Cragging at Klus Balsthal

I had hopes for a multi-pitch climb. They were shattered by yet another rainy day. May saw 1.5x to 2x normal rainfall and June started out in a similar vein. On the other hand Björn was also still recovering from a cold and thus wasn't too sad about going for something a little less committing. So I studied the weather map and cloud patterns once more and decided we should try a new (to us) crag in the Jura. Klus Balsthal offers a short approach and a large variety of routes, including an interesting multi-pitch.

The rock seems to be some combination of limestone and sandstone? At least to my completely clueless non-geologist eyes it seems to feature some aspects of both types of rock. We opted to climb on the gray slab and immediately fell in love with it. It's steep and quite tall (we climbed on a 70m single rope). The climbing is technical on lots of tiny ledges and crimps. Tremendously satisfying. Since the wall is a little less than vertical you can surprise yourself with what tiny structures you can still cling to. Feels very badass despite being in very reasonable difficulty grades.

We successfully on-sighted / flashed:

  • Kleiner Unsinn, 6a
  • Direkter Pfeiler, 6a+
  • Mittlere Platte, 6b
  • Sanku, 6a+
  • Grosser Unsinn, 6a

I also took what were likely the two largest lead falls for me ever when trying to climb the 15 meter extension of the routes. I kinda eye-balled the terrain ahead without consulting the topo. It seemed like there was quite a bit of structure and it didn't seem materially different to what I had already climbed to get to that point, so I guessed it would be easy. Turns out the pitch was indeed graded 6c, so quite a bit harder. On my first attempt I got caught in an open door position. Only my left hand and foot stuck to the wall and my right side was slowly swinging outwards, shifting my center of gravity away from the wall. With the second attempt I made it past that section and then reached a position where I could stretch and barely get two fingers of my left hand into a small undercling crack. Unfortunately I didn't leave sufficient space to match my right hand into the same crack and trying to fix that mistake threw me off balance again. With 30+ meters of rope out at that point and quite a bit above my previous clip I fell past a few bolts before being arrested. No harm done and with my third go I finally completed the pitch to the top.

A great crag. An immediate new favorite of ours and lots of routes to go back to!

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