Foto Speedy Füllemann
Climbing | Salbit Westridge
mighty, wild, bold
In our opinion, the Salbit Westridge is one of the best classic climbing routes in the alpine region, if not worldwide. A more than a thousand meters of climbing and 36 pitches long, spicy alpine trip over six towers that rise from a sea of granite. Grippy rock, consistently good, mostly the best rock quality, bold lines along cracks, flakes, edges and chimneys make climbing on the Salbit a special experience. Even the slabby parts offer generous, sometimes bizarre structures.
The Salbitschijen west ridge is long. It requires very safe and efficient climbing in grades 5 and 6, especially in classic terrain with cracks and chimneys. In addition, some sections up to grade 6b must be climbed. This can be mastered A0, but those who are not above these difficulties will have a hard time on the Salbitschijen Westgrat.
Fortunately, the tour has remained alpine. It has exposed passages and requires safe handling of mobile belay devices, efficient rope handling and advanced route finding skills. Even for the local mountain guides, the Salbit Westgrat is one of the most demanding, but also the most rewarding tours in the Uri Alps. In short: a demanding and absolute highlight for every experienced alpinist who enjoys classic climbing tours, alone or accompanied by a mountain guide.
NZZ article on Salbitschijen, including Salbit Südgrat
SRF contribution to the new Salbit Bridge
Karte Salbitschijen | Rot eingezeichnet: ungefährer Zustieg zum Biwak und Abstieg vom Gipfel. Der Zustieg zur Salbithütte und zum Einstieg verläuft über den eingezeichneten Wanderweg.
Approach - Salbit Westridge
If you want to extend a very long day, you can basically climb the Salbit Westgrat in one day, from valley to valley. The vast majority, and this is recommended hikes up to the Salbit hut or biwak on the eve, enjoys the evening atmosphere in the mountains, admires the granite giant and gets ready for a big day, either with anticipation, with their "Sh ... in the pants ”or with a mysterious mixture of these two, which can sometimes make these activities especially attractive.
The ascent to the Salbit bivouac leads from the Voralp curve via Voralp and Spicherribiechelen in less than 2.5 hours to the bivouac. In the Chelen you will find pathless terrain, partially reinforced with steel cables. This approach is exposed and one is partially defenseless from everything that comes from above. Often there is snow until early summer, which may require the use of an ice axe and even crampons, but at least good footwear is essential. You don't want to drag this heavy material over the 6 granite towers of the Salbitschijen west ridge. The bivouac is equipped with 10 beds including blankets and simple cooking equipment (gas cooker, pans, etc.). Half-empty gas cartridges are often found on site. If you want to be sure, bring your own. Water, on the other hand, is scarce here and you can usually only find it in early summer in the immediate vicinity of the bivouac.
However, it is recommended to take the approach via the Salbit hut. The path leads along a safe hiking trail and takes about one and a half hours from the Göschenertal to the hut and another hour over the new Salbit bridge to the start of the Salbit West Ridge. The hut keeper Richi and his team not only provide excellent food, but also inspire the Salbit hut with their friendly and cordial nature. In addition, the descent from the Salbit leads directly past the hut, which is why you can deposit any equipment you don't need here.
Tower I - Salbit West Ridge
The start of the Salbitschijen Westgrat is a few minutes' walk above the bivouac, obviously on a small pedestal, which can be reached via a short couloir. Starting early is not only worthwhile because of the 36 pitches in front of you, traffic jams are also common when there are several rope teams at the start. The first rope length, at 6b nominally the most difficult of the whole route does not run easily for everyone in the early morning. The climbing, however, is first class. You can find some bolts and can easily place additional gear. After the second, also very rewarding length, the terrain becomes easier. From here you can climb safely and especially quickly synchronously with the correct use of a backstop (Microtraxion, T-Bloc or similar). Simple, generous climbing terrain alternates with a few cruxes up to 5b and also short grassy ramps. At the end of pitch 5 you shouldn't miss the branch to the right to the belay. The terrain can easily tempt you to climb straight up here. However, the Salbit Westgrat Topo from Filidor is very precise here. The last pitch, rated 6a, again features an exciting crux. On Tower I you then cross somewhat confusing, first behind a block and further on the ridge to the first abseiling point. After the first abseiling, you simply climb down, cross and climb another 5m to the second abseiling point, which is a bit hidden, lower right than you would suspect and therefore is easily missed.
Tower II - Salbit West Ridge
The obvious crackline along tower 2 can be seen prominently from the first tower. This sight creates anticipation, but also respect. The first length, almost 50m, goes briskly and you gain height quickly. The second length, the well-known wooden wedge pitch, is one of the best that the Salbitschijen Westgrat has in store. An impressive crack, flanked by insane granite structures that you won't find anywhere else. And this in a wild, alpine environment, simply great. The climber's heart beats faster here. You always follow the crack. The crack widens at the top until off-fist. There is even a sweat here, but fans of wide cracks will be happy. Here you can use a Camalot No. 3. If you feel comfortable in wide cracks, you can get through without it and can tie off the old wooden wedges, because the number 3 cam is not necessary anywhere else. When you arrive at the comfortable belay, you can't help but smile broadly: a great length behind, a sea of granite and the impressive mountains around you.
The following lengths to tower II are again easier and lead to the spacious, flat summit plateau, quasi the breakfast area of the Salbitschijen Westgrat. This should be reached in about 5 hours. Here you have a little less than half behind.
Tower II houses numerous independent climbing routes on its south side, such as the famous Via Hammerbruch, GKG, KGB and what they are all called. You can use them to abseil, e.g. when a thunderstorm approaches or time runs out. A later retreat would have to take place on the badly equipped abseiling slopes in the notches. If you continue climbing on the Salbitschijen Wesridge, you first abseil from tower II 10 and then another 50m into the notch. The information in Filidor's Salbit Westgrat Topo is correct here.
Tower III - Salbit Westgrat
Tower III is less pronounced than the others, climbing is usually easy and you traverse almost more than you climb upwards. In the middle there is a small wall against which you have to put on properly. Many climbers are on the west ridge anyway in the "forward-forward" mode and will spontaneously pull the bolts here, which works well. However, the crux can also be climbed freely, albeit more 6a ++. A jagged belay, two simple pitches and 40m abseiling later you are already in the next notch.
Tower IV - Salbit Westridge
Wonderful climbing meters in the first, a demanding, again A0 manageable single crux in the second and an exciting chimney in the third rope length await you here. The latter is often described as a maltreat chimney. Ultimately, it depends primarily on your own technique, whether it is experienced as a pleasure or more of a drag. In any case, it has good structures, where hands and feet find holds for climbing. It is still tight and some people like to hang the backpack on the belt.
In the last pitch you climb again on large, grippy structures in great, steep climbing on the north side of tower IV, whereby the highest point is bypassed to the left. A belay on the right shows that some rope teams were tempted too far to the right. The Salbit Westgrat Topo from Filidor is also correct here. From here you can rappel down to the north in 45 meters to the Hotel Salbit. This is probably the only bivouac place on the Salbitschijen Westgrat that is protected from rain, but it is very cool, shady and inhospitable. There are reports of rope teams that have not been able to pull their rope here, although the smooth rock does not indicate this danger. You definitely don't want to have a rope jam here, so pay attention.
Tower V - Salbit West Ridge
From the end of the rappel, the next, simple pitch leads through a dihedral up to the actual notch between tower IV and V. From here the course of the route is not obvious. The Salbit Westgrat Topo does not provide any precise information here either. You climb towards a piton on the edge and cross over to the right and straight up. A demanding 4c. Maybe they were just stronger in the old days... On this pitch you may have to touch some rock of moderate quality. But this is to be forgiven, since on the remaining thousand meters of climbing you can find almost entirely flawless Urner granite. A simple traverse follows and then length 29. The course again is not obvious here. You traverse and downclimb for 5-10 meters on small but good structures and then more or less vertically upwards to a first piton, which is difficult to spot. From here the course is obvious again and you can reach tower V in a another great pitch.
Tower VI - Salbit West Ridge
After the short abseiler and a simple cross walk, you stand in front of the last tower, which comes up with the well-known pendulum. The first climber is lowered, the fixed rope in the belay helps, swings to the right and climbs up the simple crack. In order to prevent rope drag and to dampen the pendulum of the climber who follows, you should place gear only further up in the crack. The terrain is simple and allows this. The bolt ladder follows. This section is graded 7a if freed, but looks more like 7c. This pitch is hardly ever climbed freely. Even local mountain guides, who know the Salbit Westgrat by heart, prefer pulling on the bolts here. Understandable, after 32 pitches. And even A0 you have to stretch quite a bit. People under 1.70m will probably like to use a step loop. This is followed by another highlight on the Salbitschijen Westgrat. A dreamy, exposed edge. WOW! A line that is second to none. If you look back at the belay, the mighty towers in the background, you will be amazed and the camera is intuitively reached. This is probably one of the most photogenic perspectives on the entire Salbit West Ridge. The bolt ladder and edge can be climbed in one good pitch, but in the middle there is an old belay, as correctly noted in the Salbit Westgrat Topo.
After the edge, the topo suggests climbing further to the left. Intuitively, however, you cross over to the right and follow a crack dihedral, which leads back to the ridge (approx. 5c). Both variants are worthwhile and join each other again. The Salbitschijen Westgrat can be climbed again and again due to its class, so variants are welcome. There follows a short upswing, some block and scrambling terrain and you are already standing under the needle that proudly stands above the summit of the Salbitschijen, where the west, east and Salbit south ridges meet. Climbing the summit needle is definitely worth it, on the one hand because of the exciting climbing on the exposed edge, and on the other hand for the rewarding photo. The easiest way to climb it is one at a time. Whether you climb it or not, there is definitely a well-deserved high fives here. Anyone who has climbed the Salbitschijen Westgrat up to here can feel joy and pride and is sure to take an unforgettable day home with him.
The descent from the Salbit initially leads along the east ridge, is marked, often reinforced with steel cables in the upper part and poses no particular difficulties. Only the steep snow fields, which make you slide down, have to be critically examined. Whoever breaks in here and is washed under the snow field has very bad cards. After about an hour, the Salbit hut invites you to a stop before taking the last steep meters into the valley under your feet. Many trained mountain guides have already caught the legendary “Regliberg muscle soreness” in their thighs on this descent.
Strategy and materials - Salbitschijen Westgrat
Basically you climb the Salbit Westgrat with a 50m double rope. One option is climbing with a 50m single rope. This makes rope handling easier and, for advanced users, synchronous climbing with TBlocs or similar possible in simple terrain. An absolute prerequisite for the latter is a mastery of the difficulties and correct application of this technique. For the long abseilers you need a 50m rapline, but a thin half rope is better, since this tends to get stuck less when pulling down. Further:
10 quickdraws, also extendable ones
a set of Camalots C4 0.3-3
Stopers can be accommodated, but are optional
Sling material, carabiner, tool for abseiling
possibly 2-3 backstops (microtraxion, TBloc or similar)
Salbit Westgrat Topo
The best Salbit Westgrat Topo can be found in the “Switzerland Extreme East” guide (2013) and the Salbit guide “Salbit erleben” - both from Filidor-Verlag. They are very much the same. The latter Salbit Westgrat Topo describes the route in more detail and the individual bolts are depicted in this topo. The latter also describes the entire area and contains the Topo Salbit Südgrat, Salbit Ostgrat and many excellent tours on the Salbitschijen Westgrat towers such as the Via Hammerbruch, GKB, Härzbaragge, Salbitissmia or the Villiger pier on the Zwilingsturm.
Salbit Westgrat booking
Would you like to take the Salbit West Ridge or another mountain tour? To book us, you have 2 Options.
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Costs from CHF 390.- per person and day
Max. 2 persons
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Costs CHF 1390.- for Salbit Westridge for one person