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Swiss Vacation in the Spirit of Sandstone Climbing Rules

29.3.2022

Two years ago, Jáchym was the first person to show me a photo of the Western face of Silberhorn. Back then, the mighty duo Schali and Siegrist made the first ascent of Silberrucken. Jáchym told me he would like to place some pro in the Alps, too, and he also said that apart from one classical route there is nothing else done in this wall. I waited until August 2021 to get the answer to a question why.

The three of us – Jáchym Srb (the expedition leader and load bearer), Matěj Svojtka (social media manager, drone pilot) and me (no official function assigned by the expedition leader) – set off towards Interlaken. I didn’t have any clue about why people don’t drill there until we got there. You see, the path to the bivouac is pretty steep. Well, whatever, I take my headphones and listen to some rap music and within 8 hours we are up there.

Hard onset and rap in headphones

It took us a while to establish where the route should lead. In the photos the wall didn’t look that overhanging and hard to get through – another clue for me. Eventually, we chose the direction by drawing the lots with a rock in a hand.

On the first day we feel like champions, we drill 3 pitches and, in the meantime, Jáchym returns for the gear we left on our way. He’s a true leader. He makes this trip (1800 m up and 1800 m down) four times. During the following days we are stopped by weather and worsening quality of the rock. It’s pretty similar to Srbáč, where, however, microwave ovens are falling instead of little rocks. We spend our days by freezing in the wall or by playing poker in the bivouac, the place where the oat flake madness began. We gradually start running out of food, so we must stuff ourselves with oat flakes. No stunner, really...

On the ninth day the oat flake madness culminates, the wall is still wet, and we still have two more pitches to go. We pin our hopes on the last day. Cold again, but sunny! We quickly jumar over the frozen fixed pro and then we just go for it. Jáša gets through the probably last difficult place on the wall, and then we switch places (as I don't want to freeze on the belay station) I move to the front, and we finally manage to get to the vertical finish. Our champion Matějko leads us through a sunlit pitch to the summit and the new „Oat Flake Madness“ route is born.

The overhang of the wall surprised us


The technical specification of our first ascent:

Style: We accessed the wall from below, i.e., in the spirit of sandstone climbing rules. Bolts were inserted either from the climbing position or using skyhooks. Climbing from the belay stations was similar as in Labák. Two anchors were used for setting up the belay stations.

Rope technique: Because of the difficulty of ascent, we applied single rope technique (more specifically, we used the Master Pro 9.7 rope – it endures a lot and the bigger diameter of a single rope, the better) and a 6 mm reep cord. The lead climber thus climbs on a single rope, using the reep cord to pull up the drill or other material from the belay station. After setting up the belay station he uses a reep cord to pull up the haulbag and then he can use the reep cord for abseiling with a single rope. The result is much better handling than with double ropes, and also a lower weight. We used fixed rope to access the pitches that we have already finished. We abseiled down on it and the next day we jumared where we had left the day before.

Because of the weather and consequent lack of time we didn’t do the RP climb, so here is just the estimated grade of the individual pitches: 4, 7a+, 6c, 7a, 7c+, 7c, 7c, 7b+, 6 – in total this makes about 270m of length. We’ll come back soon!

Text: Ondra Tůma


Master PRO 9.7 was a clear choice

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