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Reto Ruhstaller on pitch 3 of Ben Hur, Wendenstöcke
Photo by Bernd Rathmayr

Ben Hur on Wenden onsight for Reto Ruhstaller


On 19/11/2011 Reto Ruhstaller made what is likely to be the first onsight ascent of Ben Hur 7c+ on the Wendenstöcke, Switzerland

Unusually good conditions this late November have resulted in a swift, clean ascent of Ben Hur perfer et obdura, more commonly referred to as Ben Hur on the Wendenstöcke at the hands of Reto Ruhstaller and Bernd Rathmayr. On 19 November the two Swiss Mountain Guides swung leads up the 300m, 9 pitch outing and Ruhstaller, who led the two hardest pitches, managed to onsight the entire line. Obviously an on-sight ascent of the entire route by a single leader is still outstanding.

Located high up in the Excalibur sector, the overhanging Ben Hur was established in 1997 by Swiss climbers Mike Schwitter and Andy Maag with long run-outs and few bolts and the line was originally graded it 8a. 12 years after the ascent and with no known repeats, they returned and added 20 bolts to make their five star route a safer proposition, but a small trad rack is nevertheless recommended.

38-year-old Ruhstaller, who congratulates the first ascentionists for their route, agrees with Italian Matteo della Bordella and feels the two crux pitches to be 7c. He commented "Ben Hur is a really great climb on one of the steepest walls of Wendenstöcke. For sure it's one the best climbs there: marvellous rock, interesting moves and big exposure. The climbing is variable with athletic parts, but also very tiny face climbing."

For the record, Ben Hur is 37-year-old Rathmayr's 50th route on the Wendenstöcke which include three first ascents with Ruhstaller: Tsunami (7b+, 1996), Nigara (7b+, 1999) and Transocean (7b+, 2010).


Ben Hur, Wendenstöcke
Mike Schwitter and Andy Maag, 1997
300m: 6a+, 7a, 7c+, 7c, 7c, 7b, 7b, 7a, 6c+
topo also on on the website of Anna Carolina Enrich, who redpointed the route on 10/11/2011.





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