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Fairly Long, Moderately Hard and Mostly Free (Read 112704 times)

duncan

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Great stuff again jwi.

Yossarian, the SE Diedre of the Fleischbank is in Extreme Alpine Rock (Im Extrem Fels). I can scan the pages if you like. Herman Buhl mentions it several times in Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage including his solo and seems to have enjoyed it.

Yossarian

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TBH alpine limestone has always filled me with dread vs granite. I think if we were to consider it there are plenty of lower stress / easier access routes around Europe that we ought to try first!

jwi

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duncan

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TBH alpine limestone has always filled me with dread vs granite. I think if we were to consider it there are plenty of lower stress / easier access routes around Europe that we ought to try first!

My limited experience of the Alpine limestone classics (eg Yellow Edge, Sella Towers and Piz Ciavazes) is the climbing can resemble a bigger Stoney Middleton with better views.  Some of the less celebrated modern sport routes are (whisper) much better...

lukas_s

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Anything specific you want to know? I have climbed quite a few routes on that face. Its quite a big wall with a lot of routes in very different styles. The most famous route on the east face itself is the South-East dihidral (Südostverschneidung) (as already mention an "extreme rock route") - and its really good as well. But theres also a lot less well known routes, from old classics to modern sportroutes and scary trad-climbs from the 80s.
The first UIAA 7, Pumprisse, in the Alps is also on Fleischbank (though not on the east face, but on the "Fleischbankpfeiler"). Thats also where "Des Kaisers neue Kleider", the famous Glowacz route is. .
I think the route Buhl solod was the "Wiesner/Rossi" (Südost-Wand) but not 100% sure.

jwi

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I have compiled a list of Twenty-five routes well worth doing in the Verdon, and some practical advice on gear/raps etc, might be of interest in this context?

SA Chris

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Good article.

Interestingly

Quote
Il giochi de prestigio is Italian for “a game of prestige”, i.e. stage magic. (In English as well has French prestige has lost its original sense of ‘conjuring tricks’, if I am not mistaken).

is true apart from resurrecting it for the film title, which i think caused a bit of confusion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prestige_(film)

A bit like the "III" being dropped from the film version of The Madness of King George, so audiences didn't think it was a sequel..


jwi

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good knowledge!

Yossarian

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I have compiled a list of Twenty-five routes well worth doing in the Verdon, and some practical advice on gear/raps etc, might be of interest in this context?

That’s brilliant! Haven’t been to Verdon since the late 90s but that brings it all back (mostly in a good way)...

SA Chris

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It is an amazing place. Did a 2 day hit when passing, L'Eperon Sublime and La Demande, first experience of multi-pitch sport.

jwi

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The second volume of Mussato's œuvre Itinéraires d'un grimpeur gâté (itineraries of a spoiled climber) has recently been published. The first volume is a great classic with 104 routes where the criteria for inclusion is very close to OP

Inclusion criteria are great climbs of ~8 pitches or longer with minimal death potential.  I'm not keen on freezing in a storm or being hit by lumps of rock or ice and crevassed approaches void my BMC insurance (plug for sponsors).  BHAGs could stretch as far as E6 trad. and 7b-ish sport.  Routes should be mostly free, a little sneaky cheating is acceptable. 

Philippe Mussato himself has put up hundreds of multipitch routes in all grades up to 8b+ in the area, including famous routes like Ali Baba in Aiglun.

In Mussato's books routes of a wide span of difficulties between 5c and 8a+ are included, most of them at least 8 pitches and nothing with glacier approach. All routes are in the French alps (if the Calanques are a part of the alps...). Every route mentioned has a usable topo and detailed approach and access descriptions. Around a third of the routes in the book are partly or entirely on natural protection, the rest are fully or almost fully bolted.

Volume 2 contains 132 routes. Like in the first volume, for each route a grade E1-E4 details how far it is between the points of protections and a grade F1 (12 mm stainless bolts) to F6 (no fixed gear) gives information of the quality of fixed gear.

So far I have only really used volume 1. I have only done a handful of routes of the selection in the second volume, most have been very good and one of which I do not think should be included in a book of this type, but I'll report back when I have used the book more. (I would trust Mussato's opinions over mine anyway)

duncan

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Thanks jwi.

When Graham Hoey was promoting his Gritstone guidebook the second half of his talk consisted of adventures on some of the routes in Musatto's vol. one. I'm afraid to say I found this more inspiring than his gritstone exploits!

cheque

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for each route a grade E1-E4 details how far it is between the points of protection

It’ll never catch on.

Johnny Brown

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Book sounds great.

Quote
for each route a grade E1-E4 details how far it is between the points of protections and a grade F1 (12 mm stainless bolts) to F6 (no fixed gear) gives information of the quality of fixed gear.

But no indication as to whether the gaps are easy or impossible to protect with your own gear?

jwi

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Book sounds great.

Quote
for each route a grade E1-E4 details how far it is between the points of protections and a grade F1 (12 mm stainless bolts) to F6 (no fixed gear) gives information of the quality of fixed gear.

But no indication as to whether the gaps are easy or impossible to protect with your own gear?

If so, it is described in the text, usually in a vague terms like "a few friends might be useful to lessen the runouts on the easier pitches" giving the impression that the author definitely did not bring any gear. To be fair, many of the routes would require gear wizardry on a level rarely found on the continent to significantly improve the security.

Routes requiring gear, indicated with TA (for "terrain d'adventure") or TAP (for "terrain d'adventure protégé" for mostly bolted routes), are also given a grade E1-E4 depending on how spaced the protection is. Only on routes indicated by TAP a specific rack is given.

jwi

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Thanks jwi.

When Graham Hoey was promoting his Gritstone guidebook the second half of his talk consisted of adventures on some of the routes in Musatto's vol. one. I'm afraid to say I found this more inspiring than his gritstone exploits!

It looks like there are some excellent adventures to be found by following the recommendations in the second volume as well!

Fultonius

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Strone / Sron? :)

Elsewhere in Scotland there are a couple of routes on the Main Bastion of the Shelterstone that run to 8 pitches or so and are 3* routes; Haystack E3, Steeple E2, The Needle E1, Stone Bastion E5. Not done them myself, but they look excellent. There are a few on Creag an Dubh Loch too, although most of the harder routes only run to 5 or 6 pitches.

Also The Spire at E4 (basically a 2 pitch variation of either The Steeple or Haystack) and the newer route called The Heel Stone.
Did The Spire yesterday, which was a wake up to the senses - clearly my Cairngorm granite-foo is weak, got up it but was pretty out of ideas in a few sections. Nearly peeled off the "4b" second pitch (5b/c), and the big nuts decided they had had enough mid crux and decided to unclip themselves from my harness and run for freedom. Back to the car at 11pm - proper day out!   :great: :great:

Left shoulder feeling a bit poorly, but nothing major I think. Deffo a nudge too short in stature to really feel like the "mini bigwalls" of the thread, but a perfect proving ground and mini adventure in it's own right.

SA Chris

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I have (had while the weather was good) a hankering for something long in the mountains, still not been to Dubh Loch.

Apparently it looked like a mini festival camp up there over the warm spell, about a dozen folk camped by the shore.

Fultonius

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I have (had while the weather was good) a hankering for something long in the mountains, still not been to Dubh Loch.

Apparently it looked like a mini festival camp up there over the warm spell, about a dozen folk camped by the shore.

Aye, even Friday there were 10 or so tents. Went to Beinn a Bhuird for Freebird with Andy on Saturday - nice to get that one done - great fun!

jwi

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Three more recommendations from Verdon: https://steepground.blogspot.com/2021/10/three-more-recommended-routes-in-verdon.html

(La Demande, Au-delà du Délire and Dame Cookie. Dame Cookie might fail on the Moderately Hard bit 🤷🏼‍♂️)

duncan

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Great stuff! The first two definitely count and good beta for Au-delà du délire, certainly on the list.

I did La Demande in 1980 on my second Verdon trip when this style really clicked for me. A really enjoyable experience. Had to rescue a well-known South West (England) activist benighted in the final chimneys on the same trip. He wouldn't be the last.

jwi

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I did La Demande in 1980 on my second Verdon trip when this style really clicked for me. A really enjoyable experience. Had to rescue a well-known South West (England) activist benighted in the final chimneys on the same trip. He wouldn't be the last.

I do not know when the drilled protection appeared in the final chimneys, but in 1968 they had one piton on the last overhanging stem-chimney bit. Now it has three bolts and is one of the best protected parts of the route. The leader is unlikely to risk their life in the top chimneys anymore, but they are still awkward.

We had a real traffic jam where we got stuck behind a team on La Demande and a french team on La pâte demande, which shares a pitch and a half with La demande. I chatted a bit with the French team and told them I was absolutely sure that the team ahead of us would get benighted, and so would we if we did not manage to pass. (We started fashionably late in the day of course). One of the french guy looked at me and said "You will also be benighted, even if you pass the other team. Count on the chimneys to take twice as long as the total time up to the chimneys".

(It turned out that the slow team was equally slow/fast on chimneys as on hand- and finger-cracks. So I think they managed to get up in time)

petejh

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Jonas, have you done 'La Costa', or any other routes, on Les Vuardes in the Arve valley? Wondering how it compares to La Demande. I did costa a few years ago plus some other routes on that cliff, great place!

jwi

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I have only climbed a single multi pitch in Haute-Savoie, that was « Zauberberg » on the nearby Parois de Graumusset. Someone I trust said that La Costa felt like 6a/b, so slightly harder than La Demande then I suppose? On Les Vuardes, « Papy fait de la resistance » certainly looks interesting, but I am rarely in that area.

Fultonius

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Just got back from 6 weeks big-walling in Kyrgyzstan, I'll stick a small amount of info and some photos up here to try and get other Brits psyched to go out there - seems like Americans, Germans, and Russians have the most info on the place, we were the second british team in the last decade or something!

So the Karavshin area is about 45km walk from the nearest road in Vorukh, you will need to hire donkeys. There's a company called Ak Sai who if you pay them lots of money will actually sort you out a plane from Bishkek to Batken and then a helicopter to the valley, we didn't want to do that so we got taxis for the entire length of kyrgyzstan and then got Ak Sai to sort out our donkeys, which didn't work so we ended up hiring them off the local garrison. I digress, essentially the point is either you need someone who speaks Russian well enough to haggle with taxi drivers or you need to pay Ak Sai lots of money.

When you get there, there are are two valleys, Ak-Su and Kara-Su. Ak-Su has the Perestroika Crack which everyone does (7b and normally climbed over 3 days, there are two big ledges to sleep on apparently), and Kara Su has Yellow Wall, home to Diagonal Route on Yellow Wall, which, again, everybody does (one pitch of 7a, the rest is much easier I believe, and usually climbed in a day). We didn't do either of those routes though, mainly because everybody does them and we wanted to be a bit different.

Peak 4810 is the most hellishly impressive mountain-suitable-for-rock-climbing I have ever seen, here is a picture: (sorry it's FB)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/533770_10151100837341225_1433408746_n.jpg

It's about 1200m vertically, takes about 3.5 hours to walk in from base camp with heavy bags and the last bit is up a nasty bit of glacier, I actually ended up leading the fucking-terrifying first pitch (F7a slab climbing protected entirely by RPs and pitons I placed on lead, I am never doing anything like that again ever) to get out of carrying one of the haul bags up the glacier. It faces NW so gets the sun in the afternoons, this means that every morning there is a fairly serious build up of ice on the inside of your portaledge. It would be possible to climb it without portaledges as there are a few good ledges but you would need to move VERY fast and be pretty confident - we packed 6 days worth of food and 8 days worth of water, but right from the beginning we rationed ourselves as much as we could which was just as well as we were on the wall for 10 days. All the routes on the NW face were put up as aid routes in the late 80s and 90s, the first ones were mainly winning entries in the USSR climbing championships. I have no idea about aid climbing and even less about Russian grades (they all got the maximum Russian grade of 6B), but I would say that you do not want to have to aid the first pitch - it would involve copperheads or drilling bolts!

Ok so we did the Mirror Route:

http://mountains.tos.ru/kopylov/pict/g8.gif

We did it entirely free in 40 pitches at about 7b+. The first pitch was absolutely terrifying, there was one other very run-out 7a-ish slab but the rest wasn't too awful (mainly good-but-sometimes-spaced protection and climbing in the 6s), with two well protected pitches of 7b and one of 7b+ (these crux pitches were all absolutely superb on immaculate rock):

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/487606_10151242088259595_1040962822_n.jpg

We did need to take crampons for the summit ridge sadly, I now have a deep seated hatred of rock with snow on it.

We also did a new route on Peak Kotina, we're working on a topo but it took probably the best line on the crag through as much steep ground as we could find, and always taking the easiest line through it. The rock is incredibly free-climbable,  all the steep bits turned out to be about 4 grades easier than they looked! The crux pitch (7a) was escaping a groove through a series of blocky roofs to a belay on the prow of the entire mountain at about 3/4 height, we think the route is about 1000m and have called it Dreaming Spires, we would definitely recommend it as the rock is mainly sublime (ok there are a few pitches where the rock is whack but its a 26 pitch route and the good bits are worth it!)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/225971_10151100836096225_557687990_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/376571_10151100849446225_1969791675_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/305033_10151100859431225_846635480_n.jpg

There's a vast amount of rock, much of it unclimbed. The hardest route done out there was in the Ak Su valley and had one hard pitch of 7c/+ and a few pitches of around 7a+, there is probably potential for harder though! So there is a lot of potential for new-routing, and a lot of potential for trying to free Soviet aid routes of the late 80s, and a lot of opportunity for bivvying in fairly unpleasant conditions. The Russian climbing team was there and they were the hardest men I have ever met - they did a different route to us on Peak 4810 almost entirely free in Alpine style in 4 days, with 7 litres of water between them and sleeping in slings! They said the hardest pitch was 'quite dangerous', which turned out to mean 7b with no gear for the entire rope length. When they got back they stayed up tol 1am drinking vodka, then got up at 5 30am the next day to chase cows away from the campsite with a shovel. The day after that, one of them casually did Perestroika Crack........

Anyway, I would recommend the place to anyone a bit harder, fitter, and psyched for rock-climbing-based-mountaineering than myself (I nearly died on some of the approaches!). I have to admit for the foreseeable future I am going to be a single-pitch sport-climbing pansy!

Starting to research / get psyched for some potential trips... Do you still have any of the photos - none of the FB links seem to be working.

 

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