On the spur of the moment, Stephan and I were able to get out for a day. Friday was expected to be nice until the late afternoon, then the weekend rains would start! I convinced him to make the long drive to the Burschlwand, which Adrian and I had really enjoyed a few weeks before. I liked the climbs there so much, I was at least as interested in repeating routes we’d done as doing new ones. Adrian and I did the last pitches of “Mon Cheri” (VII-) last time, and a good start seemed to be to do that whole line. At 8:45 am, Stephan was leading up the first pitch, nicely climbing through some crux (7-) moves on small holds. “This is really pumpy!” he said a couple of times. After running through the short pitch 2 as well, Stephan sent me off for pitch 3, which seemed to get harder as it went up. A vertical wall, I found the holds getting smaller and smaller until finally a committing leftward hand traverse escapes to the belay. What a steller pitch!

Like my previous trip to the Burschlwand, I found myself replaying the pitch in my mind. Despite the rather lackluster appearance of the cliff, almost every pitch offers creative moves.

Stephan lead pitch 4, graciously using the optional belay station mid-pitch to allow me to lead the top part. These two 30 meter pitches are often combined, but last time I enjoyed it so much on follow that I wanted a chance to lead some of it. It offered continually interesting face climbing, sometimes made easier by being able to grab a prominent edge on the left. Stephan took pitch 6 via a nice face climb that reached the top of the wall.

We came down and hung out in the shade near the car for a while drinking water and eating chocolate, which had already melted in the heat of the day. We’d taken about 3 hours for 6 pitches. “That’s pretty pathetic!” said Stephan. “I didn’t know we were racing,” I replied. My thought was that these were all tough pitches, it was our first climb together outside, and well…the day is long! Still, we resolved to see if we could speed up a bit.

Next we hiked back up to climb “Stenico,” again grade VII-. I got the easy first pitch, then Stephan climbed a surprisingly tough buttress that looked easy from below. “You should skip clips!” I said, or something to that affect. But once up there I was amazed how terrain that appeared lackluster from below turned into bulgy overhangs and vertical walls. “Good lead!” I said, then combined pitches 3 and 4. I ran out of steam at the crux moves on pitch 4 and had to rest a moment.

I’d tried to pass a slabby section to the left of protection, only to get into trouble trying to go up and traverse right on small features. After a rest I made it work, but watching Stephan later it appeared the better way was to avoid getting so far left as I had. This was a good pitch. Stephan continued up the slabby buttress to a belay below an overhang. Gulp!

Interesting moves sent me right below the overhang, then back left. I thought I should climb it on the left, but that didn’t work. After a rest I finally figured out that there is a decent incut hold right in the heart of the overhang that would allow me to reach high for a slabby palm with my left hand. That cracked it, then I wended my way slightly right and up on the crest of an outside corner, deciding to keep going through pitch 7 to the top. Stephan came up and we talked with some guys who’d been climbing HeSi on the right. What’s more they had established that route and others here! We thought about calling it a day, but with blue sky and hours of daylight left we couldn’t justify leaving work early! Besides, we’d climbed faster…that was 7 pitches in 2.5 hours.

Another scamper back to the base of the wall followed, and this time we drove into town for a sandwich. We hung out at the chapel fountain some more, eating, drinking and talking with some other climbers. Even though Adrian and I already climbed “Donna Delores” (6+), I wanted to do it again. Stephan agreed, and at 4:45 pm he was leading the first pitch. I was worried about pitch 2, which I found really hard a few weeks ago. Nervously asking Stephan to watch me closely, I took a big leftward step out from the belay to the highly chalked foothold that provides access to the wall. I went up and right to a hopeless rotten overhang, then tentatively traversed back left on slabby pinches until I could make the second clip. “Not out of the woods yet,” I thought. Straight up from here on small holds got the third clip, then I could relax a bit. I traversed right, then used a shallow seam to aid upward progress until finally the route exits to a belay on the left. Whew!

Now, Stephan would get the joy of leading my favorite pitch on the wall so far. Rated 6, it is nonetheless sustained and long, with several puzzles to solve as it climbs up and left on a broad wall. He did this very well, and was already raving about the quality as he reached the belay. I could only respond “I know, yeah?!” having fallen in love with the pitch a few weeks ago with Adrian. I had marred the lead by traversing too far left to another line that day, then engaging in a series of traverses and hijinks to get back on the line. Stephan made no such mistake, and even got some nice pictures of me showing the climbing sequence on different sections. The last pitch of the route proper was for me, and I had a great time slinking up the wall to an appointment with a yellow rotted-looking overhang that is escaped via a slabby jug on the left. Despite getting a hand on the jug, there is nothing helpful for feet, and it makes for an exciting end to an already-strenuous pitch. Stephan got pitch 5, an easy ridge that dovetails with the “Mon Cheri” route.

Sore, tender feet and fingers aside, it was an excellent climbing day. Thanks Stephan!

Pitch counts:

MC: 7-,5+,7-,6+,6 (we did 5 pitches in 4: 7-, 7-, 6+, 6)

S: 5,7-,1,7-,6-,7-,6- (we did 7 pitches in 5: 5, 7-, 7-, 6-, 7-)

DD: 6+,6+,6,6,5+ (we did as marked)

in YDS (helpful for my own comparisons. Difficult to translate the rating, I’ve added my own subjective thoughts):

MC: 5.10c, 5.8, 5.10c, 5.10b, 5.9

S: 5.7, 5.10b, 3rd class, 5,10c, 5.9, 5.10b, 5.9

DD: 5.10a, 5.10b, 5.10a, 5.9, 5.8