Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Sunday walk from Pratteln to Muenchenstein

The weather was beautiful, so getting out and doing some walking was a must.
This was another one of those make-it-up-as-we-go-along hikes. We hopped on the S-Bahn from Basel, decided along the way to get off in Pratteln, and then just started walking uphill (always a good strategy).

Our route took us over the Schauenburgflue (there were climbers on the face), where we had lunch along with a big group of older hikers, along the canton border and past Schoenmatt, then down and towards Muechenstein. Along the way we picked a good supply of Baerlauch (Andrea was prepared with a big ziploc bag) to celebrate the spring.
on the way to the Schauenburgflue

lots of Baerlauch
We opted to stop in Muenchenstein and grab the tram back to Basel from there. A nice day out in the sunny springtime Jura!

Track to come.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Clean climbing practice at Grandval

After bouncing a bunch of options around for the day we decided to go to Grandval and do some clean practice in the "initiation" sector. The routes were unfortunately all a bit short, but there are some nice cracks that make it a good place to practice. There are also numerous places where there's a good placement a short distance above a bolt, so we were both able to do some good testing of our placements. By the end of the day we'd reached the point where we were both comfortable using a bolt at the bottom of the route and self-set protection for the rest of it.
a belt full of stuff
setting placements
 Great weather, fun climbing, and we had the sector to ourselves. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring Climbing in Tessin

We got lucky with the weather and had three days of sun and warm forecast for Tessin, so off we went to get in some climbing. It's becoming a tradition for the early spring! This time instead of staying in Locarno we picked a hotel right at Ponte Brolla. Super convenient: get up, have breakfast, walk to climbing. :-)
our bed right underneath the rocks
The trip down was our first trip through the new Gotthard basis tunnel. It's pretty wild to go through a 57 km tunnel and excellent to have 30 minutes lopped off our travel time to Bellinzona.

After arriving we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed right for the big climbing area at the Rovine del Castelliere. As a warmup we started with Farfalla (3c, greg leading) wearing our approach shoes (it's been a while since we did any slabs... this was an adventurous start!). We then moved off to the sector from last year's clean climbing course and did a mix of Pizzoccheri and Origano (4b) followed by a mix of Sunneblume and L'Intifada (5a, with great practice crack) to get in some practice with the friends. After the clean practice Andrea lead us up Schogsii, we did a nice snack break to enjoy the views and sun, greg did some mix of Chritin and the routes to either side of it (this was somehow a tricky route to follow), and then we abseiled back down a pitch (practice, practice!) before walking back to enjoy a beer at the Osteria on the corner in the last of the sun (also a tradition by now). Then back to the hotel for a shower and a great meal.
clean climbing practice

Saturday we got a reasonably early start and headed off to the other side of the valley to do Speroni di Ponte Brolla (11 SL, 5a, 5a, 5a, 5b, 5b, 5b, 5a+, 5a, 5b (2p.a.), 5b, 4b, Andrea started). We did the first "half" of this (though on an easier line to the left of the one this time) last year and then abseiled down. This time we went to the top. This is the longest multi-pitch that we've done to this point at the highest sustained difficulty level. The climbing was great and we had a blast, but after about 5 hours of climbing - we did a food break after the first "half" (i.e. between the slab section and the part where it gets steep) - we were definitely aware that we'd done something. It was fantastic to be completely alone on such a great route (we saw people far below on the slabs when we were mostly to the top, but that was it). The long lunch break in the sun at the top was well earned and we enjoyed it fully. The trip back down to the valley through the gorge also ended up being pretty adventurous. I'm sure later in the season this is easy to follow, but this early it wasn't always trivial to figure out where we should be going (other than "down", that part was easy). The post-climbing beers in the sun at the Osteria were particularly nice. :-)
looking down

Sunday we headed to Monte Garzo where we did Harlem (5 SL, 4c, 5b, 5a, 5a, 4b, greg started). This is the route we got rained out of last year, so it was nice to come back and have lovely dry conditions. After a nice route we also managed a very successful abseil - where success is measured by efficiency and lack of chaos ;-) - and then did a good lunch break in the sun before starting the long trip back home.

It was a great weekend of climbing. Lots of good practice and fun in the sun. :-)