Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Climbing in the holy land

Every year our climbing group in Oetztal attempts to go away on a climbing trip together. This year suggestions included Turkey, Oman and Spain. But when Israel became an option, I knew immediately that it would be an experience, impossible to miss. On the 26th of December it was time to go for Stew, Babsy, Kathi, Heiko, Hens, Eli, Gabriel, Kili, Anna and me. We found ourselves at airport Munich terminal 2 F ...a lonely terminal far away from the main airport (reinforced control). After a very thorough check by security we sat on the plan, with travel guides in our hand and minds full of excitement and slight trepidation. This was my first time visiting the middle east and I did not know what to expect, one thing was for sure there will be a lot of sightseeing to do between days on the rock. During the time we spent in Israel, Or Wechsler an Israeli climber, guided us around. He showed us many interesting places. Below I have documented some information from the areas we visited:

Keshet Cave: This was my favorite crag. I climbed in the sector Apollo’s wall where the routes were up to 35m long and slightly till strong overhanging with difficulties ranging from 6a to 8b+. The rock was similar to the most crags we went to, orange limestone. A local told me that this area was only a few month old and climbing was still prohibited due to nature conservancy law.  But since a few month a group of strong Israel climbers try to negotiate with the government to ease this regulations and open up more areas for climbing. 

Ein Fara: This was probably my 2nd best climbing spot. Ein Fara is a beautiful desert oasis close to the historical city of Jerusalem and lies in the beginning of the Judean desert. I was impressed about the amazing rock and technical climbing on the main northern wall (south face). The wall on the other site, sector academy, was unfortunately not as impressive but we still had a good time trying out some of the routes there too.  My favorite in Ein Fara was a crimpy and very technical 7c+ line on the main northern wall.

Gitta: Gitta sector Fuel is the oldest area for hard sport climbing in Israel. Here I probably had my best day of the entire trip. The routes were ones again overhanging and steep, but not as long as in Keshet Cave with the most climbs in the 8a region. I dried a lot of different routes but only manage to climb the interesting route called Cornflake 7c+, but I thoroughly needed the restday after. 

Nezer Cave: This is probably the craziest crag I have ever seen. You enter through a hole in the ground were a massive fig tree grows out and inside you will find the steepest wall in the world, a bloody horizontal roof, hence the name “madness” of one sector. This was an interesting experience and proven my incapability of climbing in overhangs.

Wadi Qelt: This was the first area we went to. It is positioned west of Jerusalem in Palestine. After some entering problems into an israeli settlement for parking we were ready for the mission “climbing in Israel”. After quite some walk we entered the valley wadi qelt. This was a very new crag with still a massive amount of potential. The climbing there was quite similar to Ein Farra north side, just with a sligthly better rock quality.  

We made three visits to Jerusalem and each time we experienced something new. It always feel like traveling back in time. We went to the western wall, shopped in the enormous traditional market, went to the food court, experimented local cuisine and absorbed the atmosphere as much as possible. On our second restday we travelled over 2 hours to the Dead Sea, which was definitely worth the effort! I will never forget the feeling of floating around in the water effortlessly and how much the water stung if a milliliter went anywhere near your eyes. On the second restday (after New Year) we had a day chilling on the beach of Herzilya and a stroll around Tel Aviv. On our third and last restday we visited Bethlehem, where we saw the place of birth from Jesus. But must I was amazed about the wall the Israelis build right through the town. Here the you could feel the tension and conflicts between the Palestine and Israelis the best. All the paintings on the wall talked a strong and true language. Overall it was a bit of a different climbing holiday, beside the surprisingly amazing rock and the so divert landscape we learned about another cultural and religion and what it meant for the people they live there.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival 2013

A week after we returned from Sardinia I went to Kalymnos to take part in the PROject competition of The North Face Kalymnos climbing festival. The North Face team, including good friend Hens Auer, bolted a brand new crag for the competition. Eight male and female rock climbers from around the world were invited to take part. There were four routes for the guys and girls opened which were graded between 7c+ to 8c. In two days the climbers tried to climb as many routes as possible in the least possible attempts. Megos Alex climbed all four climbs on the first day and fixed his win, 2nd  Kili Fischhuber and 3rd Daniel Woods, also climbing all four routes. Caro Cavaldini climbed three routes in less attempts than Nina Caprez (2nd) and Barbara Zangerl (3rd). I climbed two of the four routes, but particulary happy with my fight on the steep and pumpy 'Banana Party'. What I most enjoyed, however, was the company of the other climbers each with different climbing backgrounds and goals. Such a diverse gathering of different climbers is very seldom. 

Photos and videos you will find unter:

Now I am back home and looking out at 40cm of fresh snow, thinking about my projects for autumn.   

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Climbing in Sardinia

Mid-September it was time for the yearly Watson-Bacher climbing holiday. This year however we met up with our good friends Kili, Anna, Reini and Tanja to spend 10 days on the beautiful island of Sardinia. First stop was in Cala Gonone where we could not get enough climbing done and therefore climbed 5 days in a row. The fourth day was Stew´s birthday where we hired a boot from Cala Gonone to cross the sea to the amazing peak of Cala Goloritze. Stew and I went on the classic multi-pitch route "Sole Incantatore", which felt rather hard for me. However even if my toes killed me (climbing slabs in the sunshine) all the pain was forgotten sitting on the peak and enjoying the view. I have to admit sometimes in the wall I would of rather been in the beautiful turquoise water right underneath me ;-). The day after we went in a climbing area called "Su Telargiu Oro" (according to us: The Czech-Crag) where there were two enormous caves with steep tufa routes. It was a shame that we only climbed here for one day because this was one of the coolest areas we went to, however in the same evening we left for the south east side of Sardinia. After a day of swimming and snorkelling we went for two days to the "Gutturu Cardaxius" canyon. I enjoyed climbing on a wall named Banana Republic with steep, crimpy routes, just how I like it. Then it was time to go back to Olbia to catch the ferry back to Genua. This was my first time in Sardinia and beside the climbing on the various kind of rock, I loved the time spent by the sea chilling, snorkelling and eating fresh fish under the Mediterranean sun. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

August: Stelvio and Ötztal Climbing Camp

My summer turned out better than expected. I really enjoyed biking, because as soon as the cast was removed I felt like if I could bike like nothing had happened, injury free! The following weeks I trained more on the bike than I did climbing and in August I went to Bormio with Stew where we met his Mum and Dad, because Stew, Mike and I planned to cycle the Stelvio loop. On Monday the 5th of August we left the campsite at 7:30am in Bormio (1225m), cycled up to the Passo Umbrail summit (2501m), cycled down to Switzerland, cycled back to Italy to the Prato allo Stelvio and up the Stelvio (2758m) with the 48 hairpin turns and finally down to Bormio again. In total we cycled 100km with 3200m of climbing. This was probably one of the most challenging things that I have done in my life! The constant battle with your innerself, the determination and the different mental stages you go through, but the feeling of success at the end of the day is so rewarding that you would definitely do it again, again and again. 

As the weeks passed my ankle got stronger and stronger and I switched back from cycling to climbing. End of August was the yearly Ötztal Climbing Camp, which was held already the 5th time in a row. Each year the event grows and gets more professional. I enjoyed working with the motivated climbers, who were eager to learn and improve their climbing skills and enjoy their time on the rock of Ötztal.