MedjiValais East, SWITZERLAND
Climbs 26 – Rocktype Gneiss – Altitude 1521m – Faces E
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Medji lies above the village of St Niklaus just up the Matter valley in Switzerland, which sees many climbers speed up it's winding road on their way to the Matterhorn. And although Medji lacks that iconic Toblerone triangle look that has made the Matterhorn so famous, at least it isn't a crumbling pile of choss...!
In fact the fast-drying gneiss crag of Medji is a collection of cracks and corners, between 1 and 3 pitches high, with absolutely bomb-proof rock, perfect splitter cracks and plentiful bolts. It's bloody brilliant.
The grades are in general quite forgiving and the style of climbing suits the British approach; rests are common, bridging and jamming are the keys to success here, and even the few harder routes in the mid 7th grade offer technical rather than pumpy climbing.
The hike to the crag is around 20-30 minutes of uphill slog, but the path is good, easy to follow, quick underfoot and serves as a good warm-up. The base of the crag is flat, tree-lined, simple to navigate around and comfortable. The routes are multipitch, but the belays are often on good ledges and are equipped with double bolts and rings, making abseil descents super-speedy. What we have here is very convenient bolted crack and corner climbing at its best.
Medji starts to come properly in to the shade just a little after noon, but the corner systems of the crag mean that a lot of the routes come in to the shade even earlier. This makes Medji a good spring, summer and autumn crag, and an ideal stopping point for those with Matterhorn ambitions or for those who have been shunned from the mountains due to poor weather. For reference, Medji lies only two hours from Chamonix and is but a stone's throw from Tasche, which is where you take the train to Zermatt and the Matterhorn.
Virtually all of Medji's routes are fully bolted, however there are around three routes that require some gear. A small selection of nuts and a few finger to hand sized cams would see you right for these though, a large rack isn't needed. We climbed on a single 80m sport rope, which was easily long enough for the abseil descents. A single 70m would also be fine, and double ropes would work too.
Medji isn't a huge crag, there are around 25 routes in total, but they are all excellent. There is a spread of grades ranging from around 6a+ to 7c, but most of the routes are around 6b to 7a+ in standard and involve bridging and jamming.
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