Silvan Schüpbach, Peter von Känel and Rolf Zurbrügg have made the first ascent on the West face of Rottalhorn.
Schüpbach used his Social Media to describe their epic journey up and down the 3,971m peak in the Alps;
Who would have thought that in 2023 there would still be unclimbed walls in the high mountains of the Bernese Oberland? In the golden age of alpinism, the peaks of the Alps were first climbed. Later, all the walls and ridges of the great mountains were climbed by people for the first time. Whether it was the first ascent of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn or the first ascent of the north face of the Eiger, people always spoke of the “last problem of the Alps”. In fact, you can still find challenges in traditional alpinism today – beyond speed records and absurd media spectacles. A good example is the west face of the Rottalhorn. For some unknown reason, it has remained untouched until today.
15 years ago, I noticed the 1000 meter high west face of the Rottalhorn for the first time. Although it is somewhat hidden in the Rottal, it is the first rock bastion that catches your eye when you reach the Rottalhütte.
In August 2011, I tried to climb the wall together with Matteo Della Bordella. However, an approaching thunderstorm made us turn back.
After many expeditions around the world, I have now realized that projects on our doorstep can be just as beautiful as exotic destinations.
With Peter and Rolf I have the perfect partners at my side to give it another go. On October 11, we ascend to the Rottalhütte and the next day we climb in. The first three hours we climb in the light of the headlamp on the pillar system in the lower wall.
We do not follow any specific line, the difficulties are – except for two pitches around 6a – in the third to fifth degree of difficulty.
With the first light of day, we reach the gray steep rockband, where the rock changes from gneiss to limestone. Two steep and demanding pitches in the 6b range lead us to the huge pillar, which leads imposingly to the summit roof. From here, the route continues again in gneiss. There is no clear line at this pillar either. We follow our nose and, in case of doubt, choose the more demanding variant with better rock. Faster than expected we reach the summit in the early afternoon and a good 11 hours after setting off we are on the Jungfraujoch. What a contrast as we walk to the train station surrounded by advertising screens and selfie sticks after the tranquility and wild beauty of the Rottal.
Nevertheless, we are glad that we can comfortably descend the many meters in altitude by train!
Great work guys!