sabato 17 novembre 2012

Sandbach - higher section


Exploration of the upper part of this unbelievable canyon on the norh side of Eiger, under the Mittelegi hut; the lower section, see Eiger! have already been done and filmed, 
now we want to try something else !

Today i am with Laurence and Stephanie, probably ladies have more balls than many other guys....
At the train stop, the Eiger-Jungfrau line, we say good bye to the corean and japanese tourist, ...are you going to the Eiger north face ? Yes of can you explain them that we are going to do a canyon ????

Oh, and there is snow on the approach... we have all the gear for caving , alpinism, canyoning, quite a load !

So here we are. Where ? We are at the highest point we entered in previous descents, just at the bottom of this little glacier; unfortunately an early snowfall of october has produced some avalanches that filled the known lower canyon. The face
above is a steep 700 meters high.
I check the situation on the edge

So we enter... today it's really easy, there is a nice ice bridge, already separated from the upper glacier. It's a little glacier that like others is becoming smaller every year.

That's superb, we have the canyon below and the roof is made by the glacier itself, a light blue compact arch of ice all along.

We are all looking around trying to get familiar to this place and see any potential danger

This "tunnel" under the glacier looks continuing up !

We start climbing up on rock, ice and snow, we are up climbing in the canyon, sometimes the roof of the tunnel is closer to us, sometimes higher, 25 meters above

Here i have to climb over a boulder in dry tooling style

Ladies are following and helping very well, the walls of the canyon are smooth

We reach a higher drop that will require a more long and complex climb, so we decide to go down, it's easier, then climb from outside the glacier, then enter higher to descend inside again... we will see if it's possible !

Laurence coming out
Climbing on the snow and ice of the glacier, we did 3 full pitches of 60 meters, we see the "normal" canyon below

We reach some crevasses

Nice ice arches...

Oh yes we are rappelling inside the glacier though the crevasse, normal people would like better to climb out...

We are amazed by the ice formations

We drop in again on the floor of the canyon, side walls here are about 20 meters high; then climb up on a couloir of snow in the slot, the avalanche has entered the terminal upper crevasse and sent inside some snow, easy climb for us !
The rooftop is always stunning.

Finally we reach the top, we are close to the rock wall, at the end of the glacier and of the canyon, everybody is happy and excited !

Pause for the team, we did not use our neoprene, the water was not flowing...

On the side all along we can see the old ice layers

So on the way down we reach the drop who stopped us before, Laurence is setting the anchor, lady's job !

Close to the exit again, we have a good view of the Grindelwald valley
Finding safe conditions in this place is very difficult, each time here the situation can be very different, the cold makes it safer but nothing is granted. It was a mix of alpinism, caving and canyoning, a very special adventure for all of us.

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