Archive for the ‘Traditional climbing’ Category

Brunkensen – Crash test at the Helleberg

Montag, Juni 16th, 2008

We had just one day for a climbing trip this weekend, so we checked out another area in Brunkensen, near Alfeld, roughly 35 km away from my place. The weather had been alright whilst cycling there, but as soon as we arrived it started raining. Fortunately, it were just a few intermittent showers, and we started off on a 6- (5.8) sport route to warm up. The rock was a tad wet and slippery in the lower regions, but it got better the further up you went. Rikta toproped that route too and the tried a 3+ on the same anchor, which she had considered doing on the lead – but after having a few minor difficulties she decided against it under those weather conditions.

Getting into the Abendweg

We continued with another easy route, this time a 4 (5.5) trad route, and Rikita did this one and another one of the same difficulty in toprope. I wanted to do something a tad more difficult – and this particular rock offered two 7 (5.10c) trad routes. On the first one, I couldn’t even get into the route, it starts off with a little roof, and I couldn’t find a good hold after the first two or three moves. After trying several approaches, I got frustrated and went on to the next one. This one had an easier start, which it shared with another easier route (6-/ 5.8) from which it diverged in about 5 meters height. I placed the last piece of protection there with a sling extension, in order to get a decent rope line. I managed to place another piece on the other route, but was stopped there as I couldn’t figure out one move as there were no holds whatsoever. By that time I was really frustrated and after several unsuccessful attempts I resolved to abort and return to the easier route and finish that one. I place one more piece of protection, but did that somewhat fitfully and tried to proceed – and came to a part which wasn’t that obvious, so my first attempt didn’t work exactly – being wound up from all the other frustrating experiences already, I resolved to take a chance and just scramble up there using friction. Next thing I know is me falling and Rikita screaming and the ground coming awfully close. I heard two distinct „pings“ of protection popping out and smashed onto a ledge before one good piece of protection stopped my fall about a meter above the ground.

Placing protection (Abendweg)

Well, apart from some bruises on my left upper thigh and ellbow, as well as on my ribcage nothing untoward happened. After a cigarette break to calm down I went up there again and this time I placed a decent piece of protection, but somehow I had lost my confidence. So in the end Rikita went up the rock from the other side and put in a toprope, as I didn’t want to take any more chances. I was really annoyed went I went past that point really easily in toprope – all I had needed to do was assess the options calmly instead of¬† letting my frustration dictate my actions and take unnecessary chances. After getting up that route, I went back to the point where I had been stopped cold by the 7, but I had neither the concentration nor the shape to get over that point, so I came down again. Rikta mangaged the 6- in toprope too, although she needed the support of the rope on the crux.

By now the adrenalin had worn off and the pain kicked in – when belaying Rikita the pressure from the harness was starting to really hurt. So we cycled back, and not a moment too soon, as we got drenched on the second half of the journey.

Well, it was a good afternoon after all – I note it as a learning experience, which will certainly make me more cautious in future, making sure that all the pieces of protection I place will hold a fall, even on easy routes. At least for the next few weeks, I will have palpable reminders of why I have to do that ūüėČ

Ith – Second climbing weekend

Montag, Juni 2nd, 2008

Heinrich, Sigrid and her son Jonas joined us this weekend at the Ith. We arrived on Friday in the early evening, and although we had scheduled a BBQ for the evening, we obviously couldn’t wait to get to the rocks. We climbed a few easy routes at the Hexenkanzel to give Heinrich and Sigrid a first impression of the feel of that rock, until it was getting dark and we headed back to get our well-earned steaks in the end. Although it was quite late until we finally managed to sleep, we nevertheless agreed for a early start the next day. The camping place had been astonishingly empty when we first arrived, but I had the distinct feeling that this was about to change on Saturday.

Since Sigrid and Rikita needed a bit more time to get ready in the morning, Heinrich and I went ahead to lead a few routes, so that they could climb them in Toprope afterwards. The early hour procured empty rocks on usually beleaguered rocks like the Teufelstrichter. After climbing a few nice routes there, we went on to the Breite Wand, as it was getting fuller by the minute. There I managed a couple of nice routes, one called Kir Royal (Trad, 6 (5.8/5.9)) and another called Pernod-Dach (Sport, 1 bolt, 6+ (5.9/5.10a). Again, Heinrich was afflicted by his muscular problems, which wasn’t remedied by taping, so he passed on that roof problem and only Sigrid and Rikita attempted it – Sigrid came close in toprope, but didn’t quite manage the crux sequence, whereas Rikita didn’t even get to that, since the move before that puts you in an really awkward body position, which bugged her that much that she had to jump off in the end.

Rikita at the Pernod-Dach

Then we marched on to the Kamel, which has a nice face climbing route that goes on for almost 30 meters on its west face – which is of course beleaguered at all times. Since it was afternoon already and it was getting hotter, we decided to go back to the camping place and eat instead, rest a while and return in the evening, although it wasn’t quite as hot as it had been forecasted. The camping place was packed when we returned, as I had suspected, most of the climbers had arrived on Saturday morning.

After a hearty pasta meal and a bit of rest we went to the rocks furthest away from the camping place, in order to work our way back to the tents from there. Unfortunately, most of the really intersting rocks like the Zwilling were still too full, so that we ended up at the NW-Buchenschluchtfelsen. Heinrich started off with a route, which was at least on the lead really quite harsh in the last bit, as you have a rather claustrophobic crack, where you have to jam your body in, since it isn’t easy to protect in the end.¬† We did one more route there and went on to the next rocks, ending up at the Mittagsfelsen, where Heinrich managed to climb one last route, before the onset of rain forced us to return to the camping place earlier than planned.

Heinrich in action (not sure which route)

Unfortunately, the rain was there to stay, so we went to sleep early and decided for an really early start the next morning (the plan was to get up at 5:30) in order to avoid the masses – but a short look around at this hour showed us that it was definitely still too wet, and we went back to sleep again. The rocks were still quite wet, when Heinrich and I went off at around ninenish, but at least we had the opportunity to climb some nice trad and sport routes at the Wilhelm-Raabe-Klippe (which were of course a little bit more difficult under those conditions), with only a few nice climbers present, whom we had met the day before at the Teufelstrichter already. The ladies went to the Probierstein instead, which is ideal for beginners and kids, so that Jonas could climb a little bit too and there you can put in topropes from above.

Jonas at the Probierstein

Eventually we met up with them at the Kamel, where we finally could climb the West-Kante route after half an hour of waiting. The route itself was fairly easy until shortly before its end, where I just muscled my way through an unclear passage, which promoted a fair amount of adrenalin not only for me, but also Rikita, who had found a vantage point about half way up to take some photos (where you can walk up from the other side) – in addition I was quite angry with someone who had just carelessly thrown another rope from the adjacent anchor for rapelling down – but just letting in hang there right where I wanted to climb (I gave the chap an earful when I finally got up). After my experience there I dissuaded Heinrich from trying the route on the lead with his injury, but neither he nor the girls had any problems toproping it.

On the lead on the West-Kante of the Kamel

It was much too full and noisy at the Kamel (there were two youth groups there), so we headed on for the next rocks and ended up at the Mittagsfelsen again, where Heinrich went up a crack route that was still really wet and didn’t look particularly inviting, so I didn’t do that one, but rather the one he had done the day before when it started raining as the final route, as it was time to head back to the camping place and pack our stuff – apart from that my energy level had dropped significantly already, and that was definitely not just because of the now palpable feeling of hunger.

Sigrid getting into the West-Kante of the Kamel

The fact that I still do feel quite done in today seems to indicate that we did quite a lot (I think I did about 15 routes on the lead). I think we were all more or less quite happy with the weekend, even if not everything went according to plan – I for one had planned to attempt two slightly more involved routes, one 7+ (5.10d/5.11a) sport route and a 7- (5.10b) trad route at the Krokodil – but that didn’t materialize. However, I am pretty sure that Rikita and me will return there pretty soon, and perhaps Heinrich, Sigrid and Jonas also again sometimes.

Ith – First time

Montag, Mai 19th, 2008

We had planned a three day weekend at the Ith, but unfortunately the weather on Saturday was so bad, that it became a two day trip instead. So we arrived on Sunday, after a rough cycling tour, which started anything but auspicious, since Rikita had a sore throat and considered turning around half way. Fortunately she changed her mind and we arrived at lunchtime on the Ith camping place that is owned by the DAV.

From that camping place you walk like 5 or 10 minutes to the first rocks, which are all very well marked and lined up by nature for an easy scoop. There are quite a few interesting sport routes, but we focused on trad routes, first of all, because the grades Rikita can climb in at present fall more into that category¬† and secondly, because we both need the exercise to get the necessary routine. Still Rikita didn’t trust her protection enough to go on the lead, but placed protection when going up in toprope.

Me at the Torkopf Ost-Riß

Rikita at the Torkopf Ost-Riß

This was our first experience with limestone, which is different from all the other rock we have climbed thus far, as it was very smooth, almost polished and at least at the routes we ventured on, with a plethora of holds. Most of the routes we did were between 20 and 25 meters and were fairly good for placing protection, although we could have done with a bit more gear.

Rikita rappelling down

Me at the Pieksriß of the Teufelstrichter

We climbed 5 routes on Sunday, one of which had two bolts in the lower part (the Pieksriß in the photo above) and 3 today Рthen we had to head back again.

Well, all in all this was a great first taste of that fabulous area, where we will almost certainly spent many a happy hour in the foreseeable future. I think for the time being we will focus on trad routes, in order to hone our newly acquired skills.

Considering that this was our first visit there, we both did well, while for me it was more or less an exercise in climbing trad on the lead, Rikita did very well climbing routes close to her limit (one 6- and possibly a 6 (unclear because of mismatched topos) (5.8)).

Well, I can’t wait to go there again…

Bodensteiner Klippen – without a net

Sonntag, Mai 4th, 2008

Great weather yesterday, so we cycled towards the Bodensteiner Klippen. The fruits of our last journeys seem to show now, since we managed to get there much faster and with greater ease than before.

For warming up we returned to the West-Wand of the Hauptturm, which we had climbed already on our previous visit. However, this time I applied my newly acquired skills and placed extra protection. Rikita did the route in toprope, but place some additional gear nevertheless to practice.

Then we looked for ages for a suitable route – the problem being, that the available sport routes are more or less all slightly above the grades Rikita currently feels comfortable with. So in the end I decided to try traditional routes instead. For starters we climbed an easy 4 (5.4) at the Mittelturm, which was easy to climb and place protection. In the beginning I could even place a sling and the following protections I placed I managed well enough to feel safe.

 Me at the Rißverschneidung-Route of the Mittelturm

Rikita climbed this one and the following ones in toprope, but again placed protection for practice, as she does not trust her skills enough yet to try it on the lead. Maybe next time.

 Rikita at the Rißverschneidung-route of the Mittelturm

The next route (Nord-Riß of the Mittelturm, 4+(5.5)) was even better to place protection and now it started to be fun.

 Crack climbing at the Northern Crack of the Mittelturm

After a short break we tried a third route (Rechte Nord-Verschneidung, 4+(5.5)), where I placed ample protection but then ran into unexpected difficulties, when trying to get to the anchor. I almost had to test my protection for the first time, but then managed to finish the route with a bit of traversing. Of course just then an audience in the shape of several boulderers appeared, who then felt obliged to ask whether we are beginners, which Rikita somewhat ticked off denied (the fact that we were wearing helmets (Daniel would have been proud of us) and my unusual exit moves might have led to that conclusion).

All in all a fab climbing day, and the fact that I could place protection I could easily trust, opens a plethora of routes for the future, especially in this particular region – where most easier routes aren’t sport routes. For Rikita it might take a little more time, before she feels that trust – but I am sure that constant practice will yield that result eventually.

Harz – Okertal

Montag, April 28th, 2008

Finally, the weekend of the trad climbing course was there. We went to the camping place right up the Okertal by bike on Friday. It was an ok trip, only a few showers of rain and hail but we managed to get there and set up the tent without any problems.

Most of the group arrived quite late, only one guy was there before the others, so we had time to chat and get acquainted. When the others eventually came, we made our introductions and got the details of the schedule for the following days, before we went to sleep.

The temperatures dropped quite a bit during the night and Rikita learned that her sleeping bag wasn’t up to the challenge the hard way – we swapped on the following night, and I could only agree with her judgement there, it was definitely not warm enough for those weather conditions. However, we were lucky enough to find excellent weather and climbing conditions for both Saturday and Sunday during daytime.

On Saturday we got introduced to all the different pieces of equipment, friends, nuts, tri cams, hexentrics and whatnot.

Initially it was quite frustrating to place the gear, only to find out that we didn’t do it right. However, in the afternoon we did some technical climbing with the gear we placed and there we could feel some progress, as all but one of the pieces we had placed was holding to carry our body weight. We climbed a few easy routes in toperope afterwards.

Our first taste of technical climbing, to get a feel for how good the gear really holds…

On Sunday we went to the „Marienwand“ in the Okertal. While we were doing some more exercises, our coach Daniel brought up some ropes and we were supposed to get up those routes later and place some additional gear whilst still having the safety of the toprope. In the end we did one easy route on the lead, but again used mostly the gear Daniel had brought up.

Rikita climbing at the Marienwand

Nevertheless it was a very interesting and nice weekend and I feel we learned a lot – now it is just a question of applying those skills in the future and maybe trying to place additional gear on sport routes that aren’t sufficiently secured as well as practicing on easy trad routes where there isn’t any realy danger if any of our gear won’t hold until we feel that we are really able to trust what we place there. We both enjoyed climbing in real rock and although the routes we did were quite easy, climbing one for instance that was close to 30 meters was quite exhilarating.

We agreed to inform other participants of the course when we will venture out to real rock in the future, so that others can join in – for one thing became very obvious, we don’t really have enough gear for long routes and looking at our slim budget currently, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

Altogether a great experience with many nice people and we got a lot out of it. I could add the first route to my trad table, but since I didn’t place all gear myself though climbing on the lead, I will desist. But I am pretty sure there will be the first entry there very soon…