Luigi, Tom and I started from Göscheneralp at around 8 in the morning. Even this early in the day the sun on the steep shadeless approach was already brutal. It took us less than two hours to cover the roughly 800 meters of elevation gain and start climbing. We decided to lead in blocks so that each of us would get to lead three pitches. Tom started and thus got to enjoy the crux 6a. A traverse under a small roof that made it difficult to keep sufficient pressure on your feet on a blank slab. I got to lead the unexciting middle pitches and Luigi finally topped out via the spectacularly fun exit pitches. They are steep and exposed and only bolted at the anchors, requiring trad protection for the climb itself.

An Italian party in one of the neighboring routes.
Luigi coming up.
One of my leads.

We topped out 3.5 hours after we started and walked off after a quick summit rest. The descent is a comfortable walk along the ridge followed by a via ferrata style scramble from the saddle. Then down the knee breaking trail from the morning. In the end it took us 7.5 hours car to car.

We watched the Rega mountain rescue service carry two people out via the longline.
Easy, but super fun terrain.
Tom and Luigi with a scenic backdrop.
Luigi on the sharp end.
Mighty Salbit West ridge. >30 pitches of up to 6b+. Next year maybe?
Luigi on the fantastic exit pitches.
Topping out.
Luigi pointing out important things, I'm sure.
Tom scrambling down the descent.
The SAC Bergsee hut.
Hard to imagine that coming down from the saddle is a walking trail (albeit protected by metal cables).
We were accompanied by a bunch of annoying goats for the last half hour on the trail.