An obvious but forgotten objective, the 1100-meter north face of the
Scheideggwetterhorn (3361m) is a giant staircase that had fascinated me
and my brother, Julien, for years. From 1996-1998 we opened the first
twenty pitches of a new route, one we finally finished on July 31, 2004,
with Denis Burdet and Raphael “Gaston” Gassmann, after a week on
the wall. In total, some ten days of climbing were necessary, not
counting the portages.
2005 was the much-awaited year of the first free ascent. The original
climbers, accompanied by Toni Arbones and Sebastien
Guera, shared the enchainment of all the pitches, over a period
of three days.
The weather was capricious this year, so, with Denis (who was climbing
onsight), we enchained the lower pitches several days before the grand
After three days of climbing, July 15 and July 27-28, we climbed the
route entirely free. During the final assault, we hauled our gear to the
Czech Bivouac (Pitch 24) and divided up the difficult pitches. Denis
needed two tries to get the complex movements of “Full Gaz” (“Full Gas,”
Pitch 21, 7b+) and “Gypaete Barbu” (“Bearded Lammergeyer,” Pitch
25, 7c). The rest went on the first try, taking into account our
memories from the previous ascent. As I achieved the crack “Baston”
(Pitch 23, 7a+), I felt a sort of inner nirvana.
Topping out, we were weighed down by all the fatigue such a climb can
generate. But we also felt a joy very different from that of repeating
other climbers’ routes. The pleasure of climbing our own creation,
Baston la Baffe (7c, 34 pitches), was equal to our will and to the
suffering that characterized our experience. If some sections of the
route have a rare aesthetic quality, others are terribly demanding. We
now pass the story on to repeat ascensionists. The complete, one-day
enchainment, onsight and by the same person, we’ll leave to future
climbers–a damn-hard challenge.
Nicolas Zambetti and Denis Burdet, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland