Sunday, April 10, 2011

SAC Climbing Course

We wanted to learn at least something about climbing so that we can do more mountaineering tours, and be better prepared for the ones we do, so we tried the SAC Basel climbing course this year.

Thursday night we practiced knots in a climbing hall in Basel.

On Saturday we headed to the Klettergarten Pelzli near Grellingen.
After a review of the knots and some technique discussion, it was time to head up the rock. We did a couple of different routes, practicing climing ourselves and belaying others. Fun stuff.
After lunch (with a fire... too bad we decided not to bring sausages with us!) we did a bit more technique (belaying techniques for routes with multiple rope lengths) and then climbed another route or two before ending the day with a long (50m) abseil as practice. Greg was a bit nervous about this, but after the first step it was incredibly fun. Lesson #10 (after all the safety and technique stuff): the abseil ring gets really hot!
We both had quite a fun day.
On Sunday we took the train to Moutier and walked from there to the Arete de Raimeux. Here we broke into groups of two or three and then started climbing. The first part is a long slope somehow reminiscent of the one out of the Cirque de Troumouse, but with more poorly defined ridges. It's no doubt doable with good hiking boots, but not straight up like we did. :-) After a bit of traverse (walking in climbing shoes ends up not being as bad as I was afraid of, but I still wouldn't want to do it for very long), we did a bit more vertical and then made it to the ridge. From here we followed the ridge along with mixed climbing and walking (and one abseil section) until it broadened out a bit, where we stopped for lunch and to wait for the others to catch up. Greg's group was one of the first there, so he had plenty of time to do another short stretch of climbing for practice.
After everyone had arrived, we started the descent. This was three rope-lengths of abseil (fun!), followed by a scramble the rest of the steep way down, a stroll out of the gorge, and then the walk back into Moutier.
An excellent day!

Since we both really enjoyed the climbing, we're going to have to try to do it more often.

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