Thursday, May 05, 2016

Climbing and hiking above Biel

We spent Thursday through Saturday of the long weekend doing some climbing and hiking in the Jura. Andrea found a good location above La Heutte, the weather was good, we had a nice place to stay (the Metairie Werdtberg, which provided both good food and great views), it was a good weekend.

Day 1: After arriving at La Heutte by train we walk up to the climbing area Bonnes Fontaines. It's not super early, but there's still just one other couple where we are. Nice! We do:
  • Les Enfoires
  • Les Daltons
  • Lucky Luke
  • Yop (in the SAC book, but not Plaisir Jura)
Andrea also practice setting protection on her second time up Les Daltons. Greg got frustrated with that quickly and just climbed.
We then moved up to Innocent Love and Peaceful (also in the SAC book), but those were being camped at by a group who didn't seem to understand that it was ok to share a stand. Rather than argue, we set off and did the long, multipitch Arete ouest. This wasn't necessarily in our plan for the day, but we wanted to do some more climbing and had plenty of time, so off we went. The route is classic Jura mulit-pitch: a combination of bolts and trees for protection, trees for stands, etc. The hardest pitch was 4c, so we did the route in our approach shoes. There were a couple of bits where the route-finding wasn't completely obvious and where it was nice to have a tree available to wrap a sling around, and Greg managed to drop his ATC off the mountain (yay!), but it's a lot of fun. At the top of the route we follow trail markers for a bit and then just follow the ridge (and some faint traces of path) up to p1160, where we pick up the road that takes us to the hotel for the night. After post-exertion beverages enjoying the panoramic view of the Alps we shower, have a nice meal, and enjoy the rest of a quiet evening.

Day 2: Despite the earliest start we can get (it's tough when breakfast doesn't start until 8!), there are already a number of groups at the climbing area Le Paradis when we arrive. We make the wrong choice and start with the first pitch of Free Gras. By the time we realize that this is way too easy, the route we should have started on (Metatarses) is occupied. We try to make do by both climbing up to the top of Free Gras and climbing from there, but by the time Andrea has completed the first pitch of Ca Pique Greg things are crowded and Greg is pretty pissed off with the noise (particularly the barking dog). We bail and head around the corner, where the routes are shorter, but things are at least a bit quieter. We do a number of short, but varied, routes that aren't in our book and play around for a while. In the late afternoon we decide that we have enough time to do the multi-pitch Arete du Faucon. This certainty evaporates (for Greg) after we encounter the first group in front of us - after the first extended pitch - and can already see at least one group in front of them. We opt to head back down (requiring a bit of improvisation since Greg lost his ATC on day 1). All in all not an optimal day of climbing, we're both not completely thrilled as we head back to the hotel.
Day 3: The forecast is still quite good, at least until the afternoon, and we don't really want to risk another frustrating day of crowded climbing, so we decide to hike. A long hike with the heavy packs is going to be training, and the views are pretty damn good. The route isn't complicated: just follow the ridge. We very much enjoy the hiking, have a great meal at Untergrenchenberg, then head down to Grenchen where we get the train back go Basel.

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