Saturday, September 12, 2015

Climbing around the Mattstock

After being dodgy in the beginning of the week, we end up with a decent weather forecast, particularly for the eastern bits of Switzerland, for the weekend. So East we go!

The bus takes us to Amden, where we take the (very slow, but scenic) chairlift, with great views of the wall we'll be climbing, up to Niederschlag (hope that name isn't foreshadowing!). From there we follow the path up to Walau, take the road to p1506 and then follow the trail past the Schibenchnölli. Here we choose the leftwards set of routes (the right set are all 4s and we want to do some 5s today). We aren't alone up here: there are multiple sets of climbers visible, but it doesn't seem tooooo crowded. A bit further along the path, and then we head across the field and steeply up until getting to the foot of the wall. After a bit of scrambling we are at the base of our route: Südostwandplatte (5a, 5a, 4a, 5a, 5a). There are two other climbers above us, but they are already off the first stand by the time we're getting ready to go, so there seems to be no risk of congestion.

The climbing is on good limestone with plenty of Wasserrillen (which is really fun to climb); it's not easy, but it doesn't push either of us to the limits either. This is the first time we're climbing with the zwillingseil, and the first time Greg is doing a multi-pitch route using the ATC to belay. Though it takes a bit of getting used to, everything goes well, we don't end up with any big messes, and we very much enjoy making it to the top. Once on the ridge we find what we think is the beginning of the abseilpiste, get everything ready, and then head down. In the first stretch down, Andrea figures out that we're actually still on one of the routes, but that she can see the real abseilpiste, so she moves over (fortunately in a relatively flat area under a bunch of bush). Greg comes down to that spot directly (over/through the bush) and then we're properly oriented. We haven't done enough abseiling to be really fluid with the rope management and using the two ropes does complicate things, so the whole trip down takes longer than it should, but we do eventually make it to the bottom. We switch shoes, take off the gear, pack everything up, and then head back down to the hiking trail (better way down than what we took up) to find a spot for a late lunch with a view.

Post-lunch we walk back to the chairlift, enjoy the views on the long, slow trip down, and then head to the hotel (50m from the lift station), where we have a cool beverage before showering, a rest, and then a good meal before heading to bed.

On Sunday we wake to clouds (though no rain) and, after a good breakfast, take the chairlift back up not too long after it opens. Once back at the base of the wall (same route to get there as we took down the day before) we choose to take Gimmi (5a, 5b, 4c, 5a/b) to the top. This is another very enjoyable climb. The top is a bit adventurous (we change routes to the right to avoid an overhang), but it all goes well. Once up top we change shoes, have lunch, pack up some of the gear, and then decide to do the ridge on foot to the top of the Mattstock. Andrea has read hikr descriptions that make this sound quite feasible, the views are good, and we do enjoy our ridge hiking, so off we go. It's a very nice ridge: much of it has a clear use trail (though there is a bit of tramping through/over the evergreen scrub) and it's mostly easy to follow. We do succeed in missing the fork that heads off to the bit where you need to climb down a bit from the "Nase" (I think this is around p1906 on the map), but we figure our mistake out relatively quickly and find the proper route. Nothing too hairy (though certainly T5) and very enjoyable. We're at the peak (which we, amazingly, have to ourselves) before we know it. It's super windy, so after packing up the last of the gear we start down the red-white trail.

Aside from a bit of sprinkling that encourages us to speed up and way too many switchbacks, the route down is uneventful. The chairlift takes us back to down where we get the bus that starts us on our way back home.

All in all, a very nice weekend with a couple of very interesting and enjoyable routes.


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Climbing around the Stockhorn

Our original plan was to head to the Stockhorn on Saturday, do some climbing in the Klettergarten there, spend the night at Oberstockenalp, then climb more on Sunday. The weather didn't exactly play along.

From the train from Bern to Spiez we could see that the Stockhorn itself, along with most of the top of that ridge, was completely in clouds. Andrea has the very clever idea to stop at Burgholz (a few stops before Erlenbach and the gondola up to the Stockhorn) and go climbing at Burgfluh, the old quarry there. Fortunately, the conductor in the train tells us that we need to move to the front of the train to be able to get off in Burgholz (we'd forgotten about the long-train -- short-station problem in the Simmental when boarding). We pile off the train there and head up to the quarry, it's a short walk and luckily it's not closed today for skeet shooting (apparently a thing there). The quarry has easier routes at the edges and harder ones in the middle. The right-hand side is already occupied by a large group that includes a bunch of kids, so we go left. There's another group of two there, but that's no problem. We do a number of 4s and 5s (not all in the Plaisir book) and generally enjoy the nice rock (though not the quiet: the group to the right grows as we are there and ends up being fairly loud). After a few hours the weather is looking a bit better, so we head back down to the train, go to Erlenbach, then take the gondolas up to the Stockhorn.
Climbing in the old quarry at Burgholz
We're pretty much alone up top (the weather really isn't all that great). After enjoying out the observation platform over the dramatic drop (the glass floor is cute, but we can't see much of the panoramic view due to the clouds), we head over to check out the Klettergarten. What we see is pretty tempting, so we decide to do a bit of climbing before heading down to Oberstockenalp. Andrea starts by doing part of "Flash oder Cash", and finishing with Nume für Afänger. Paul does the same thing, but while he's climbing it starts to lightly snow. This quickly turns to sleet, ick! Paul finishes the route with sleet running down the limestone, but that's definitely it for the day. We pack up, pull on the gore tex, and head down to Oberstockenalp. This is, apparently, an amazingly family friendly place, because it is packed full of kids. There are probably 15 kids, mostly young, along with a sprinkling of adults to take care of them. There's one other group of climbers, who are also looking somewhat bemused by the situation. After settling in, a good meal, and a bit of hanging around, we head off to bed. Between the snoring and one kid who spends a lot of time crying, it's not the most restful night.
snow/sleet collecting on the rope bag
We're the first ones up in the morning. The weather looks much better (yay!), so after breakfast we follow the trail to the Strüssligrat and take this very nice path along the ridge with great views to p2043. Here we break out the rope, put on the climbing gear, and follow the route Chum u Lueg along the ridge. This is very well bolted (probably more than required for us on something that maxes out at 3b) and a lot of fun to follow. When we get above the climbing area, we leave the ridge and follow the rope down to the bottom of the routes, where we meet the other climbing group from the alp. We climb Flash oder Cash (the whole thing this time), Märitfroeli, Bergdohle, and Pistache before the weather starts to look overly threatening and we decide to quit. After lunch at the restaurant up top, we take the gondola down and then make our way back home.

along the Stockhorn ridge

Wasserrillen climbing in the clouds
Very nice climbing on good limestone with pronounced Wasserrillen on a couple of routes that were a blast to climb.