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New trad route in Oeschinensee, Kandersteg

By Ramon Marin | 08, Feb, 2011

A wider view of the Oechinensee crag, by Kandersteg town. You can see the top of "Buch Dich", is the very slim tongue of ice at the top of the cliff before it drops down.

On Monday we went up to have another look at the unclimbed line we spotted after our retreat from “Buch Dich”. The good thing about the line is that it looked that it would go all trad and it linked to a very nice looking ice drip high above in the cliff. What caught Rob’s eye at first sight was an appealing crack system that would take you to a ledge, and then it looked like some easier climbing would take you up to the ice. We went up the first time to have a look, but the first meters we tried didn’t go, and then we tried another start that look promising, but the fading light made us finish that day.

This time with more decisiveness and a full day in front of us, we got to the bottom of the line and yes indeed it looked great. You could see this immaculate crack high above that had to be climbed, and best of all it would go with no bolts, an unusual thing here in Kandersteg, and of course, onsight and ground up. The first pitch took the longest to sent as we were figuring out the climbing as we went, as it turns out the crack had to be rock-climbed with hands and doing some laybacking and a bit of hand jamming. That first pitch was absolute quality and totally 3-stars climbing. Then one pitch of easier but still very fun terrain got you to the base of the ice fall. One more pitch up some very brittle unclimbed ice got me to the top. The whole thing took us about 8hrs climbing and we finished in the dark, but with great satisfaction. We reckon it goes around M6, Wi5, or Scottish VII. Let’s hope for a second ascent!

The crack above Rob is what caught our eye, it turns out it was awesome to climb. From the grassy blobs, I took my gloves off and led with my hands. Getting around the bulge I used the undercut crack, but there was nothing for my feet really to a point I considered to undo my crampons. Luckily, I spotted a slot for my axe so I unclipped it and jam it in, that probably saved me from taking a whipper as I was a bit desperate by then.

The second pitch has some easy mixed up a crack and then joins the ice. I reckon on fatter years, you can probably use the ice all the way to the third pitch pillar. The ice next to Rob was in very poor state.

read Rob’s round up of their time at Kandersteg so far.

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