Silbergeier

After our well earned rest day yesterday, our alarms rang sharp at 5am this morning to get us going for the long day ahead. We chose to start early to beat the morning sun to the wall so that the conditions for the fist few pitches on the route would be prime and to avoid overheating as we paced up the steep walk-in. We left the van sharply from our camping spot lower down in the valley and headed up to the mountain hut where we did our usual routine of refilling water bottles and and using the local facilities before starting up the steep part of the approach.

getting psyhed at the base

Getting psyched at the base

‘Silbergeier’ is situated high in the valley which to approach the base of the climb you must take a steep but well trodden path for roughly an hour up to the beginning of the scree slopes, make slow soul destroying progress up this and then just when you think your there l, you have 200m of jumaring to do up steep and very loose terrain.

With the approach dealt with we didn’t stop to relax as Robbie wanted to tackle the first pitch, a powerful 40m 8b, whilst it was still shaded by the surrounding cliffs from the morning sun. He tied into the sharp end and before the sun had a chance to warm even the earliest lit rock, he was shouting down that he was safe and for me to follow.

With the next few pitches being slightly lower in the grades and well rehearsed by Robbie they were dispatched with little trouble, I’d even managed to cleanly climb one of the pitches I’d been working on through the week which was a great motivator and kept the psyche high. We arrived at the large ledge three quarters of the way up the route before midday and agreed to stop and chill out for a few hours to let the midday heat pass and to recover whatever strength was left to deal with the last two crux pitches that lay ahead.

Settling in and organising our gear on the ledge we quickly realised the only flaw in our plan to rest there. the cliff is south facing and we were sat directly in the scorching sun!! Quick thinking (more like desperation) had us fashioning a rope line across the ledge with which to hang our jackets and equipment from in an attempt to create a little shade. We sheltered in our homemade ‘fort’ and waited out the prevailing sun, keeping social media up to date with our progress with what seemed like the best connection we’d had in the Ratikon (you only have to climb the hardest route to get it!)

our 'fort'

our ‘fort’

With the heat finally dying down Robbie decided it was make or break time to attack the last two pitches, he didn’t hold back. The first crux in the 8b+ pitch went smoothly with only some minor grunting making an appearance as he battled through the large move at the very end of the pitch, I knew the route was ticked before he’d clipped the chains and he’d look solid all the way up and knew determination would push him through to the top without failure.

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

I Jugged the last pitch to join Robbie at the top and we shared an awesome moment ofexuberance and jubilation as I congratulated him on his red-point ascent of the route and our overall success on our first big-wall together, we’d worked so well together and kept a really great presence on the wall keeping each other psyched and in high spirits,
something that I think can dramatically change the experience and outcome of climbing on walls like that.

At the top!

At the top!

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So It Begins

Finally arrived in Zurich after an early start from Glasgow and several trains, planes and buses I met up with Robbie in his van to head up to the Swiss Ratikon. We stopped on the way to grab some supplies (Cherry harribo…obviously) for the next few days and headed up the sketchiest road I’ve ever been on up into the valley.

We set up camp by a lovely waterfall, it’s the perfect shower when your roasting from waking up in the tent, it’s been up to 38C here, mad!! There’s a local hut nearby where some other climbers are staying and on our first night we also met some awesome Germans that are here hiking who offered us some German beer and sausages, just to be the perfect stereotype. It’s also a reminder of how cool it is to be travelling and meeting so many new people that are all so friendly.

My first day on the wall

My first day on the wall

We started climbing yesterday on Robbie’s project route ‘silbergeir’. It’s this awesome multi-pitch route that’s goes straight up the headwall of the massive cliff. The wall is all limestone that varies in every direction with jagged blue streaks cascading down through the yellow rock faces. The routes max difficulty is 8b+ which of course, Is down to Robbie to climb but I’m really enjoying climbing the grade 7 pitches and starting to work on the 8a+ pitch. It’s all very technical moves on small holds where one little lack of balance and your off…there’s been a lot of that.

Robbie made some huge links on the hardest pitches yesterday it was awesome to watch him crushing out some crazy hard moves and I don’t doubt that after another session working the route today it could be time to get a well earn rest day before going for the red-point ascent later in the week.

Robbie working the top pitch

Robbie working the top pitch

Just being up there on that wall is amazing though, belaying from your little wooden swing, suspended hundreds of meters above the valleys grass fields with the high snow capped mountains as your backdrop and the cowbells from below as your soundtrack.

I’ll try to keep writing to update our progress but the signal strength out here is marginal at the bet of times!

Psyche!!