Tuesday, 12 September 2017


Views from the Fiz

Our hopes of climbing at the Ratikon were quickly dashed by terrible weather on arriving in Switzerland. We could have waited it out for a week, but talked ourselves into driving to Chamonix where we could be indoors and Calum could thrash us at table tennis. After the weather improved, rather than drive back to Switzerland, we decided to check out the climbing on the Rochers de Fiz. I’d been once before, with Calum, when we’d attempted Les Yeux Dans le Bleu and retreated at about two thirds height due to problems with our forearms. This time around we had in our sights an even harder route, but with Angus as rope-gun felt we should have a good chance.

The Fiz isn’t well known amongst British climbers as far as I can tell, or not compared with cliffs such as Wendenstock or the Ratikon. There aren’t as many routes, but the climbing is of similar style and length. It’s a long hike to reach the cliffs followed by a couple of hundred meters of choss. But once the climbing starts the rock is perfect, compact blue limestone and generally slabby or vertical. We had come to try Biografiz, a 9 pitch route up to 8a in difficulty with 7 pitches of 7b+ or harder, that I doubt has seen many ascents.

The first pitch is a monster 55 meters, 7c+ and very run out that felt more like an E7 than a day out sport climbing. The technical style and apparent absence of holds also makes route finding very challenging. Angus went up this pitch bolt to bolt slowly unearthing the holds taking nearly 3 hours, an effort he described as one of his best. I was impressed and relieved, if it had been me our attempt might have ended there! The pitches after this are slightly better bolted and brilliant. The climbing is never desperate but constantly technical and very fingery.

We spent a couple of days reccying the lower pitches before attempting the whole route in a day. We had a great time climbing the 7c+, 7b+, 7c and 8a pitches we’d been on before. This was followed by a bouldery 7b+ that we didn’t on-sight. At the top of this, awkwardly perched on a lump of grass, we contemplated our arms. It had gone well, but the sustained crimping had toasted our forearms and we didn’t have enough left for the pitches still to come. Descending, I had the opportunity to pass another piece of climbing wisdom to Angus, the rope bomb. I believe he was impressed, and neither of us could think of a more efficient way of putting kinks into a rope.

Biografiz was bolted ground up and is a seriously impressive route, a classic of its type. This was my second time making it halfway up the Fiz, next year I hope to make it to the top.

P2, 7b+
P4, 8a
The Rope Bomb!

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