Switzerland Alpine Cragging

After climbing Deep Blue Sea on the Eiger we felt pretty pleased, but we still had almost two weeks of Swiss alpine cragging exploration left of our trip! Armed with the Plasier Extrem guidebooks and some recommendations from Sophie Whyte this what we got up to:

Friendly noisy cows!

Getting the coffee on for another alpine start

Hintisberg


We actually climbed here before getting on the Eiger. Spectacularly positioned above Grindelwald the four pitch routes allowed us to practise our tag-line bag hauling and abseil system and remind us not to forget a GriGri!

Hintisberg cragging


We climbed the route Todi a fully bolted (6a+,7a,6b,7a), the first 7a pitch had one particularly hard move. Even though the crag is at 2000m it was still baking hot in the afternoon. It's possible to drive up very close to the crag on an amazing private route (10 CHF), the ascent up to 1600m on tight switchbacks was tough for my poor van (2nd gear for 30min!) and the descent down the next day was tough on the brakes; we had to stop a couple of times to let the pads cool down after total brake fade! However, it was worth the drive for the amazing van bivi spot overlooking the Eiger. That evening after climbing on Hintisberg we sat outside the van sipping red wine and watching the legendary Eiger North face turn golden red in the evening alpine glow as we made plans to get on Deep Blue Sea as soon as we had a half-decent weather forecast. See my Deep Blue Sea post.



Teufelstalwand


After getting down from the Eiger we where keen to climb some granite. As recommended by Sophie we headed over to Andermatt and climbed Alpentraum (6a,6c,6b,6a,7a,6c+,5c,6c,5a) 10 pitches of very well bolted granite cracks. This route was fantastic, a super fun day out. The route is relatively easily to access; a casual 20min filp-flop down a trail from the parking then three abseils got us at the bottom of the route which starts in a gorge. After topping out a few fixed lines and a trail can be followed for about 20min back to the parking.


Granite cracks!

More granite




Salbit


From Teufelstalwand you can’t help but notice the amazing looking granite spires high on the skyline, these high spires and ridges make up the Salbit range, a legendary Swiss granite climbing area. After enjoying the granite climbing in Teufelstalwand we were keen for more of the same. The next day we walked up to the Salbit hut where we had reserved a two-night stay, a mini break from our holiday! The Salbit hut was amazing, small, cosy and welcoming.

Salbit Hut

Cosy beds


After a steep and sweaty 3 hr walk up a cold beer on a sunny granite terrace went down a treat! The next day we climbed GKB 7 pitches (6a,6b,6a,6a+,7a,5c+,6a+) of granite slabs and layback faces, but mainly slabs...run out slabs! While runout slabs are maybe not my favourite climbing style the quality of the rock and the amazing position made for an enjoyable outing. We took some extra cams and nuts which occasionally came in useful to try and take the edge off  the run outs! The route topped out onto an amazing ridge.


Amazing suspension bridge saving us from an even longer walkin!

Jon 'styling' on the final pitch of GKB

Summit ridge of GKB





The next day with a variable weather forecast we climbed Leviathan (5c+,6a,6b+,6b,5c) before the long walk down and drive over to Voralpsee.

Granite crack on Leviathan 6b+



Voralpsee


I had first heard of Voralpsee as part of the James Pearson and Gaz Parry ‘climb an 8a a day’ in a different European country road trip. Voralpsee was the chosen crag in Switzerland where they climbed the Alaskan Kid 8a. The video footage of the crag looked incredible, a smooth, steep and slightly overhanging white limestone wall. The video of Jonathan Siegrist climbing Speed Intégrale 9a on the crag shows how much of an ultimate test of power ensure this crag is! The crag did not disappoint, unfortunately with only one afternoon’s climbing I came very close but did not quite manage to tick Alaskan Kid. However, the red-point process of memorising so many technical moves in a row was highly enjoyable. One the come back to!


Stunning Voralpsee wall


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