In February, Alex Luger and Hanno Schluge, climbed two new winter routes in Switzerland's Val Ferrera. Initially, the pair climbed The Winners Lose it All Some Day (WI5 M6 X/300 m) after spotting a "crazy looking yellow ice formation hanging from a big overhang just opposite the small village of Ausserferrera".
Alex said: "It's hard to recommend the route because of its very loose rock flakes on the traverse pitch. So it's maybe a good adventure for lovers of the loose."
He describes the route as: "The first 200m are easy mixed terrain on snow, rock and some vegetation. Then we climbed a traverse to the left that was very loose and overhanging with almost no protection. We climbed this traverse in a big 80 metre pitch. Then the rock got little better and we continued over huge blocks stacked together to reach the start of the ice. We climbed the yellow hanging icicles in one pitch with moderate difficulty."
A couple of weeks later, to the right of the previous route, they climbed Piece of Mind (WI5+/ M6 250m). Having good ice and mixed climbing on solid granite, high above the Val Fererra, this one comes with a recommendation. However, it wasn't without incident when Hanno took a big whipper.
Alex thought it was a bit too close for comfort. "We had luck that both of us stayed unharmed. After this wake up call there was still enough ice so that we could climb the pitch. Followed by a moderate mixed pitch we reached the hanging icicles which we thought would be the crux of this first ascent but with some bouldery moves on nice granite we reached the ice and topped out."
Alex is keen to stress that no fixed gear was used on either route.
More recently, Alex and Hanno climbed the Dru North Couloir Direct. You can follow Alex's adventures on his blog.