You’ve gotta love climbing. And you gotta love Switzerland. Climbing takes you to stunning places that otherwise you wouldn’t know or even bother. Some local climbers find tucked away places to climb, and eventually they make it into a guidebook, and then you get to check it out and sometimes you feel like a very, very lucky tourist. Today I had that feeling, I felt privileged to be a climber and discovered an amazing little corner of Switzerland called Isenfluh. We went there to check out this tiny mixed crag called Little Vail (or Sulwald) that we’ve been meaning to visit for a long time, after hearing good things about it from Tom Ballard. The place is tucked away in the valley next to Grindelwald, so you get amazing views of the North Face of the Eiger from pretty much anywhere. Also lucky is that next to Eiger you have some impressive mountains like Jungfrau, and that we were blessed with gorgeous alpine sunshine.
I got on it not expecting much, as I’ve been feeling drained of energy the last few days, I think it’s just accumulative exhaustion of going at it for so long now. The beers last night didn’t help either, Rob deciding that we should have a pint before bed in the Gemmi Bar as we’d never seen it open. Anyways, the climbing was good but I wasn’t sure about some of the hooks, they seemed a bit too marginal and maybe loose. But as good as always, Rob shouted “just yank on it!”, and indeed I made my mind that I just had to trust the placements and go for it. I dropped a tool so I worked the moves with just one tool. When I got to the curtain, it was obvious it needed a lot of cleaning and big stuff was gonna come down. So I lowered off, moved the stuff about and climbed back up the column of ice to the curtain to break some hanging daggers of ice. Then I went to the sunny side, warm up and re-tape my hands (I still have a gashed finger), psyche up and went for the redpoint. I decided I was gonna go for it, no fucking about, either fall-off or top-out. It went more smoothly than I expected, trusting the placements and fig-fouring a couple of times. I got to a good rest and Rob shouted to try and get on the ice as soon as possible, and I turned around and the ice was closer than I expected. Then suddenly I felt good, really good, I was going to do this if I just keep it together and don’t blow it. I made the next move to a 3mm deep hook, which to had to keep pulling down as otherwise it would rip, and then somehow lay one on for the ice. It stuck, I swung around, clip the higher bolt and de-pump for a long time before finishing up the ice. Very pleased with the day, thanks Switzerland.
see more pics and read Ramon’s blog