Sunday, 31 July 2011

SWISS ALPINE CONDITIONING. (Kandersteg Klettersteig)

As an old Brit mountaineer i long ago learned the folly of jumping off a plane in Switzerland and storming straight up the nearest 4000metre peak.Its a recipe for disaster!
As much as i dislike seeing good rock festooned with ugly bolts,rungs,and ladders i grudgingly confess to a guilty affection for Swiss Klettersteigs in recent years.
The damned things are realy useful for re-conditioning us Brits(who only get to Schweiz once or twice a year!)to the sheer scale of the countries exposure,verticality,and the difficulty of judging distances on these larger bergs as against our smaller more compact ranges.
This year(for the second time!)i had the pleasure of warming up on the Kandersteg-Allmenalp Klettersteig.
Its 350metres of vertical delight at grade K4-Schwer with long peg-traverses,wire Nepalese Bridges crossing twice over the great waterfall that drops its entire length.There are two(optional!) Tyrolean Traverses to fly over,if your so inclined?Several delicious overhangs rigged with spiral ladders to take the sting out of the tail,but still keep your heart pounding too the top.Even the final 150metre walk to the Allmenalp Restaurant through pine forest and pasture is wonderful in July,with  its fields of wildflowers and two fully grown Lama stareing snootily at you as you walk and unwind.
The restaurant is inexpensive,charming,and serves half-litre glasses of Iced Tea which you will certainly need!The small DIY unmanned Gondolla that brings you back down to Kandersteg is only a four person affair.You just climb aboard,sit down,and press the Bell Button.(its marked,so dont play with the other ones or you get barked at by the operator through a loudspeaker!)
We didnt bring any Via-Ferratta gear,but thats no problem!You can get the lot for only 30-Swiss Francs a day from the guy at the Gondolla Station below or the Climbing Shop(near the railway station)in Kandersteg.
Make no mistake,this is a tough and demanding climb,true to its grade.As allways i took my own harness with my "chicken chain" attached for drink and photo  stops,and my 50metre 8.5ml half-rope just in case!
I have witnessed at least seven people struggling to reverse this beastie,having bitten off more than they could chew.and the locals dont warn you of its severity.The Swiss are a common sense,pragmatic people who expect you to be intelligent enough to know your own limits!
If your still full of beans when you reach Allmenalp(unlikely!?),you may decide to thrash up another few hundred metres to Bunderspitz summit at 2546metres(T3+) for some incredible views of the entire Kandertal region?! But however far you go i can guarantee a great days climbing,and alpine conditioning.

Good climbing,


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