Hohmad (2442m) via "Gemeinsame Pfade", 110m, 6a+

Sasha and I went up to Melchsee-Frutt to climb a route on the South face of Hohmad. This choice was dictated mostly by the weather and resulting conditions. It had been raining quite severely over the past days. The farmers around our house tried to make hay in a short sunny time window and now have their grass rotting in the fields. May and June have been unusually wet. For our chosen day we had to balance two conflicting considerations: On the one hand, we had to climb early in the day in order to avoid the afternoon's thunderstorms. On the other, we had to climb late in the day, in order to give the wall sufficient time to dry off. When we hiked on the shores Melchsee and Tannensee along the cliffs my heart began to sank. The trail was muddy and wet and most of the rock was visibly running with water. At least we had blue skies and the sun was out in full force, doing its thing.

Approach Switzerland-style: comfortably float up in a cable car...
...and proceed to take an elevator (!) down to the lake.
Scrambling up a steep scree field towards our objective visible in the center of the image.

After a few kilometers we caught the first glimpse of our wall and rejoiced: it looked perfectly dry! It was on! It also looked intimidatingly steep. Undeterred, we roped up and I started up the first pitch. Steep climbing over big juggy ledges. Fun! The only blemish was that most of the ledges were covered in loose rock and dirt. One has to be really careful not to slip or kill one's belay with rockfall. While I'd judge the rock quality to be adequate, we *did* pull off some handhold or foothold on every single pitch. It's definitely a more alpine route than you'd see in a Klettergarten. This point was also reinforced by the sparse bolting. The anchors are bolted and the crux moves get some fixed protection. But the route requires initiative on the part of the climber and parts that can be protected with trad gear have to be.

Clouds rising up from the valley.
Getting ready.
We timed it just perfectly, both in terms of time of year and time of day. The snow field had already retreated sufficiently for us to reach the wall. And the rock had already dried off from the previous' days rain.

Sasha wasn't feeling so well and was struggling with a persistent caugh. In such a weakened state his mental game wasn't at his usual level and he puzzled around quite some time with placing cams to calm his nerves on an exposed traverse. He proceeded to lead the crux pitch, so a sick Sasha is still a strong climber ;-P A day later he'd text me to say that a Covid test came back positive. Chapeau for such a strong showing despite the handicap! I hope for a speedy recovery.

First pitch. A 5c+, but steep and with lots of dirt on the holds.
Belaying Sasha into the traverse pitch.
The traverse. Also a 5c+, but psychologically demanding. It's very exposed and you climb around the corner into the unknown, without seeing the next bolt.

I got to lead the final pitch with a short crux over a steep slab that required delicate footwork. But after our recent dance on granite slabs this didn't give me much pause. We topped out and proceeded to rappel down the neighboring route "Einsame Reise". It's rated 6c and thus significantly harder than ours. But judging from what we could see during the rappel, it looked like fantastic (and doable!) climbing. Worth returning for.

Me following up after the traverse.
Sasha in the crux section of the following 6a pitch. This part was steep and exposed and required placing your own gear.
Sasha leading the 6a+ crux pitch.
After making it through the difficult part.
Me following up to the anchor. I was in and out of my jacket. The sun got you hot in no time, but there were occasional chilly bouts of wind.
Almost done now!
The first overhanging rappel.
The last rappel to the ground. Goes to illustrate just how steep the route is.
The first ascensionist's topo. The little x's are an accurate count of all the bolts in the route. Entire pitches have only two or three and thus require additional mobile protection or extremely strong nerves. It was always possible to find bomber placements though, so I very much agree with this style of bolting. Make the anchors safe but allow for some adventure in the route itself.
The route was opened in 2011 and apparently sees only very few ascents? Surprising really. I thought it was beautiful and nicely homogeneous climbing!

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