1. Chrüzberg (1884m) via "Flugroute", 6a-

We've had the first really hot day in Zürich with temperatures reaching 30°C. Good time to go climb a North facing wall! On my reconnaissance hike through the Alpstein the previous week I had scouted out tons of inviting limestone towers. Some research in the guidebooks revealed that one of the routes up the first Kreuzberg has been opened by none other than Swiss climbing legend Max Niedermann. I've climbed two of his routes (Gross Bielenhorn and Graue Wand) and found them both to be outstanding. Thus it was an easy decision to follow in his footsteps again and climb the "Flugroute" on the North face of the first Kreuzberg.

I'm officially a Max Niedermann fan boy now. I think I'll keep seeking out his routes and try and repeat them.

Mad respect for this dude. I mean, look at that gear! With that kind of protection you might as well free solo.
Tourist trail on the approach from the cable car.
The Saxerlücke. We'll be climbing the tower flanking it.
Mark on the final approach to the wall.

Niedermann started opening routes in the 50s and continued for more than thirty years, amassing an impressive list of first ascents. He has a keen eye for good rock and beautiful natural lines. At the time people were still following the natural weak spots of a wall instead of intentionally / artificially seeking out difficult moves. They were also climbing "a muerte" with protection that is barely deserving of the name. 70 years later, modern equipment, gym training, re-bolted routes, knowledge of the route and reliable weather forecasts allow mere mortal weekend warriors like myself to follow in the footsteps of the greats. In Niedermann's time, grade VI and maybe VII were the absolute limit of what was considered humanly possible. Today the world elite is approaching grade XII and everyday Joes like me can climb VI and VII without too much effort.

Me leading the first pitch towards the "weisse Chöpfli".
Björn following in the first pitch.
Mark testing his mental fortitude on the downclimb / traverse pitch.

The Flugroute got its name because of the dramatic falls, "flights", of the first two parties that tried to repeat Niedermann's feat. Björn, Mark and I fared better and managed a clean ascent from the bottom up ;-P We started the day relatively late because on the one hand I had to drop off the kids and on another we wanted to give the route some time to dry and warm up in the morning. We also allowed ourselves the luxury of shortening the approach via the Staubern cable car, the world's first fully solar powered cableway.

Me following the traverse.
Mark coming up my favorite pitch of the entire route. Glorious!
Björn making his way towards the sun.

Even with the cable car, getting to the base of the climb requires a bit of a hike and some searching for the correct approach and start. I set out to lead the first pitch shortly before noon. It is nominally the hardest one of the entire route, graded at 6a-. We brought several different topos with somewhat conflicting information. The claim was that one would need trad gear, so I'm hauling a full rack on my harness. However, it turned out that over the years the route got re-bolted several times and the protection is now good enough that one doesn't need and mobile protection at all. Ah well, extra weight training for us and some exercise in placing additional gear.

Me leading the steep crack pitch. Once more extremely satisfying moves.
Björn and Mark coming up.

Mark led the second pitch. A short downclimb followed by an exposed traverse. Required strong nerves and good balance. Then it was my turn again for pitch three. In my opinion the most beautiful of the entire route. Steep, but with big jugs and extremely satisfying climbing moves. Björn got a long diagonal pitch leading him up and into the sun. Very welcome, as he suffers from bad circulation in his hands and his hands were going numb in the shade of this North facing wall. Then it was my turn again for a steep crack. Another fantastic pitch that ended in a cave where the route book was supposed to be. Instead, we just found a water filled container. Looks like the wall mount did not work as intended. Björn led the final pitch to the summit where we top out with great panoramic views over the Rhine valley.

In front of the cave that was supposed to contain the route book.
Björn setting out to lead the final pitch.

Some exposed scrambling and three very steep rappels through a gully got us back to the base. From there we hiked back up a bit to find a trail less travelled for a long and knee breaking descent back to the car. All told, we descended roughly 1800 meters that day. And a great day it was!

Waiting my turn to rappel.
Flying down the wall.
Overhanging rappel.
Björn. A speck on the wall.
Nice trail!
The trail less travelled. Steep and often barely visible.
Endless switchbacks through the forest.
Björn shot a video of me puzzling around on the crux pitch.

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