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
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
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!
With the days counting down until I go away to the Alps I’ve been trying to rack up as many hours as possible at work leaving with hardly any free days until I go away. Working chaotic hours almost everyday might sound like a restriction to my climbing but I often find at times like these it motivates me to train more. Finishing shifts in the centre before closing time leaves me with no excuse not to have a session afterwards as I’m already there with little else to do and its easy to be motivated when you’ve been watching others climb all day so even squeezing in an hours fingerboard session between shifts doesn’t feel like a chore when your blowing off steam from the previous shift. With the dramatic change in the weather over the last few days I’ve been jumping at any opportunity to take my training from the fingerboard onto real rock (It is Scotland, it could be raining again tomorrow!)
Today we woke early to try and get the most out of a morning session in the sun before starting work at midday so we headed to the local sport crag Dumbuck. Being notorious For its short, yet aggressively steep routes I was interested to see how my recent level of training would pay off here.
Finding the crag was nothing short of a total mission. The guidebooks approach description say something along the lines of ‘though some fields and up to the crag through the trees’. When in reality it it should say, cross the tick infested fields down the hill to where you will have to battle your way through the overgrown jungle, up the steep mud and scree slope where you will randomly stumble upon some ropes that climb up to the crag…..In other words, we got lost because of Euans fantastic guiding skills!!
Neither of us having been to the crag before we spent the day attempting the ‘must do’ route of ‘Awaken’ 7c+. We both struggled to work out the final few moves through the crux on our first few goes and as time (and skin) started to run out there was some frustration when we finally cracked the crux later in the day only to not have enough energy for a serious redpoint after all the previous attempts. After some serious moaning about skin condition and dehydration We pulled the rope and agreed to come back for the tick another day.
Satisfied with a good session I agreed to go up to get the draws back before leaving, I tied in again and before I knew it I was topping out the route. Clean. No falls…talk about a last minute effort! The psyche was high from the tick after all the demoralising efforts earlier and it was great to walk away with such a high grade having only had just one session working at it, I guess it proves this training malarkey does pay off eh!?