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.


  1. We tried this route today but I just couldn’t commit to the move off the belay so we bailed and did the sud grat instead.

    1. Yeah, that was a tricky move for sure. I nearly failed even as a follower on top-rope. My solution was to press up against the roof to keep sufficient pressure on my feet and make the marginal dents in the slab usable as footholds. Worked, but only barely so.