Lane, a friend of Wayne’s on sabbatical in Europe, and very keen to go climbing, came by for a couple days. It was great to meet him and chat about climbs we have in common, restaurants, old friends. We headed out Friday morning to climb the Kleine Trichter, a classic route on the West Face of the Hoher Göll. It was a new area for me, though I’d long been told how cool this mountain was by Hannes.
We got there early and hiked up on rather wet asphalt. We arrived at a rather wet wall. But we had a good forecast, maybe the sun will burn the water away. Happily the first pitches were at an easy grade, and even soaking wet I thought we’d pull through okay. Even from the base we could see that the crux wouldn’t necessarily be the grade VII+ or A0 traverse on pitch 12, but sustained grade V+/VI- on pitches 7 and 8, which appeared to go right through a constriction that even far below we could see acted as a water funnel.
Due to an imposing moat we started 30 meters to the right, traversing into the route one pitch up. Pitches of decent rock followed. I especially enjoyed the grade IV pitch 3, and the IV- pitch 5. With rough rock and good holds, the wetness just added a bit of spice. But I got shut down hard halfway up pitch 7. Lane belayed carefully below, as I reluctantly committed to soaking wet footholds to get on the right side of a small overhang. From a little pillar, I needed to go up and back left, continually on wet ground. Although the feet were on rough-hewn rock, they were pretty much running with water, and the handholds suddenly faced down and were even slimy.
I fiddled for some protection, placing a micro-Alien that I had little faith in. I alternated between trying out different sequences and planning to go down. Finally, strangely, I committed to the moves and with my heart in my throat executed a sequence marked by a torqued foot jam and holds so marginal and wet that I couldn’t breathe. I made it onto a pillar with one dry foothold and one dry handhold, surrounded by dripping water. I saw ridiculous ground above, and a bolt to my left (this route had very little fixed protection). The sight of the bolt convinced me that this was my one chance to escape! But to clip it I had to be very calm. I spent about 5 minutes trying to recover and figure out the right sequence to reach the bolt. Carefully, I made it there, clipping gratefully.
Time to retreat! Lane lowered me on a traverse back to clean a couple cams at the first pillar, then I climbed back to the bolt for a straight lower. Oh, the bolt was also pretty rusty as this location is covered in water 3/4 of the year I guess. So that was creepy. I cleaned a small nut I’d placed at the beginning of the wet sequence and came down.
Lane on the wall The scary pitch that turned me back :D
Alas! And we couldn’t claim to be surprised either. I really need to understand that west-facing walls have many strikes against them in early season. As Lane said, a south-facing wall would have rocked. We’ll get another chance…
We rappelled and sometimes downclimbed in order to reverse traverses. Our single 60 meter rope did fine. After eating sandwiches, we decided to hang out at the sport-climbing crag at the base of the wall.
We climbed a nice route (6a? 6b? Don’t know) with a real sting in the tail on the final clips. Beautiful pocket climbing gets you most of the way up, then they run out and you need a big reach to get a little higher. Then you side-cling and under-cling finger cracks at an overlap. A hilarious reachy move to an amazing flake gets you to the anchor. Lane and I puzzled out the route, enjoying it quite a bit.
We thought to do something else, but were intimidated by the huge runout to the first bolt. Already being tired, we couldn’t handle it. Everything else was just too hard. Alas…modern rock climbing!
Lane and I will certainly climb something else later, he doesn’t mind the long drives from Northern Europe!
Lane at the base of the sport climb.