Stairway to the Stars

Squeezing up Stairway to the Stars in Breitwangfluh

John Thornthon (Go Vertical Athlet)

Nestled within the serene beauty of the Swiss Alps, the mixed climbing route known as “Stairway
to the Stars” in Breitwangfluh offers a challenging but rewarding ascent.

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© John Thornthon

Breitwangfluh, located near Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, is renowned for its challenging ice climbing routes. The mixed climbing route, Stairway to the Stars, in the right corner of Breitwangfluh, offers an ambient experience through its steep, narrow couloir. Since its first ascent in 1999 by Stephan Siegrist and Robert Jasper, it has perhaps become one of the favourites of this wall. At 250m height and with difficulties up to M6 WI5+, myself and climbing partner Lulu Deubzer, were eager to find out why.

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© John Thornthon

Being a mixed climbing route it requires skills on rock and ice, but unlike others of its genre, a certain ability to squeeze through narrow spaces. Fortunately for us, we hadn’t eaten too much Fondue the night before and could squeeze our way through the tight sections of the couloir, unhindered and unscarred.

The higher up we climbed, the more we realised how favourable the conditions were. With good ice throughout (where usually challenging mixed climbing is required) we could relax, take our time and enjoy the ambience of this stellar route.

Approaching the final easier pitches it began to get dark. Much to my surprise it was already 4pm! Perhaps we’d relaxed a little too much. With that in mind, Lulu set off and made one long pitch, approximately 80m length, to get us to the final step of the stairway. Topping out satisfied but later than expected, we wasted no time beginning our descent. With our head torches lighting the way, we quickly but calmly made our way back down.

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© Luisa Deubzer

Stairway to the Stars really is a brilliant route. For those who like scratching up rock between incredible sections of ice, and squeezing through tight spaces only adds to your fun, then look no further! With its stunning location, and technical difficulty, I can see why this, among many other routes at Breitwangfluh, are some of the best in Switzerland.

Photos by Lulu Deubzer & John Thornthon.

Climbed on 16th January 2023 and does not represent current conditions.

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Publish date:
Februar 23, 2024
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