Jvan Tresch - Extreme Conditions on the Chalchschijen
A story by Jvan Tresch
When my friend Jürgen Bissig—we call him "Spiri"—first showed me a picture of the Chalchschijen I knew that we needed to climb this amazing wall!
The Chalchschijen stands at the far end of Maderanertal Kanton Uri, Switzerland, not far from where we live. The wall seems close but the approach is definately hard core! It’s all trackless terrain, where one false step could be fatal. After a seven hour hike in you reach one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.
Spiri and I first tried climbing this 700-meter high wall in the summer of 2009. We climbed up to 250 meters and reached the super steep central part of the wall. The wall is quite overhanging, so even in pouring rain (which we experienced a year later), you stay pretty dry in the portaledge! This is as far as we got that year, and retreated with a plan for the next year.
In the summer of 2010 we again made the trek in to try this beautiful wall. We calculated it would take six days on the wall to reach the summit, This time there were were four of us: Dominik Angehrn, our photographer Zvonimir Pisonic, Spiri and myself. After the long nasty seven hour approach with big fat haul bags to drag in and then the necessary evil of dragging the bags up the lower pitches of the wall, we found ourselves back at the steep section that turned us around the year before.
Everything was ready for the climb, and we were pumped. But delusion filled the next day. The base of the wall is at quite a high elevation, the start located at 2,700 meters. We woke to thick fog, rain, and a frosty temperature just 2 degres above freezing—shit! This was in the middle of summer! Despite the rain and fog, we climbed the next three pitches in the overhang, which wasn’t too bad, just very cold. The "fun" really started when we cleared the overhang and were forced to climb in the wet—wet rock, wet air, wet clothes, everything was wet. Our only relief was in the middle of the week, when the sun finally showed up, but unfortunately only for a few hours.
Despite the poor climbing conditions, we managed to enjoy ourselves on the portaledge by playing chess and "shithead" (don’t ask!). Cold and wet the whole time, on the last night things went from worse to ugly. It had snowed 30 centimeters overnight and we woke to avalanches cascading down to our left and right. Above us the snow had really accumulated, and we were in danger of getting caught in icefall.
It was time to retreat, again. After a long, cold, snowy rappel we finally made it to the bivouac. Except for a snapped tendon on my finger, we were able to safely stagger back to town!
To be continued in 2011 ... !