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.
‘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!)
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.
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.