American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Europe, Switzerland, Galenstock, Southwest Pillar

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

Galenstock, Southwest Pillar. The Spaniard Pedro Casanellas and I were attracted by the unclimbed 1500-foot southwest pillar of the Gallenstock. The greatest difficulties lay on the lower half, some 700 feet of extraordinarily compact and overhanging granite. The upper half was a ridge with two marked towers which appeared less difficult. Between the two halves we noticed that it was possible to traverse on terraces to the upper Sidelin Glacier, where we could obtain water or retreat in case of bad weather. On August 17 we sweated our way up the moraine and Sidelin Glacier. With no real idea where to start the climb, Pedro straddled the Randkluft, placed a jam nut in a likely- looking crack and we were off. We climbed two pitches following cracks on the pillar and just before nightfall set up our hammocks. Early the next morning we started up a crack running directly up. Above was an overhanging dihedral with a good crack in it. In the next pitch we finally ran out of cracks. Pedro somehow placed a mediocre bolt while standing on slings and then placed a good bolt which enabled him to traverse into another crack. These were the only bolts used. I continued on and came to easier rock on which I could climb free. In the bivouac sack we realized we had completed a direct route on the lower half of the pillar. The four pitches on the second day had been too much for us; now without water, we spent the third day resting in the sun, collecting melt-water and setting up a comfortable bivouac, as well as cleaning the last pitch from the day before. That night it started to rain. The next morning, in a full fledged storm, we went back to the hut. On August 23 we took advantage of a break in the weather to rush back to the terrace and complete the upper half of the route, eleven pitches of enjoyable ridge climbing, generally UIAA Grade IV to V in difficulty. We named the route for Gabrielle Petazzi in honor of a friend killed by falling ice on Mont Blanc this spring.

PETER ZVENGROWSKI, Simians and Calgary Mountain Club.

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