Löwenzähne Westkante

Philipp, Julie, Ari and I headed to Schuttannen on a warm Autumn day. We packed our climbing stuff onto our backs and headed to the Löwenzähne climbing area. I was carrying everything including the kitchen sink as usual.

We arrived before the sun had reached the bottom of the route but we were soon climbing over warm sun drenched rock. I lead the first pitch and was instantly reminded about the alpine bolting feeling of the climb. Philipp and Julie followed the topo and started a little to the right and did a slightly different first pitch. I met them at the first anchor. There was a second anchor there and I set up there and belayed Ari up. Due to her skiing accident at the start of the year she was not going to lead any of the pitches. We swapped around and continued up after Julie and Phil. Julie had lead the second pitch which has the crux (5-). I remember it from last year with Johannes and the year before with Leonie. It’s super polished and scary due to the bolting. I got through the pitch and arrived to find Julie belaying Phil on the 3rd pitch. I set up and Ari came up after. The third pitch has no bolts but is easy. Phil had placed a friend and I placed an extra sling and we were then up to the first tooth of the “Lion’s teeth”.

View up to the crag (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Julie begins climbing (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1)We had a 40 minute (or around about that) walk from Schuttannen where we had parked to the Löwenzähne. They are huge towering towers, “the lion’s teeth”.

2) Julie lead the first pitch with Phil to the right and I lead the pitch directly up the “kante”.

Ari smiling (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Cris (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Ari came up in nachstieg as she didn’t want to risk any falls on her injured knee.

2) The towers are airy and spectacular.

Phil and Julie were already near the start of the fourth pitch. It’s a small walk along a narrow section to the start of the pitch. Johannes and I bailed last year after watching some people on this pitch. Ari and I sorted out our rope and walked over to watch Phil struggle to remove a nut that Julie had placed as a dummy runner at the beginning of the pitch. After perhaps 15 minutes he was successful. I lead the pitch again. It was a bit scary but ok.

I arrived at the anchor and found the others there trying to work out how to proceed. The anchor was just a single ring and Julie had backed it up with a sling through the rock. I waited while Phil started climbing. The pitch began with a short down climb and then a stretched splits type move to a parallel rock face. It was basically a large crack that you had to climb into then bridge across to the other side. Phil managed it and then lead the rest of the pitch with its sparsely placed bolts.

Julie leads the second tower (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Julie bridging the gap (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Julie got into the pitch from the middle abseil point. Johannes and I had bailed here last year and abseiled down to the right. Leonie and I had also exited here the year before after trying a different route around to the left slightly above where Phil is standing. If you look down to the left from where Julie is you can see the tops of the trees far far below.

2) We spent a long time trying to decide how to cross this crack. The problem in leading it was that you were first down climbing then you bridged across to the other side of the crack and began climbing again. The first bolt was higher meaning if you fell you’d fall into the rope and then smash into the belayer’s side of the crack. I certainly didn’t like this part of the climb and was happy to get to the first bolt on the pitch. It also caused problems for the climber on top rope for similar reasons. A fall meant falling into the crack and smashing against the side wall.

It was a bit difficult to second it as the rope, if it were too tight, would pull you down to the other side of the crack and if you slipped you would swing down and hit the other side. This was a bit suboptimal for Ari. Once Ari reached the anchor I explained the situation. One option was for us both to abseil into the crack. The base was large enough that you could walk around a bit and belay from there. I climbed into it once a few years ago while climbing with Leonie. The problem is there is no anchor so although you are kind of on the ground in a way, you can’t secure yourself there.

We decided against abseiling as if I slipped near the edge before clipping the first bolt it might be possible to fall out of the bottom of the crack and plummet 50 m to the ground below. Instead Ari came up with a cunning idea to create a system of slings. I threaded a bit of prusik cord through a hole in the rock and we attached a “maillon”. Ari attached a million slings. The idea was she would climb into the crack attached to the sling then sit in the rope so she was pulled into the middle of the crack. She’d then fight over to the other side and grab the first bolt and remove the slings.

Julie and Phil waiting at the top (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Ari belaying from across the gap (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Julie and Phil waited for us at the top of the highest tower while Ari and I tried to sort out the problem of crossing the crack.

2) Ari belaying me from the other side of the crack. You can see the drops on each side of the towers giving a very airy feel.

I climbed into the crack. For me it was pretty easy to bridge across. I didn’t like the next part though due to the distance between the bolts. The climbing was easy though and the holds were big, just that you couldn’t afford to fall. I arrived at the top of the last pitch and set up to belay Ari. She managed the spalter (crack) very well and had a bit of trouble with the slings. I was hoping like crazy something wouldn’t go wrong here as how would the rescue look? She climbed up to the top where the three of us were sitting.

It wasn’t so long before sunset and we set about checking out the abseil route. We decided to do it in two pitches although the topo says it is possible with 50m half ropes in one. We didn’t feel like throwing the rope off the side and hoping it was down. Phil went first and started setting up the second rope for the second abseil. I went last just as the sun was setting. The second abseil was short but dodgy as it was from a bolt. The topo says there is a ring there but we couldn’t find it.

Ari on last pitch (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Us at the top (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Phil abseils (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Ari scrambling up the somewhat scary last pitch. It’s a long long way down.

2) Us all at the top getting ready to abseil before the sunsets.

3) The sun was about to set. Phil abseiled first and set up the second rope using a bolt for lack of any other place to anchor.

Phil and Julie took the path through the forest back to the car and Ari and I headed back down to the first pitch to collect the rest of the gear including the piles of food I had hauled to the start which we hadn’t eaten. We had taken wraps with us on the climb thinking we’d eat them at the summit but in the end we didn’t have enough time. The rest of the light vanished and Ari and I walked back to the car under the stars.

A good day out with some scary bits.

Ari and Cris at the top (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Sunset (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Ari and Cris just before sunset.

2) The rock looked amazing silhouetted against the sunset.

Above: The topo from bergsteigen.com

Seakayaking in Croatia 2019

Ari and I caught the train to Munich on Thursday evening and stayed with Josep.

We stumbled out of his flat shortly before 6 am on Friday morning and headed to the airport. Our delayed flight got us to Zagreb around midday and after a bit of faff with the rental car we headed away from grey and rainy Zagreb.

It was essentially my first time driving in Europe but with Ari navigating it went smoothly and we drove out to the coast. It was only 14 degrees on the way out but as we neared the coast the temperature increased and it was a nice balmy 25 degrees when we stopped at a campground as the sun was setting. We camped 20 metres from the sea with the ever present Germans. We spoke German instead of English so we probably fitted in well.

Ari is happy to be here  (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)

Above: Ari and I flew to Zagreb in Croatia. We hired a car there and I, yes I, drove to the Adriatic Sea. The weather was pretty rubbish when we landed. It was grey, and wet and dropped to around 14 degrees on our trip towards the sea. We dropped down from the hills near sunset and the temperature climbed and climbed until it was a nice balmy 25 degrees when we arrived. We pitched our tent in a stony little spot at a campsite by the sea. There was an electrical storm some way off in the evening and we listened to it.

On Saturday we drove an hour further South to a small town by the sea and met a guy with a large yellow double sea kayak. After a mere two hours of sorting our gear and packing it into the kayak, we were ready to go.

We kayaked along the coast in sunshine and crossed to the first small island. Then across open water to the big Island Zhalin. Grey cloud obscured the sun but it wasn’t too long before it was gone again. The water was a deep deep blue and a beautiful turquoise in the shallower parts. The island had many coves and after a short search we found one without anyone.

We stopped for a swim (at least I swam) and something to eat. After our private cove was invaded we decided to continue. We paddled up along the west side of the island near the shore. As we reached the end of the island we were exposed to the wind. The crossing to the next island was wavey and windy but enjoyable and we stopped for a rest when we got there.

The wind died down while we were there and the sun began to sink lower towards the horizon. It produced strong vivid colours which I captured with the multitude of cameras I had brought with me. I also brought my cheap drone with me and took a few photos with this of the water and shore.

We continued to our island destination and met our Air BnB guy. He took us to our apartment which was just a few 10s of metres from the sea up onto the island. It looked amazing. Lots of white stone on the outside and tidy inside. We cooked dinner in the evening and lazed about.

Heading off (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Us kayaking (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Our Air BnB (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Cat and kayak (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)

1) We drove about an hour down the coast the next morning and hired a sea kayak. We left from Žaborić and kayaked to the island Zlarin. We stopped there for a break and a swim before kayaking along the side of the island. We crossed choppy water to get to another island named Lupac.

2) We spent some time on the small island of Lupac before kayaking further to the harbour on the larger island named Sepurine.

3) We met our Air BnB host at the shore and he showed us a good place to land further along. We heaved the heavy kayak out of the water with his help and unpacked it taking our stuff 30 metres or so up onto the island to a nice little apartment.

4) We left the kayak with a group of cats that seemed to have made  the little spot near the sea their home. As we came to move the kayak the following day we found they had been sleeping under it. Good guard cats I guess.

Inside our Air BnB (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Cris cooking dinner (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)View out to the water (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)

1) The Air BnB was really nicely presented. Definitely worth going back there again… in another life…

2) We cooked a late dinner of slop. At least that’s what it looks like from the photo. Slop can be tasty though. I don’t remember if this was.

3) The Air BnB was not far from the water in the harbour of the island Sepurine.

On Sunday we went for a short paddle around the side of the island but the wind came up quickly and we retreated. In the afternoon we went for a walk instead and I had a quick swim in the warm water. The wind remained into the evening but it was gone by the following morning.

Off for more kayaking (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Under water (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)View out to sea from the island (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)A guard cat (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)

1) We headed out for a kayak around the island in the morning.  We stopped for a break and the wind began to get up. We checked the amount of fuel left in Ari’s arms and judged the wind and decided to head back to the Air BnB.

2) The great thing about having a water proof camera is you can do this.

3) We went for a walk around the island in the afternoon. We found a small track that lead us along near the water and past the spot where we had landed with our kayak in the morning.

4) The guard cats were still waiting to look after our kayak.

On Monday we paddled back to our rental car, this time following the shoreline. We had a fairly strong tale wind after about an hour and we could just sit in the kayak and slowly move along. With a mix of paddling and being pushed by the wind we found our way back to the car. Another swim for me and then we drove to the Krka national park and spent the afternoon looking at waterfalls with many many other people.

We drove some of the way back towards Zagreb in the evening but then headed out to the coast and stayed at a small campsite where Leonie, Brendan, and I had been in the past.

Kayaking back (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Waterfalls (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)Night at camp (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)

1) We kayaked back to the mainland and drove to the nearest national park in the afternoon.

2) The national park was pretty nice except it was fairly over run by tourists.

3) We drove some of the way back towards Zagreb in the evening before taking a detour down to the little camp site that I’d stayed at in 2015 with Brendan and Leonie.

On Tuesday we went for a short walk on the coast and then drove back to Zagreb catching our plane back to Munich in the evening. We arrived back in Lindau shortly after midnight.

At the coast (Seakayaking Croatia Sept 2019)

Above: We spent a little time at the coast in the morning before driving back to Zagreb and flying back to Munich in the evening.

Climbing in Arco 2019

After our dolomites mission we spent a couple of days climbing in Arco. It was like returning to summer. We arrived in the afternoon and camped at “the zoo” which is right next to a huge line of cliffs full of climbing and about a kilometre from Arco. We made a sensible start by going out for pizza in the evening.

The next day we drove into the hills above the lake stopping near where Frauke and I, now almost 10 years ago, went mountain biking. I’ve been in Europe for a long time.

We walked down a busy rode and where it disappeared into a tunnel we followed a small side road. We branched off and went upwards to the start of our climb (named Kain und Abel). It was an interesting, well bolted, multipitch route with great views. This meant enjoyable climbing and low stress. Perfect.

 

View down to Lake Garda (Climbing in Arco)Johannes leading a pitch (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: From our happy multipitch we could see down towards Lake Garda. It’s the bit of blue in the distance. Above right: The climb was well protected and not particularly difficult.

Cris on route (Climbing in Arco)At the top of the climb (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: The climb was interesting. Above right: From the top we were able to walk back down a track to the road.

Kain und Abel Topo (Arco)

The following day we did another multi pitch climb (the via Calliope) which felt much more scary. I lead the first pitch. Someone had removed the bolts at the top so I set up something around a tree. Johannes wasn’t keen on leading the next pitch which was up a scary slippery chimney which wasn’t well protected. I scrambled up it not enjoying it at all.

I lead the next pitch which also wasn’t much better, starting with a traverse that you couldn’t protect. The climb itself was very funky and technically not so hard just not protected to the level I’d had liked and occasionally a bit polished.

I continued leading the following pitch also which was the crux but had nice big holds. Johannes lead the next one but stopped half way due to rope drag and set up an anchor around a tree. One of his placements between bolts was laughably bad. He had placed a friend into a small groove in the rock so that it faced up out of the rock. He didn’t have any other choice though. It was a case of not protecting it at all or putting in a dubious bit of pro. Probably others wouldn’t have been phased by the amount of bolts but I found it a bit sparse.

The pitch was cool but the rock looked unstable and like it might randomly break. It looked like it had been put down in a big pile with random bits sticking out and looking a bit loose.

I lead the last pitch and set up a final anchor around a tree. Julie and Phil arrived not long afterwards and we walked back down to our campsite.

Johannes belaying (Climbing in Arco)Johannes belaying (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: This pitch was scary. I lead up through a chimney with polished sides. The climbing wasn’t particularly difficult but it wasn’t that well protected and I was not keen to go hurtling down towards Johannes. Above right: Someone had chopped the bolts at the top of the first pitch so I had to set up an anchor around a tree near where Phil and Julie are standing.

Julie climbing (Climbing in Arco)Scary placement (Climbing in Arco)

Above left: Julie almost reaching the anchor on the 2nd pitch. Above right: Johannes was forced to make this dubious placement for lack of anything else.

Phil climbing (Climbing in Arco)

Above: Phil leads the last pitch.

Via Calliope Topo (Arco)

Johannes and I drove back to Lindau the following day and left again in the evening for the last time, getting ready for his new life in Norway. I packed for my Croatian holiday.