Gumenplatte (2020m), via "Jermy & Melinda", 200m, 5c+

We've spent the past weekend as a family escaping the brutal heat to beautiful lake Klöntal. Swimming and camping directly on the shore. The lake has historically been used for mining ice (!) to provide ice to rich Zürich in summer. This was big business, at times involving up to 300 horses. Of course the reason this worked so well is that the lake is sheltered by a massive 2000m North face and spends a large portion of the day in the shade. On top of that, it is surrounded by caves which allow cool storage of blocks of ice till deep into the summer months. Of course a North face like that is also appealing to me as a climber. This particular one is a serious undertaking with all the alpine challenges one may imagine: no fixed protection, difficult route finding, risky approach, no opportunity to bail, loose rock, loooong. Too much to take on in my current shape without further preparation. But I figured I could at least scout out the area und get to know the local rock a bit better. So I recruited Mark for the next weekend to climb the Gumenplatte, a 200m face opposite the majestic North wall.

Looking back at lake Klöntal. Even this official trail is steep and barely visible.
It doesn't look like much from this angle, but it was frequently chest high.

The climb is rarely visited and scarcely mentioned anywhere. Despite the face looking very nice at a distance, prompting memories of the similar looking Brüggler limestone, it would turn out to be quite different in character. It started with the approach. There's a proper trail up to a scattering of alpine huts. But then it continues pathless and requires some serious bushwhacking to even make it to the rock. This cost a lot of effort and got us soaking wet in the underbrush. The entire day felt like a steam sauna. It was overcast, so we didn't get the scorching sun of previous days, but the temperatures were still high and it must have been 100% humidity. We were running with sweat and water. To escape the vegetation I switched to following the dry rocky bed of a creek. This meant some scrambling and even short climbing sections, but overall it still seemed like the better trade-off to us.

Following the dry creek bed to avoid wet and slippery and annoying vegetation.
Crumbling slabs.

We found the start of the climb straight away, without any detours or getting lost. This is a small miracle, considering Mark and I always get lost. And indeed, we would make up for it later on the way down when we'd miss a turn and walk a few kilometers extra ;-P The rock turned out to be crumbling and rotten from the very start. It took me a few false starts before I got used to the idea of trusting it and led the first pitch. It's a very dynamic route in the sense that by climbing it, you are changing it. Lots of hand and footholds would just crumble away. The anchors are bolted well, but pitches frequently feature only three to four bolts. This means you want to place some mobile protection as back-up. Not easy to find trustworthy placements in rock like this.

Into the cloud he went.
Mark topping out.

The crux section for us was a short traverse on a smooth slab of rock. Mark tried it for a while and then cheated by pulling on a quickdraw. Being the follower on top-rope, I felt more daring and attempted a dynamic move, reaching my destination hold with a bit of momentum. Too much momentum for this rock. It simply broke off completely and I took a fall with the piece of rock still in my grip. No damage done (except to the wall). Not sure if the character of that move used to be different when the route was first climbed, but it seemed very tricky to climb this cleanly in its current state.

Smashed canteen with no content.
Family photo.

Befitting for the character of the route, the canteen that was meant to hold the route book, was smashed open and deformed by rockfall and the route book was nowhere to be seen. Disappointing really, as this is one of the few routes where I would have been very curious about how many people climbed it and who the most recent party before us would had been. Ah well.

Mark admiring the views into the Linth valley.
...and wild animals.

We topped out on a beautiful flowery meadow and enjoyed a lunch break with dramatic views through the drifting low hanging clouds. Then we went for the long knee breaking descent. In the end, it turned out to be more of a hiking than a climbing day, but that's also nice ;-) Due to the clouds I got to do less peeking at the North wall than I hoped for. But either way, it was obvious that I need way more endurance and practice in foul rock before even trying to set out on such a big mission. Another day!

Beautiful trail through the forest.
The Löntsch. With some deeply cut canyons and nice views.
We had the entire wall to ourselves. It's probably not a good idea to climb this with multiple parties...
A long roundtrip. First go straight up, then take an enormous detour on the way down ;-) Lukily that only added distance, not elevation gain, so in the end it might have been an accidental, but still preferable, choice.


  1. Hi Sören,

    Also am Ruchenpfeiler gibt's sicher deutlich besseren Fels wie an der Gumenplatte... ich würde sogar behaupten, dass er über weite Strecken besser ist. Andererseits gibt's dann allerdings auch ein paar Zonen, die eher noch schlimmer sind wie die Gumenplatte (anderer Charakter jedoch, dieses Blätterteig-Zeugs gibt's nicht).

    Ähnliches gilt für den Zustieg... würde ich jetzt an die Gumenplatte als mühsamer bezeichnen. Wenngleich es zum Ruchenpfeiler natürlich schwieriger und vor allem deutlich ernsthafter ist.

    Eine Gemeinsamkeit gibt's allerdings bei beiden Zielen: vom Ausstieg eine längere Wanderung hintenrum zurück zum Ausgangspunkt.

    Lg, Marcel

    PS: an der Gumenplatte war ich 3x... du kennst es: das erste, das einzige und das letzte Mal ;-)

  2. Oh wow. Prominenz auf meinem Blog. Dein Tourenbericht zum Ruchenpfeiler hat mich ganz schön eingeschüchtert - wenn jemand von deinem Kaliber Respekt davor hat muss ich es wohl erst recht ;-P

    Hoffentlich kann ich jetzt, wo die Kinder ein bisschen älter sind, wieder regelmässiger trainieren und so etwas wie den Pfeiler dann irgendwann ernsthaft in Angriff nehmen.