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 my winter season being called to an early and unexpected end due to an injured ankle I’ve spent the last few weeks of ‘good’ weather getting out to local crags and pulling on some dry rock,getting ready for the upcoming trad season. Last year I’d been convinced to give ‘Surface Tension’ at Auchinstarry Quarry a go on a top-rope to try out the moves. The routes an awesome line that takes the blank wall above the water at the back of the quarry. On my first attempt I quickly realised the route was extremely sequence-y and decided to leave it for another day when I could try all the moves over on a shunt on my own.
My recent attempts have been solo trips to the crag running the tricky sequence and balance-y moves of the route over and over until eventually on my last trip I’d managed it clean (no falling from bottom to top) and started to feel confident with my chances on the lead.
The tricky part about the test pieces at Auchinstarry is not just that they are technically difficult but also that they tend to present a serious aspect of danger due to the lack of protection, most featuring marginal, next to nothing placements or none at all. Like ‘Nijinski’ (E5, 6a) That I’d climbed previously last year, ‘Surface Tension’ has serious moves that are well above the doubtful gear, that most probably come under the category of ‘bodyweight placements’, However it comes with the added bonus of falling into water rather than decking out onto hard ground…
My serious, deep seas diving goggles… (many thanks to Zuzu for the last-minute ‘save’)
Today The weather was cracking and I’d decided to take my wetsuit down to have a go at clearing away some of the debris and objects that have been thrown over the cliff edge and sit under the surface of the water, waiting to impale a falling climber that has been ejected from one of the routes above. With the water being freezing and only have a comically small pair of pink goggles that were borrowed from a friend last-minute, we rushed through the job clearing out deck chairs, “danger, rock fall” signs, wheelbarrows and logs.There was no excuses now, the lead was inevitable.
pulling hard on small crimps
I could write a long paragraph here to take you through terrifying lead but I fear I’d do it no justice. Here’s a short video from Finalcrux Films that shows the day in full.
Many thanks to both Euan and David for their support and for convincing me to go for it!