Friday, April 22, 2011

Eiger North Face

Yesterday myself and Jon Griffith climbed the 38 route on the Eiger. It was great to finally get this done. There've been several times over the last couple years when its been "in", but I’ve always been busy or occupied by other climbing plans over here in Cham.
       However, this time i was starting to feel left out, so we drove over Wednesday evening slept at the Eigerglestcher that night and climbed on Friday.
    In many ways the route was very different to what I’d always expected. Most notably, the quality of the climbing was actually better. Although you hear horror stories about lose rock on the face, apart from the brittle ledges its all pretty solid due to so many ascents. Moves are also very straight forward due to so much cleaning and scratch marks. As for gear, there are belays and pegs everywhere, 60% of which are of course extremely poor and most belays want backing up.
       We made decent progress climbing the route in about 11.40 and managed the round trip in under 14 hours. At first we intended to really go for it and put in a fastish time (as this seems to be the fashionable thing to do on this face), but when we caught up with our friends Adam and Caroline on the ramp, we relaxed a fair bit and made a pretty casual ascent with good banter for most of the rest of the way.
       Best pitch is the waterfall pitch, and best position is the last 3 metres of the Traverse of the Gods.
         As for times, Ueli's and now Dani Arnold's records are mind-boggling. I think with a decent track and good conditions one day ascents will soon become normal. And i can completely see how it could be shaved to the 7-8 hour time bracket for a non-onsite ascent.
  Brilliant route, brilliant history and on a great mountain. Get on it before it melts in a week's time!!

Here's some shots:

Chossy pitch before the Death Bivi.


Waterfall pitch.

Another view of Jon and myself on the waterfall pitch. Credit: Caroline George.

Waterfall pitch.

Above the Brittle crack.
Quartz crack.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Leverogne movie

Here's a little film of some of the days bolt-clipping through in Italy recently with Carl.

Carl Granlund is climbing "Vampirella" 8a from Bjarne Sahlen on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The best laid plans of mice and men.

It was perfect. 5 days of beautiful weather forecasted. Food stashed in the necessary corners of the range. It was going to be an epic few days linking, what ever happened.
        Then on my way down the Valley Blanche early this morning, carrying a heavy bag of food and water to stash at the Leshaux, i managed to cross my approach ski's going far too fast over some icy moguls. A couple seconds later i was disorientated on the floor with blood dripping down my face and a lip inflating like an airbag. I've had concussion a number of times before, so shortly after i picked my self up, i knew i had about 40 mins before i would start throwing up and not seeing the difference between a crevasse and boot-track. I put my skis on my back and started booting as fast as i could up to the Midi, i had just passed the Gross Rognon when i fell so had a fair way to go.
       A guide or two stopped as i neared the midi, seeing the blood dripping from my face and my disorientated-wobbly walk, they offered what services they could, but i opted to carry on, almost running at one point as i raced the concussion-clock. Sure enough, as soon as i entered the ice tunnel of the Midi i couldn't hold it off any more and started violent dry and wet retching.
            I somehow made it to Sallanche hospital thanks to some helpful lifties. After a trip through a Cat-scan, lots of jelly on my face and more dry retching they let me out.
I really need a haircut as well.

 So there we go, not what i had planned. The idea of sun touching my face for the next week or so is unbearable. Its a bit upsetting to miss this weather and the great plan we had for it, but i guess it will make me get on with AK organizing instead.

I do however, stand by the fact that 130cm approach skis are cool......

Monday, April 4, 2011

Changing seasons.

Last week i spent 7 days working in Austria doing various rigging jobs on the climbing section of next year's "Cotswolds" catalogue. Long days and some weather-induced stress made for a challenging week. But it was great fun, and i always learn a lot from this work. The highlight for me was definitely working on the summit of the Kitsteinhorn (3200m) at sunset with glowing bronze summits i knew little about surrounding me, followed by a 1500 meter ski descent down the best freshly groomed piste i've ever skied, late at night.

On returning to Cham, it seems that the already warm winter has definitely turned in to summer, seemingly missing out the whole Spring period (or maybe its just been spring since January?).
        I've had a couple brilliant days out in amongst some other work with good people, on good rock, although my glove-soft fingers have been getting a trashing.

I've been to a small but perfect crag through in Italy called Leverogne twice with the Swedish crew. Climbing mainly with Carl Granlund, a super strong sport climber working his way through the best 8A's of the Haute Savoie. I gave him 6 belays on his project the last time we were there and he was getting tantalizingly close.
Carl and his project.

Today i've been at the always-brilliant crag Gietroz, just over the Swiss border with Adam George. A little hot but great fun in the sun nonetheless.


Adam crushing in his one afternoon off amongst weeks of ski-tour guiding.

Weather's a bit naff tomorow, then a nice window is coming through. Hmmmmm, maybe the mountains are calling?