80 Pitches, 45 Hours of Climbing: Another Great Winter Enchainment in the Alps

There’s a reason that enchainments have become one of the coolest things in mountaineering: They’re pretty freaking hard.

That truth feels self-evident in the latest Alps accomplishment from Swiss alpinists Michi Wohlleben and Luka Hinterberger, who pulled off an impressive three-peak linkup last month.

Over two long and grueling days, the pair finished their second attempt at climbing all three ridges of Salbitschijen (2,985m), located in the Uri Alps. Throughout Feb. 15-16, they eventually succeeded after 45 hours of alpine adventure.

Judging from Wohlleben’s excited commentary on Instagram this week, it was an expedition any climber would envy.

“Throughout the approximately 80 pitches, we found everything you are looking for as a climber: a lot of perfect rock, often covered by snow, ice or humidity, disgusting avalanche slopes and an incredible amount of challenging terrain,” Wohlleben wrote. “Last year, we got our asses kicked but this year, our dreams got reality.”

Wohlleben and Hinterberger started on the mountain’s South Ridge, mostly climbing at night. It would be the most intensive task of the trip. By the time they rappelled back down and set up a bivouac, they had completed 40 pitches in 20 hours of work.

When they woke up, they walked to the west ridge and knocked it out, reaching Salbitschijen’s peak for the second time. Then, they neatly wrapped everything up with an ascent of the east ridge.

Both climbers have been hard at work the last few seasons, attempting new projects at the frontiers of modern alpinism.

Last year, Wohlleben established Bodhichitta, a multi-pitch sport route that he claimed was one of the most technically difficult climbs in the Alps. As for Hinterberger, he’s gone questing for unclimbed Patagonian peaks with none other than Stephan Siegrist.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.