Scottish winter climbing news

    Browsing Posts tagged Charly Fritzer

    Nick Bullock making the possible second ascent of Le Panthere Rose (VI,6) on Raeburn’s Wall, Ben Nevis in January 2012. The route was first climbed led by Godefroy Perroux in April 1993, but despite several attempts, there have been no reported repeats. This year’s team reported that “after a delicate start, lots of funky ice led to the top. Recommended!” (Photo Keith Ball)

    Now the winter season is finally over (yes, it was still going strong four weeks ago in the Cairngorms), I’m conscious that there are several notable routes I have not reported. Although I strive to cover significant events through the winter, some events pass me by, whilst reporting on others eludes me.

    A good example of this was Charly Fritzer and Matthias Wurzer’s new route Pfugga-lule on the Happy Tyroleans wall in Coire an Lochain in the Northern Corries. The Austrians first climbed the route on almost dry snowless rock in mid January, but when they heard feedback that these conditions were not acceptable, they returned and reclimbed the route in bona fide winter conditions after it had snowed a few days later. Charly then led the route several times for the camera, but I was unable to secure a photo for Copyright for these images rests with his sponsor, and it proved too difficult to obtain one.

    Swiss climber Dani Arnold’s visit later in January was perhaps even more impressive, as he made an ascent of The Hurting (XI,11) in Coire an t-Sneachda. This Dave Macleod test-piece was repeated by both Andy Turner and Greg Boswell last season, and like Dave on the first ascent they took long falls in the process. Dani came close to on sighting the route but he also took a long fall from the final moves. He was back two days later to record the fourth ascent – an extremely impressive achievement considering this was his first foray in to Scottish winter climbing. Dani is one of the world’s finest mountaineers, with the current speed record of the North Face the Eiger (2 hours 28 minutes) and (more impressive perhaps) the first winter ascent of Torre Egger, to his credit. Dani said afterwards The Hurting was the hardest [technical] route he had ever climbed.

    Dave MacLeod’s six-metre roof climb, Castle in the Sky on Druim Shionnach in Glen Shiel, was another significant climbing achievement, and typical of Dave, it pushed the boundaries. The pre-protected nature of the route means that it is more in the realms of a continental M-climb rather than a traditional Scottish winter route, but this does not mean that it was a safe undertaking. An upside down Pecker and a blade peg as the key protection must have offered little reassurance, and the route is so unlike any other that it is virtually unclassifiable. A key point perhaps, is that Dave has demonstrated that roofs of this size are physically possible on Scottish winter rock.

    Back in January, Nick Bullock, Tim Neill and Keith Ball climbed Le Panthere Rose (VI,6) on Ben Nevis – I think this was a second ascent, and unreported from early in December, was the first ascent of the five pitch High Grade Low Grade (VIII) by Dave Almond and Duncan Tunstall on Earn Crag at the head of Glen Esk in the Southern Cairngorms. Finally, the day after his repeat of Guerdon Grooves, Guy Robertson climbed the Duel (IX,9) with Pete Macpherson followed by the second ascent of Satyr (IX,9) the next day with Pete and Nick Bullock. Three grade IXs on consecutive days was a outstanding feat, and for me this was one of the highlights of the season.

    Phew, that’s it – finally up to date. I can go to bed with a clear conscience now!

    German climbing star Ines Papert powering up the first pitch of Bavarinthia in Coire an Lochain, Northern Corries. This new IX,9, climbed with Austrian Charly Fritzer, is one of the hardest new routes ever climbed in Scotland by an overseas team. (Photo Simon Yearsley)

    Ines Papert and Charly Fritzer have continued their impressive run of routes. After their first ascent of Triple X (VIII,8) on Ben Nevis on January 28 with Dave Macleod, they headed back east. After a rest day they visited Coire an Lochain on Sunday January 30 where they both led the first pitch of Happy Tyroleans (both abbing down from the stance at the top of pitch 1), before Charly cruised Demon Direct. Ines then led the second pitch (which is shared with Happy Tyroleans), to complete the double tick. They reckoned both routes to be IX,9, but with Happy Tyroleans a little easier to protect as it has some in-situ gear. Interestingly, they both felt that Greg Boswell’s route, To Those Who Wait had, to quote Ines:  “…much harder moves, but better placements.”

    The next day (January 31), Ines and Charly headed back into Coire an Lochain, with Neil Silver and Simon Yearsley, in the face of a poor forecast of strong winds and rising freezing levels. Simon takes up the story:

    “We found a bit of shelter under No.4 Buttress, and whilst Neil and I did Fallout Corner, Ines and Charly quickly dispatched Savage Slit before spotting a new line on the awesomely steep blocky wall between Fallout Corner and War and Peace. It all got a bit exciting in the coire that afternoon… Ines powering her way up the steep unclimbed wall with precarious moves, hard to place gear, feet skitting off, one axe placement ripping, buffeting wind, Charly screaming ‘Gei Lo!’ in encouragement – and then to cap it all, Neil took an impressive 12-metre whipper from the top groove of Fallout Corner! I really didn’t think my nerves could take much more, and I was only belaying! The two-pitch route, Bavarinthia, weighs in at IX,9, and whilst Charly’s second pitch is easier [possibly pitch 2 of War and Peace], it’s a great looking line up an impressively steep wall.”

    Bavarinthia (so named because Ines comes from Bavaria, and Charly from Corinthia) is an almost unique event in Scottish winter climbing. Very few overseas teams have succeeded in climbing new winter routes in the Scottish mountains – two notable exceptions are Raven’s Gully Direct Finish (Chouinard/Tompkins – 1970) and Happy Tyroleans (Schranz/Zak/Netzer –2001). There have been some very impressive ascents by overseas climbers such as Prezelj, Isaac, Cordes, Sourzac, House etc in recent years, but these have taken place in partnership with British climbers (and typically on International Meets). Charly and Ines have certainly been well briefed on their visit, and benefited from superb conditions, but they have also maintained a degree of independence and fully embraced the style and spirit of Scottish climbing.

    Bravo, Ines and Charly – your visit has been an inspiration to us all!

    Triple Talent

    The Rolling Stones area on the East Flank of Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis. Marked in red is the line of Faith Healer (VIII,7 – Small/Parnell 2010), and in blue the new addition Triple X (VIII,8) climbed by visiting climbers Ines Papert and Charly Fritzer with Dave MacLeod. (Archive Photo Simon Richardson)

    Visiting climbers Ines Papert and Charly Fritzer visited Ben Nevis with Dave MacLeod on January 28. After weighing up various new route options, they decided to try a new line based on the rarely climbed summer HVS Rolling Stones on the east side of Tower Ridge.

    The result was Triple X (VIII,8), which starts with a tricky bulge followed by a bold right-tending traverse (led by Charly) before climbing a thinly iced slab on the second pitch (with Ines in the lead). The route then joined Faith Healer (VIII,7) that was climbed by Iain Small and Ian Parnell last January. MacLeod took the ropes on this shared third pitch, which follows a steep poorly protected corner which Parnell had described as “not a married man’s pitch.”

    Conditions have been very good on Ben Nevis over the last few days, but even so, this was a well timed ascent of an icy mixed route that had been on the list of several Nevis regulars.

    Austrian climber Charly Fritzer making the second ascent of To Those Who Wait (IX,9) on Creag Coire na Ciste, Ben Nevis. The Secret is the prominent crack-line just right of the arete. (Photo Greg Boswell)

    Well known German climber Ines Papert is visiting with Austrian Charly Fritzer, and it’s all go in the Scottish mountains at the moment!

    On Wednesday January 26, Ines teamed up with Pete Macpherson made an early ascent of  Daddy Longlegs (VIII,9) in Coire an Lochain whilst Charly climbed Ventricle (VII,8) with Greg Boswell. On Thursday (January 27) they headed up the Ben. Mike Tweedley and Greg made the second ascent of Apache (VIII,9) and Charly repeated To Those Who Wait (IX,9), Greg’s test-piece on the hanging crack above Number Three Gully, first climbed just four weeks ago. “Charly got it second go after falling because a chockstone ripped on his first attempt, and Ines might be going back to try it again later in the trip,” Greg reported.

    Yesterday (January 28),  Mike and Greg visited Coire an t-Sneachda and repeated Pete Macpherson and Martin Moran’s recent route, Omerta (VIII,9). “I managed to climb the route on sight, but only just,” Greg told me. “The crux pitch is mega pumpy and technical. I found it very strenuous to protect due to the dirt and ice in the cracks, and once you had got the hard won protection it was not very good. I thought it was high in the grade.”