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  #21  
Old 15.01.2011, 10:50
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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Maybe off topic, but food for thought:

Real challenge is Oh so very subjective and personal, and varying depending on a host of situational factors, as my own experience illustrates, I wrote it the day before: 14 years back, as a climbing virgin I had free-soloed a long route in the night. Last week when I repeated it, but this time in broad daylight and had all requisite climbing equipment and climbing partners, and the route is now a bolted 9-pitch long sport route, it still felt as challenging as 14 years ago.
Hi mate - just read those reports on summitpost - that is a GREAT story. See you back in Zürich soon.
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  #22  
Old 15.01.2011, 11:10
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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Sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree. Briethorn is not couch climbing. Reading many reports and getting information from diverse sources is very useful if you want a balanced view. I for one don't believe in pissing on the electric fence to test if it conducts.
I totally agree with you. Breithorn may be easy compared to the majority of mountain peaks but still demands respect.

I think that it is generally considered to be the easiest 4000m peak to reach in The Alps. If nothing else, there is the altitude to acclimatise to.
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  #23  
Old 16.01.2011, 16:02
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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A video link to show you a little of what it looks like from a climbers point of view.
I can't "thank" you for some reason but that video is great, thanks for posting it. I saw something similar on tv a couple of weeks ago about the Finsteraarhorn and Jungfrau, it's interesting to compare with that Matterhorn one! Unbelievable crowds!
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  #24  
Old 16.01.2011, 17:09
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

One cannot thank old posts. Thanks for the thanks though. Nice to know that someone looks at the things posted here.
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Old 17.01.2011, 16:31
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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I totally agree with you. Breithorn may be easy compared to the majority of mountain peaks but still demands respect.
True, what I implied was that if you slip and fall during a hike up the Breithorn you will probably twist a leg or so, but if you do that during something like Matterhorn you are likely to be turned into ketchup. That and number of people that die up on Matterhorn each year should be evidence enough that categories and classifications don't mean much.
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  #26  
Old 17.01.2011, 19:15
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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Nice to know that someone looks at the things posted here.
While mountain climbing threads may never reach the popularity heights of divorce threads and fat-loss threads, rest assured ma'am, the handful of people who are reading this thread are actually reading it with a lot of interest.


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True, what I implied was that if you slip and fall during a hike up the Breithorn you will probably twist a leg or so, but if you do that during something like Matterhorn you are likely to be turned into ketchup. That and number of people that die up on Matterhorn each year should be evidence enough that categories and classifications don't mean much.
Aw, c'mon man, this is getting a bit tiring. Of course it is far more difficult to haul yourself up the Matterhorn and not to fall off in the process, and the consequences of a fall are too gory to imagine, as compared to Breithorn, that is precisely the reason why the two mountains have their respective grades AD and F. What exactly is your problem with mountaineering classifications I rest my case on this.

I will return to the substantive issue of this thread later.
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  #27  
Old 17.01.2011, 19:56
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

Hi Odeutsch, I am not a climber myself but my brother is a keen Alp climber. In the UK there is http://www.alpine-club.org.uk/join/index.html The Alpine Club.
They have organised climbs and events where you could get a lot of experience from other climbers and be safe doing it.....
If you are Deutsch es kann sein das so ein vereine gibt auch in DE.

Learning how to climb properly will allow you to enjoy a difficult/dangerous climb a lot more....
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  #28  
Old 17.01.2011, 20:25
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

A good idea to gain climbing experience besides joining an Alpine Club is to take on many of those fine klettersteigs / via ferratas that one can find across Switzerland. Most of them combine trekking with climbing (though the route will be fixed with cables, ladders etc.).

Some of them can give you a real blast in your stomach and you get used to the climbing gear, heights and learn techniques.
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  #29  
Old 17.01.2011, 21:09
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

The mountains are the means, the man is the end. The idea is to improve the man, not to reach the top of mountains

-Walter Bonatti


I think basically there are two approaches to get into climbing (and I am writing from the perspective of beginners/recreational mountaineers). Neither approach is universally right; it just needs to be right for you and make you happy, for, as with all human endeavors, climbing mountains is also a quest of happiness.

Approach 1: This approach is appropriate if you are in Switzerland for a short time, don’t want to spend too much time and money on climbing but want to just tick off a Swiss mountain from your list (doesn’t matter if you are clueless about its difficulty, if you have never spoken to someone who’s climbed it, haven’t even seen videos and other basic info about it). The best thing in such cases is to contact a mountain guide; he will evaluate your fitness, advise a suitable peak for your level, prescribe a training peak or two and 2 weeks of acclimatization (make it one if you are in a hurry). For about 1-2 k CHF, you can pay the guide and rent most equipment; the guide will make all decisions and take you up and down as you saw in that video, and lo, you have belted your mountain and congrats Sir.

This is a quite a valid approach, however not all climbers may consider you a climber if you can't lead and participate in decision making.


Approach 2: If you have the option to build it up over time, then you would start by first getting out to the mountains a lot, be it as a serious hiker or skier or via ferrata or heli skiing or whatever, and develop atleast some passing familiarity with the various mountains conditions, know your strengths and weaknesses etc., how your body behaves in similar if not actual conditions, before you even utter the “mountaineering” word. Only then can you make a meaningful wishlist, else it will be like a child saying I want to become an astronaut when I grow up, based solely on what it saw on TV.

This approach is expensive because you will be getting out a lot and renting isn’t an option. While there is no limit to what you can buy, a basic set of equipment and apparel can easily cost over 5000 CHF, plus several training courses, which may add another couple of thousand CHF, or you go out with more experienced climbing partners; slower but more enjoyable.

In this approach, which particular mountains you climbed becomes irrelevant. More relevant question would be, were you able to find and climb a mountain that no one else was climbing that day? Has climbing influenced you at a personal level? Do you have a decent basic fitness, and are you climbing mountains respectfully i.e. lower than your max ability? …Speaking my own limited experience, when I look back at my first climbing year, the achievement I am most proud of is the dozen odd climbing partners from nearly as many countries, and forged such strong bonds…
not what summits I stood on.

One has to figure out which approach or a combination of works best for oneself given various personal factors, including age, fitness, risk appetite, money, time, work & family conditions, etc. Neither approach is universally better.


I end with a quotation by Chris Bonnington

What do I get out of climbing?

It starts with the physical satisfaction of clambering up a stretch of rock, essentially the physical satisfaction of an athlete; but where climbing starts being different and so much stronger in experience is that element of risk, that you are staking your life on your judgment. There is the wonder of the beauty of the mountains, the strength of friendships, when your life is literally in your climbing partner’s hands.


- Chris Bonnigton


Some useful links:

Zermatt Alpine Centre (especially handy for approach 1)
Zermatt guides (this is just alphabet A; check out others too)

Illustrative Training/fitness for different mountain classifications

ISM One of the oldest (and i am told best) training schools in CH.
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  #30  
Old 17.01.2011, 21:31
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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ISM One of the oldest (and i am told best) training schools in CH.
I took their Summit and Skills 4k course this past summer. It was excellent, though not cheap. In particular I took it to get a feel for what is involved in actual mountaineering, and it was good for that in several senses of the word. I learned things that I expected to, such as how crampons are supposed to fit and what sort of backpack makes sense. I also learned more than I expected to about how out of shape I am/was. Now that I'm relocated to Zürich I gotta get to work on that. As far as I know, there aren't many other English speaking mountaineering schools in the alps.

I suppose I see taking such a course as sitting somewhere between the two approaches described. There is professional assistance, and a lot of the details were taken care of, but the course schedule did also have a lot of skill development time and so on.
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  #31  
Old 18.01.2011, 10:37
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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While there is no limit to what you can buy, a basic set of equipment and apparel can easily cost over 5000 CHF.
Where do you find such crap to post? Are we talking of silver ice axes that cost a fortune here?

You seem to spend more time on internet climbing than doing the actual thing and again posing as an expert by pasting quotes and giving bogus numbers.

Try to read and think before doing copy and paste.
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  #32  
Old 19.01.2011, 20:05
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

I had a little chat today with a young lady who went up the Matterhorn a couple of years back.
She agrees with the point made in other posts that the climbing on the Matterhorn is, from a climbing point of view, technically not all that difficult.

One main problem is finding the route. She said herself that this sounds idiotic but the guide who took her up said that he had done it a dozen times before he felt that he really knew the route off by heart. And going just a couple of metres to the left or the right might mean you are in a rockfall area which means that keeping on track (except that there isn't one!) is high priority.

Fitness is a major issue because you don't get any breaks. For a 'normal' climber it is four hours climbing up and another four hours climbing down. Coming down is just as difficult, if not more so, and to top it all there is the tiredness. Together it is eight hours solid concentration. Pretty well the whole route is what the mountaineers so neatly call 'ausgesetzt' which means there is nothing to stop you if you slip.

Setting off together in the early morning, if they have not reached the Solvay Hut after a set time, the guide takes his 'customer' back to the Hörnli Hut base. The guide may have only met his partner the evening before and it is very difficult for him to be sure whether someone has the ability and fitness to do the climb safely or not. After this first stretch of the climb it is more obvious whether the rest if feasible or not. I believe these days they insist on 'proof' of other tours first too.

It is not necessary to be a climber with an enormous amount of strength - it is the ability to climb without the use of too much energy which is essential.

Conditions make a great deal of difference.
Ice or snow make the rock much more dangerous.
In the 'high' season, other people are in the way, ropes get twisted round each other, there are queues at the fixed ropes, one cannot climb at one's own pace and thus the level of concentration required is again increased.

So, there we have it. One person's experience. But 'she' said it, I didn't, so there is no point in anyone disagreeing with me.
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Last edited by Longbyt; 20.01.2011 at 18:27.
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  #33  
Old 19.01.2011, 21:05
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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a young lady who went up the Matterhorn a couple of years back.
Do you by any chance mean the young English lady who climbed it some 40 years ago and is now Swiss? Must have been a lovely young lady
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  #34  
Old 19.01.2011, 21:08
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

No, this particular lady isn't English. Swiss from birth! You wouldn't catch the other one up a mountain like that, even in her youth. But thanks for the compliment.
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  #35  
Old 20.01.2011, 10:09
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

I can share another young lady's experience (mind you, she's also quite 'normal' when it comes to fitness, she doesn't even run.

So I was hiking up to the Hornli hut once with her when she shared her experience. She said there were far too many "fat asses" (note to the reader: she uses that phrase fairly often, usually without malice) climbing there, lot of stones being kicked loose, expletives and curses floating around, the frustrated feeling of getting stuck behind someone with a big rear end who can't be overtaken safely, all in all an ugly experience, they aborted within an hour deciding never to do that route in her life (but she climbs a 4000'er every weekend, there's a lot to climb in CH).

On a more sombre note, based on her talks with the hut warden, it seems (and this is something I had not read anywhere before, so I was surprised and horrified to hear; somebody pl verify) most bodies recovered from Matterhorn are found naked, seems everything gets torn off as you tumble down. Seems most fatalities are of people from the poorer European countries; they go ahead even when weather is bad, because they can't afford to wait out a few more days, and so much prestige/financial sacrifices is at stake back home. Food for thought.

Eiger North Face is an all-time classic real challenge Swiss peak; if you just want to know what basics you need to meet before you dream of it, see this link
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  #36  
Old 20.01.2011, 12:10
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

And just to break all our hearts, there is a programme tonight on Swiss TV SF 1 about Ueli Steck.
He's the guy who climbs free, no hooks, no ropes etc. and fast. There'll possibly be a video copy on-line afterwards. If there is, I'll add the link tomorrow.

Here's the SF.TV link to this evening's programme.

Last edited by Longbyt; 20.01.2011 at 21:55. Reason: liink added
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  #37  
Old 20.01.2011, 12:55
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

Ueli Steck's triple speed record (2009)
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  #38  
Old 20.01.2011, 14:10
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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And just to break all our hearts, there is a programme tonight on Swiss TV SF 1 about Ueli Steck.
He's the guy who climbs free, no hooks, no ropes etc. and fast. There'll possibly be a video copy on-line afterwards. If there is, I'll add the link tomorrow.
I went to see Ueli Steck give a chat at the Volkshaus in ZH last week. Inspirational guy. Amazing body strength and understanding of how to push his body and when to hold off. His production crew are putting the finishing touches to his documentary movie "Speed" which is scheduled for a spring 2011 release.

I came away from the evening a lot wiser. Like I'm not about to go free climbing up vertical ascents just for the hell of it. Better to live dreaming than die semi-fulfilled in my opinion when it comes to granite.
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  #39  
Old 20.01.2011, 17:10
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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And just to break all our hearts, there is a programme tonight on Swiss TV SF 1 about Ueli Steck.
He's the guy who climbs free, no hooks, no ropes etc. and fast. There'll possibly be a video copy on-line afterwards. If there is, I'll add the link tomorrow.
I completely forgot to add the warning 'Don't try this at home'.
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  #40  
Old 20.01.2011, 17:34
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Re: Climbing "real"challenge Swiss peaks..

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I completely forgot to add the warning 'Don't try this at home'.
Okay, whose apartment contains a 4000m mountain?
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