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.