Tuesday, June 7

Swiss Update

My list of must-do routes is growing every day. Each new climber I meet and share a belay with has a new burning recommendation for me. Projects, forgotten zones, popular cliffs, hidden gems. I knew that Switzerland had an underrated sport climbing scene but I'm downright baffled by how much stone there is packed into this tiny country.

.... Zurich.... Lauderbrunnen. photos from Colette. 

Unfortunately the weather has been nothing short of horrible as of late. For the most part the last two weeks was too wet, although visiting climber and videographer Colette McInerney and I made the very best of it, damn it. It gave us a chance to see some of the lesser known spots and also to spend hours studying weather forecasts. Regardless we had a great time together doing a video piece for EpicTV and touring around the Alps a bit. 

Since I left Voralp about three and a half weeks ago I've been climbing on every sunny day - which were depressingly few. I did get some routes finished though, some of my favorites actually. After a visit to a ultra powerful, slippery, radical 8c rig called 'Appel au Sodom' I was in better condition for my first big mission. It was an unrepeated power-endurance test piece at a stunning crag, Gimmelwald. 'Jungfrau Marathon' 9a, is a battle route. Twenty meters longs, only one poor rest, punching from the start to finish. I got lucky on this one and pulled off a send only a day before it dumped snow and drenched the cliff. Keep eyes peeled for a video on this brilliant route!

Gimmel Express... is very wet... but I still try. Over-stoker? Colette photo. 
Daniel Hulliger photo of Goldfinger.

'Goldfinger' 8c is one of the few routes at Gimmel that remains dry even in the worst of conditions. A savage, lurpy boulder problem sandwiched between grade 7 climbing, this is not my favorite route but dry rock is dry rock! As the clouds descended on the mountain we changed locations. An hour long drive through pure moisture and dense clouds left me less than hopeful we would find anything worth our time. Pleasantly surprised we arrived in Engelberg at a dry and beautiful green-side (on a golf course) cliff named Shlanggen. Colette could sense my boy-like excitement erupting from a seemingly assured defeat, and, in complete over-stoker fashion I tried to warm up with an 8b+ onsight which was less than ideal. I took it down a notch, but I did do 'Termilater' 8b+ and the bouldery, hard, 'Schwarzes Glas' 8b+ by the end of the day. My stoke was well renewed. 

Colette McInerney photo of 'Termilater' 

Colette McInerney climbs on the powerful 'Femme Rouge' at Gimmelwald in less than ideal conditions

Unfortunately from here on the weather continued to shit on us. Stubborn and perhaps too optimistic I forced Colette to continue making the muddy slog up to Gimmelwald, only to find that nothing had dried. And then again... and then again. Finally I got the memo and after several days of rest I changed my aim to Valais, a valley south of Interlaken and a place rumored to always have sun. The two and a half hour drive to Rawyl was like a slow climb out of a steamy bathhouse and onto a sunny beach. I found rock just dry enough to climb and my skin was once again met with the golden warmth of the sun! 'Cabane au Canada' 9a is a route that I've wanted to try for years. Pictures showed this perfect banded limestone, overhanging and featured. This time, despite my complete mind boggling over-stokedness, I warmed up properly and then jumped on the rig. Tension climbing on amazing sculpted crimps, long poppy movements, rests throughout, with a heart breaker crux at the very very top. Borderline perfect route. Pumpy. Awesome. I did the route yesterday but only after waiting out some pretty damn warm temperatures. Funny how quickly the tables can turn. 

Rest day in the sun here in Interlaken! Wishing I had shorts on. The Swiss way: if it's nice out you go outside, period. Definitely helping me appreciate clear skies. Cheers everyone.