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03.04.2012

First ascent Badlands

Badlands

The crux of the whole climb, a 200 to 250m high wall

I take off my backpack, drop it in front of me into the snow and take out a cereal bar and my water bottle. I don’t like the taste of the bar so I swallow it in two bites. With a sip of water I rinse away the disgusting aftertaste. Three and a half hours I'm on my way now. Usually it takes me one and a half hours to get here, but with this much snow – constantly I sink in to my knees - every step is a torture.

I sit on my backpack and think about what I should do now. Putting up a new route on the north face of Schrammacher seems to be impossible today. For a party of two maybe, but I'm on my own today. Besides having to break trail through the deep snow all by myself, I know that there is no place for mistakes. For ten minutes I'm sitting on my pack, quietly, enjoying the silence and the clear light that gives the walls in front of me a cool blue shade. I look around a bit: Fußstein, Schrammacher, Sagwand. The scenery is great, intimidating and motivating at the same time.

I still have no idea what I should do now, after I've given up my plans on Schrammacher. As my eyes wander along the ridge that connects the Sagwand with the Hohe Kirche, I suddenly spot an impressive line. It starts off with an ice face leading into a long snow field before a steep wall of around 200 to 250 meters rises up into easier terrain again.

This looks interesting, I think and after half an hour I’m standing under the first ice step. A thin glaze covers blank granite slabs. The ice is hard and brittle, but I'm still making good progress. Also the snow field I leave behind me quite fast and just before eight o’clock in the morning I’m at the base of the 250 meter wall.

I take the time to look for the easiest line. The direct start looks hard and the rock seems to be quite loose. Spindrift is coming down continuously. A little to the left there would be another possibility, but it also looks too difficult for a solo ascent. Maybe further left, I think. First you would have to climb along some big flakes, which would lead you into a big corner. This would then lead you into another corner, from where you would have to do a pendulum traverse to the right into some mixed terrain. That could work …

The large flakes are easy to climb. I aid climb the section into the big corner and also the corners and cracks up to the pendulum traverse. Although I'm climbing solo, I belay myself on the demanding pitches. I do so in fixing the rope to the belay and repeatedly giving out 10 meters of slack, which I clip to placements while I climb. After reaching the next belay I rappel down to get the gear.

I do the pendulum and leave one friend and one nut behind. Then I climb one pitch that involves some mixed climbing and then some climbing on very thin 80° ice. The section is fantastic and reminds me of some Chamonix classics. Two more challenging mixed pitches lead me into easier terrain.

The hardest part is behind me and snow slopes and easy mixed terrain lead me to the summit, where I arrive 10 hours after setting off at the parking.

Route info:
Valsertal/Tirol,
Unnamed summit on the ridge between Sagwand and Hohe Kirche,
Badlands (700m, 6a M5 WI4 A1), David Lama, 31/03/2012

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