Dani Arnold, Martin Echser climb thin ice in Switzerland’s Schöllenen Gorge
Swiss alpinists Dani Arnold and Martin Echser have made the first ascent of the 9-pitch mixed climb Uristier Schöllenen (WI6+/M8) in the Schöllenen Gorge, Switzerland.
Enclosed by sheer granite walls, the Schöllenenschlucht in Switzerland is as wild as is it narrow and over the centuries this north - south connection to the St Gotthard Pass has understandably earned a reputation for being both repulsive and diabolic. Last winter Dani Arnold and Martin Echser homed in on the gorge’s western walls where they completed a 9-pitch mixed route called Uristier Schöllenen.
Arnold and Echser had initially attempted the line in 2018 but their first attempt ground to a halt after just two pitches, as they soon realised the extremely compact rock offered little chances of placing pegs or trad gear. They returned in January 2019 with two other climbing partners and spent a further 6 days forging the route, placing bolts where necessary before grading it WI6+/M8.
Arnold is probably best known fo his record-breaking ascents of the Eiger, the Matterhorn and the Cassin route on the Grandes Jorasses, but his fast repeat of The Hurting in Scotland in 2012 indicates he is equally at home on thin, technical ground.
After the first ascent of Uristier Schöllenen he commented "As always the difficulties depend significantly on conditions. Just few millimetres of ice make all the difference, from very easy to impossible. In many other places when there’s no ice you can hook or find footholds, not so in the Schöllenen Gorge. All this makes the Uristier something extra special. Those who wish to repeat it should be armed with patience in order to wait for the right moment. But when this moment arrives, climbing in the Schöllenenschlucht transforms into an exceptional adventure."
Links: www.daniarnold.ch, Mammut, Petzl, La Sportiva, Victorinox