Fleischbank, "Via Classica"
Also posted at Summitpost here
Via Classica, 15 pitches, UIAA V (YDS 5.7/58)
The snow was melting and it was time to visit the Wilder Kaiser again. We hiked up Saturday morning in dubious weather. Interestingly, the rain gods let us get right to the base of the climb before celebrating in their malicious fury. We hiked back to the car dejected, and were home before 10 am.
Spring is fickle. Try again? Okay!
The next day looked completely different:
I think we can make the hike now. Leave the cold weather gear in the car.
Our plan was to climb the provocatively named Fleischbank (“meat bank” for the German-challenged). Does it resemble a slab of meat? Is it some kind of grim joke? Eventually I’ll learn the reason and report back here.
Our route seemed like a good warm up for the season: “Via Classica,” a fairly new climb that links 15 pitches to 5.7/5.8 up the northwest face. The climb appears a bit deflected, as it whiles away most of it’s time on the left wall of not one but two massive chimney/gully systems. The protection was easy: all fixed! Of course this takes away from the feeling of adventure, and I’m already longing (why?) for the runout faces on a yellow alien and a rusty piton. But we got in some great climbing this day. Here’s what happened:
8 am, I’m leading out from the snow moat where Daniel is tied to a bolt. Mid-5th class leads up then right to a belay. Another party is trudging up the snow. I wish we could simul-climb, but the double ropes would make it really awkward. Daniel leads out around a corner, then up to a belay out of sight. From this belay in a “Kessel” (German for a sort of cauldron or bowl, really nice word), I climbed behind a chockstone in a steep, solid chimney. Above, a 5.7 lieback move got my heart pumping. Later I saw the leader of the party behind us somehow walk around this, and felt silly.
[img:293789:aligncenter:medium:The first pitches]
Daniel headed up for the spectacular pitch 4. It would be his first 5.7 lead outside, something you are always bound to remember well! And it was a great pitch. I felt pretty insecure following on steep nubbins and smears during the transition from a corner crack across to another crack far on the right. Congratulations Daniel!
<img src="http://www.summitpost.org/images/original/293796.jpg" width=1024px>Dee Snider's head. Happily, we never got around to executing our plan to pull it across a nighttime highway on a rope when a car came along. At the time, just imagining the surprise a driver might feel to see the disembodied head of the lead singer of Twisted Sister floating across the road in their headlights caused me to giggle for 10 minutes at a time. Thank God I've found a more constructive use of my spare time! We've reached the first "escape band!" This broad ledge offers escape to the easier North Ridge route. But the sky was blue, and we had virgin territory ahead: we cannot be removed from our goal! We hiked about 50 meters up heather and scree to reach pitch 9. Whoa, interesting 5.7 slab climbing, then a run-out journey up ramps to a belay. Though all the protection pieces are bolts, they are definitely spaced in an alpine manner. In fact, on the last two pitches, you essentially had to solo 20 meters or more of 5.5 a couple of times. Either that or I was just passing by the bolts, something easy to do because they matched the color of the rock. How many times would one of us say "ah, there's a bolt!" Then a few seconds later "wait...wasn't there a bolt around here?" [img:293788:aligncenter:medium:Hello slabs...] [img:293791:aligncenter:medium:nice to see you!] [img:293785:aligncenter:medium:But now we are back in jail...] As this point, perhaps because we couldn't help but chat about the silly things we see at work, the party below caught up to us. Daniel carefully climbed his second 5.7 pitch up attractive steep ramps on the side of the Great Chimney. I chatted with the fellow and his girlfriend at the tiny belay stance. Pitch 11 was mine, and maybe the best or the 2nd best next to pitch 4: a 50 meter very sustained grade V (5.7/5.8) journey up a steep chimney then up to more exposed terrain. I was on the right side of the huge chimney, pinching flakes and smearing my feet on the wall for upward progress. It was a fantastic pitch. Here was my view of Daniel following, and you see the climbers behind us too: