After my Rätikon plans fell through I was lucky to get a call from Mirko. He was heading to Mount Titlis with two friends and asked if I was keen to join. So two days later I found myself driving into the Urner Alp at the end of the Engelbergtal in central Switzerland. The North face of Titlis is a relatively new climbing area as the rock requires bolts to make climbing possible. Looking through the guide I quickly found my objective for the trip. A stunning 480m line of 11 pitches up a large pillar ending just to the right of a prominent pinnacle.
As usual the 5.30am alarm was not necessary, before a big day in the mountains I’m always awake long before. A quick breakfast followed… and by 6.15 Mirko, Andi, Hardy & I were on the trail. The 1st hour was relatively easy up a steep trail to the mountain hut but then “off-piste” up steep grassy slopes and eventually to the high snow fields that dominate the base of the wall. A huge scar (from a house-size block) on the wall and a new scree field was waiting for Hardy & I below the start of our chosen route. With helmets on we carefully approached up the final snow, the first time I was actually really happy to wear a helmet. We gained access to the start of the route by climbing into the gap between the rock and the ice-field, a first time for me!
The Climb: 12 hrs
If the walk didn’t wake me up the tricky slab of the 1st pitch sure did, luckily I’m a terrible Rock, Paper, Scissors player. The next 3 pitches of perfect rock flew by until before us was the crux. It was obvious where it was, as it said in the guide 7a+ or 2p.a./6a and there were 3 bolts really close together 5 m from the stance. I gave it a good try but as we learnt from then on, the yellowish rock is not the best quality. After getting through some crubbling holds I realized it was pointless… but after cleaning some of the broken rock (we were the 1st to climb it this year) I lowered down and sent it next try. Hardy also popped off following the pitch due to breaking holds. On the next pitch while following Hardy I also broke a hold and went for a nice little swing 🙂 The next pitch was a diagonal traverse on what I can only discribe as a teetering pile of dinner plates – important to pull DOWN, not out! Lucky after this pitch the rock quality improved again and we raced through the next 3 pitches reaching the top around 19.00.
The Abseil: 1.30hr
I must admit the 480m to the ground looked epic but somehow we found a good system, probably from my days bolting at Paarl, and it went relatively quickly…
Walk down: 1.30hrs
We reached the base at 20.30 and were heading down to the mountain hut where we rested our knees and drank some water. Hardy thought he had lost the car keys at the base so started back up the hill, EPIC! I in-the-meantime walked down with all the heavy gear in two backpacks and got to the car by 22.00… to see the other two guys had the keys. Needless to say Hardy wasn’t stoked when he arrived an hour later
Thx to Mirko, Andi and Hardy for the awesome day!