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Home Travel Sustenpass - 10th Anniversary

Sustenpass - 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, when there was money for nothing and chicks for free (and gas was 0,70 € per liter) we heard rumors about a great bouldering location high up in the Swiss alps.

[Stefan following pitch 15 on Another day in Paradise, 6b+, Piz Badile, Bergell in 2003]

Stefan and I were about to leave for Chamonix to try the Bonatti Pillar, but bad conditions forced us to stay in Switzerland and climb some multi-pitch in the Bergell. However, the Suetsnpass was close and sounded way too tempting not to be visited.


[Sending an unknown 7c+ traverse at Sustenpass in 2003]

Since we didn’t own any Crashpads anyway, it didn’t matter that we just had ropes and cams and no special equipment for bouldering. We really enjoyed those days up at the pass. All alone, no one else came to boulder.


[Good morning! Waking up at the pass - and putting the shoes out to dry.]


This time, Mel and I did bring a couple of Crashpads and it sure made the 5 days we spent at Sustenpass even more pleasant.
The first thing that just captures you when you arrive at the parking is the absolutely amazing setting. The following pictures are only a weak attempt to show the beauty of this place. I also just photographed and filmed a small selection of all the great problems we did.


[Mel doing the right version of the classic Propellerhead, 7a/+]

[What a scenery: Me flashing the Rot-Weiße Traverse, 7b]

[This one deserves a name! Still, it's just another nameless 6c...]

[Mel also attempting the Rot-Weiße Traverse, 7b]

[As I already wrote in The Secret Passage: If you're resting, might as well contribute to improve the landing zones of the area. Here you see me and the newly built mini-wall underneath the Rot-Weiße Traverse, 7b]

As you might have noticed by moving the cursor over the italic route names, there's also a short video of the above mentioned problems. Now we were warmed up to try some of the harder classics in this sector.

Anyway, the first boulder you notice as you walk away from your car at Sustenbrüggli is a Loskot problem called Traumland (= dream land). I don't think Klem opened that many problems at Sustenpass, but this one is really good! If you are not scared of heights (of have more pads than me) you can top out. It's then called "Warmduscher" graded 8a+.


[Climbing through the nicely colored overhang of Traumland, 8a with an amazing surrounding in the back]


There are quite many problems on this fairly big boulder, but one nice looking traverse also caught my attention. It starts at Traumland and heads rightward on great rock offering some powerful moves. It finishes at some obvious jugs. Apparently it's much harder if you do it right to left.

[Enjoying some afternoon sun during the flash of Traum-Braten Traverse, 7c]

[Looking across the valley from the Traumland boulder]

Quickly before it got dark we headed to another neat looking problem called Jokusuna, 7c. And again, nomen est omen: It really feels like wrestling as you compress the underclings at the start of this one...

[Jokusuna, 7c: short and stout]

With the little bit of skin that was left I went over to take a look at the Red Snapper bouldern and thought it was a good idea to try some of the shorter problems as there wasn't any light to see the high topouts anymore. One of those short problems is called Viagra. The original Viagra has an even lower start and is considered 8a/+. But this feels a lot harder than Fred Nicole's 8a+ right next to it. However, the Viagra Variation I tried instead is cool and quite powerful! Though it is 7c in the book all the locals told me it was 7c+. Aaah, I am again going on about grades. Guess I should shut up now.

[Pulling hard on the incut undercling in Viagra Variation, 7c+.]

Of course, the more climbers come to enjoy an area, the more likely it is to become commercialized in a way that camping and parking is no longer free. In some extreme cases like South Africa, even the bouldering costs 5 € a day. Still, the Pass seems to be one of the last resorts where you have great bouldering, an awesome setting and you can still sleep in the car without being chased away in the morning.

[Absolute silence: Midnight at Sustenpass]

[Almost absolutely silent: One car passing at midnight at Sustenpass]

[Warming up the fingers before heading to the boulders]

[Perfect landing zone, but Mel doesn't need it while flashing Kleines Dach, 6b+]

As you can guess by looking at the photo above, it was a bit too warm to try anything hard while the sun was still beating down at the boulders. So we decided to go for an easy start and then bring out the lights in the evening.

[Another nameless but really fun problem...]

[Mel on a pretty little 6a+]

[Changing sectors can be a bit challenging when you carry a heavy pad. Mel hopping across the creek...]

[... to reach Satansbraten, 6b at the Traumland-boulder]

[One time just isn't enough: Once again in the Rot-Weiße Traverse, 7b]

[In the last remaining light: 3-Fach Dyno, 7a+]

3-Fach Dyno is a really cool arête, that kinda looks like a serrated blade with three sharp teeth. As you keep your right hand on an undercling your left hand bumps up the slopy corner - three times as you might have guessed. The same boulder also offers a few easy lines and a really cool traverse, simply called Fred's Traverse, 8a. Not that hard to figure out which Fred they're talking about.

[This traverse literally makes you go sideways: Fred's Traverse, 8a]

[Another view of Fred's Traverse, 8a, while the sun slowly sets in the background]

[When all the others had already left we headed back to get my bouldering lights.]

The beautiful aspect about bouldering up here at night is that there is no light contamination and the starts are amazingly clear! Just an airplane with its remote noise an vapor-trail reminded us that we were still on earth. Though it didn't feel like it.

[Awesome moves but a kinda nasty rock at the back that makes the top-out a bit awkward: Marakesch, 8a]

[That's what I'm talking about: Moonlight on the mountains and the milky way clearly visible in the skies above.]


After doing Marakesch, 8a i thought I should try to capture the magic by shooting a little video that was showable on my site. So I set up the camera for my attempt at variation of the before mentioned problem called Marakesch-High. Though the book calls both of them 8a, I thought that this one was quite a bit easier than the original one. or maybe it was just the power of the stars that jumped across to me... who knows.

[Doing the Marakesch-High Variation, 8a on my second attempt.]

[After a long day bouldering until 2:00 a.m we really deserved our rest!]

Although we originally planned to stay for only 2 days we really couldn't imagine ever leaving this place. Even hiking on the rest days was so amazing! Check out this view!

[A rest day's hike up to Sustlihütte.]


However, after 4 days our paradise was disrupted by the forces of nature. Yep, that's life in the mountains. Blue skies and amazing views. But as you know this can change rapidly! Sooner than you know it the skies might darken and rain and wind might turn the so far cosy pick-nick into a cold and wet inferno. Having spent plenty of time in the Alps, Andes, rockies and Himalayas, I knew hot to interpret the signs and I also knew, that if I wanted to see the lower sector called Steingletscher it was time to get a move on!

[Signs of the warm "Fön"-wind, kicking up the temperatures to almost 25°C, but also bringing in the moisture]

[The last problem I could do before the rain chased us away: Wrestling Moamar, 7c (flash).]

[Really one of my favorite pictures: Not only because it's a flash in double meaning: Flashing Wrestling Moamar, 7c]


And one thing is sure: We will come back. And this time I wont' let another ten years pass!

[Panorama at Sustenpass.]


And, I almost forgot: King Size, 8a - the best problem up there! But that's a chapter on its own... (Link coming soon!)

[Flashing King Size, 8a (Link coming soon!). This line is a big "W.O.W."!]


Umfrage: your vision!