Hintisberg attempt

Weekend. Everybody was excited to go climbing. Yet our options were still limited. The entire month has been so wet that most multi pitch routes were still running with water or burried in snow. Thus we decided to go with a safe option that we already knew to work from the previous week's exploit: return to Hintisberg in the Bernese highlands. We needed two cars this time: Luigi and Tobi shared one, while Arne, Mark, Björn and I took our car. The tiny payroad up to the mountain had been cleared of more avalanche debris since we drove up the last time. Good. But our little VW Golf loaded up with four people still had insufficient clearance and we scraped the gravel with the bottom of the car quite a few times. On the way back the car would rattle and screech as if some of its metal parts had broken off. None of us could identify the problem though and by the time I got it to a garage for inspection two days later the symptoms were mostly gone. The tentative diagnosis was that we picked up some pebbles that got stuck in the brakes and the undercarriage. Made for scary driving.

Sorting gear while having breakfast.
The wall. So much to do here...
The holy trinity of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Mark and Arne paired up to climb Reisefieber (5c+), Tobias and Luigi went for the neighboring Escalera (6a) while Björn and I intended to climb Wärze (6b) on the other side of the wall. We got the advantage that our side is much steeper and thus had dried off more. The Eastern side of the wall where the others were climbing was still running with water in places. The disadvantge is that our side is much steeper ;-P

Me, inspecting our options and the water on the wall.
Steeper than your (well, mine anyways) usual fare! A sequence of small roofs.
Tobi belaying Luigi.

I got to lead the first pitch which we assumed to be 6b. I managed most of the way up before I took a lead fall. Like a total noob I reached for the rope while falling, damaging the skin on my right index finger by burning it on the rope. Don't do that kids! I continued on to what I assumed to be our anchor. It was protected like one, but the position didn't really agree with the topo and the difficulties suggested there. The next pitch was supposed to be an easy 5a, but we were right underneath a pretty significant overhang with an abandoned quickdraw dangling a few bolts above us, indicating that others had given up at this point before. I lead the second pitch as well. Cheating a move, but mostly fighting my way up.

Me, resting after taking my fall.
Belaying Björn.

The third pitch confronted us with yet another dilemma. Again the topo gives it an easy 5b grade, but the terrain we were looking at was anything but easy. Overhanging crumbling rock. Worse, from our vantage point, we could only spot a single bolt. I still set out to lead it and made it up quite a ways. I ended up in a crack of badly crumbling rock, bombarding Björn below me with fragments. Still no bolts to be seen. I usually bring a handful of cams on multi-pitches as back-up. Thinking that maybe the crack is meant to be protected manually I placed gear and pushed on. But when I still couldn't see where this was headed I decided to bail. Climbing into the unknown on just the few pieces of emergency gear seemed too risky. Neither the route nor the difficulties agreed with the topo. So I had a bit of adventure climbing where I downclimbed while collecting my gear from the wall.

Tobi in one of the early steeper sections of Escalera.
Björn coming up to me.
Steep corner. You can just make out the abandoned quickdraw. If this was the anchor we expected to be at, we'd be looking at 5b terrain.

We rappeled back to the base of the wall and hiked over to where the others were climbing. They were still going up, so Björn and I figured we could still get a few pitches in after them. We raced up Escalera. The first three pitches are 5b, 5c, 5c+ and we alternated leads this time. They were a great confidence builder. After getting our asses kicked on whatever we climbed earlier, these pitches were a joy to climb. Unfortunately we didn't get to finish the route in time. The others topped out and started rappelling, meeting us halfway up the wall. We didn't want to leave them waiting and Björn also had to get back home to relieve the dog-sitter. Thus we bailed.

A party of hardmovers high above us on the center of the wall. Where the 7+ routes are. Impressively overhanging roofs. Not only did the climbing look very impressive but one also needs to have good rappelling technique dragging fixed lines to get back to the wall.
Tobi, Luigi, Mark.

A bit of a bummer that we didn't get to finish any route. But at the same time we got some hard climbing in and I'm quite proud of the effort we made. So overall still a great learning experience and day out!

We bailed from this anchor. Not quite our high point because I made it a few meters up from here before turning around. Note how steep the wall behind us is!
The lone bolt and crack I followed until I thought it was no longer justifiable.
Björn coming down.
Luigi enjoying some of his "climbing orgasms" in the king pitch of Escalera.
Björn and I in Escalera. After we migrated to the other side of the wall.
Good mood.
Arne on the way down.
Mark on the way down.
We shall be back!

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