Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Paradise Found!

The weather in the Dolomites was far from perfect. We bailed to the Zillertal after Bellavista and continued to chase dry rock, often unsuccessfully. Robbie managed some good quick sends and I struggled with the vertical reachy nature of a lot of the routes. I was keen to move on to our next objective, which was a multi-pitch on the north face of the Eiger, although all the reports I had heard indicated a pile of snow on the summit and water running down the faces. Conditions were not good and didn’t look like improving during our time in Europe. A decision needed to be made about where to climb for our remaining time.

Instead of chasing good weather to climb a hard multi-pitch we headed to Frankenjura where it is possible to climb on the short overhung pocketed routes even in the rain.  It was a great decision. The Frankenjura is a place I had always wanted to visit. It is a historic location with classic lines developed by the old masters of the sport. (Kurt Albert, Wolfgang Gullich, Jerry Moffat, John Bachar, Kim Carrigan etc.).

The short, often less than 15m, powerful, pocketed, steep walls reminded me of years spent on the Rockface 45 degree wall in Perth as well as projecting routes like Spatula Man, my first 26 at Bobs hollow. I loved the style and it immediately showed with quick ascents of 10- (8a+) and 10 (8b) grade routes.  I felt a bit bad for Robbie, as he was the opposite of me. We had left Zillertal where I struggled to climb 8a but he had quick ascents of routes up to 8b+. In the Frankenjura he suddenly had to work a lot harder. He still managed a few 8a+ routes but you could tell the style was something he was not used to.  It is amazing how much your climbing style can affect how effective you are in different climbing areas.
Lots of randomly shaped boulders pop out of the forest! Me on an 8a at Endorama.
Brian and Gesa dropped by for a visit. I led them on a mission to a less visited dank crag in the forest. Sorry! 
Gesa making the most out of our poor crag choice.
Max from the UK warming up on a route near Sautanz, the first 7b+ which we later did. 
On one of Pauls visits he did this first climb of the first day. A nightmare on Nightmare (8b).
Robbie eventually headed back to reality in Scotland and I stayed on meeting new friends to climb with as well as climbing with Paul Steinig who I had met previously in Zillertal.  It had been raining most days but hadn’t affected us under overhangs in the forest. In the last week the weather finally cleared up and the sun came out which was a disaster. All the moisture trapped in the forest started to evaporate causing a massive rise in humidity. The cold rock and warm humid air meant that condensation covered many of the crags. The unlucky run of weather had caught up with me, and two hard projects I was excruciatingly close to will have to wait for my return.
From right, Sam (USA), Paul (Chile), Andrew (AUS) and myself enjoying Marthas cake.
Now I will head to Yosemite for another completely different style of climbing. Hopefully a change of continent will provide better weather!

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