When I went for my first Skitour of the 2018/2019 season at November 29 in Engelberg, I saw the nice icefalls in the Graustock northface and thought, what kind of lines there would be. 24 hours later I got a message of Jakob, if I wanna join him for the Stei-Route. He'd heard that the conditions are perfect at the moment. So I made a short google search about this route. Maximum WI3, that should be doable for me as an Iceclimbing newby. The route traverses the wall from right to left over several snowfields and Icefalls. Looks like a really nice combined north face.
There was no question, that we would approach with skis and carry them through the wall to ski down afterwards instead of walking all the way down. Were both are not big fans of using cablecars.
We started at 09:00 in the morning at the station of the cablecar and made our way up to the Trübsee-plateau. When we turned right to approach the wall the clouds slowly disappeared and gave us a clear view to the wall.
There wasn't that much snow and when we reached nearly the bottom of the wall we put the skis on the backpack and approached the rest of it in skiboots. At around 1850 meters we put the crampons on the boots while another party overtook us. There was already a track beaten, so the route finding wouldn't be a problem. The views over the the Hahnen were exceptional.
First we walked up a system of different ramps till we got to the steeper Icefall. We decided to go for a steeper line and make a belay. The ice was perfect. The ambience too.
After the icefall we followed another ramp slightly to the left till we got to a little bit steeper mixed passage (MI3). Due to the track we didn't have any problems to know where to go.
After this, a longer travers to the left leads you to the 60 meter Icefall which marks the most difficult part of ice climbing in the entire route. Due to the conditions this was just a pleasure.
The icefall is followed by a long traverse which leads, at times pretty exposed to a MI3 chimney passage which can be climbed easily. Before the chimney the terrain is up to 45 degrees steep. After having climbed the chimney the terrain gets less steep and after another mixed passage you reach the hidden colouir which offers great views and perfect conditions today.
After this the route is nearly done. The exit of the route is a long traverse over a snowband which leads you to the exit (and the sun) at 2500 meters above sea level. The views are great too.
The walk back down offers great views over to the Bernese alps and the Melchsee-frutt. At the Jochpass we put the skis on our feet and cruise down to Engelberg. What a great day out!
G E A R:
Lightweight skis and ski boot (Salomon X-Alp/Minim)
2 Iceaxes (Petzl Gully)
Camera (Canon 5d Mk IV and Canon 24-70mm f 2.8)
Hope you enjoyed this short report. If there are any questions, leave a comment below.