The first pitches immediately show us why the route has such a serious reputation.
Our heavy backpacks are weighing us down, the rock is sometimes wet, and the slopy limestone requires careful climbing. The roof traverse at the end of pitch 4 is only graded 5b, but I need some aid to pass the airy and wet section. A few pitches later I decide to climb a steep section without my pack as it feels too insecure. We thought that hauling would help speed us up, but packs get repeatedly stuck on the raw limestone. Danny helps me get my backpack to the belay. What a struggle…
The sun hits the west face as the hours pass by. I lead a sustained 6a pitch, protected by some pitons and mental C3 cams behind thin flakes. Without the backpack and with bolts it would not be a great deal. But now it feels serious, and scary, and we have a long way to go still.
While belaying there is time to think. My thoughts go everywhere, but mostly I feel very aware of our situation. There is nothing wrong, but I can’t say I feel very confident either. Even the 5a and 5b pitches felt pretty demanding.
“Will the upper part be even harder?”
Below me I see Grindelwald. Yesterday, two friends ran the Jungfrau Marathon in a mass of people. We are the only climbers on this huge and serious wall.
“Is this what I really want?”
Usually, when I am in the valley, the answer is, “yes”. But now, with our slow progress, I am not so sure if this is the place where I really want to be. Just keep going, I tell myself.