Yannick Glatthard - Salbit

From vision into action

The Salbitschijen with its three ridges fascinates climbers far beyond the Swiss borders. For most, it is already a fulfilling achievement to tackle one of the three ridges in one day, especially the longest and most challenging one, which is the west ridge. In total, the ridges comprise around 70 pitches and over 1500 meters of climbing, stretching over steep towers and saddles in different directions. It is not surprising that historically the best climbers in the world compete with speed ascents of all ridges in one go.

In July 2023, Dani Arnold marked the most recent record of 9 hours and 36 minutes for climbing all three ridges. The accomplishment of the Swiss professional climber and mountain guide inspired Yannick Glatthard and Simon Wahli to test their skills on the same terrain. But they had the vision to accomplish it as a team.

“We knew from past climbs that as a team we do very well when it comes to efficiency and speed. The Salbit Trilogy was the perfect project to test these skills.”

Teamwork and tactics – the ingredients for success

Simon was acquainted with the area from his profession as a mountain guide and as climber. He had climbed the ridges several times both out of personal interest and guiding guests on these alpine classics. For Yannick the ridges were new and so they decided to engage in a dry run on 2nd and 3rd of October to explore whether a new time record as a team was realistic.

On Monday 2nd of October Simon and Yannick climbed the east ridge, rappelled over the south face, traversed to a saddle called “Zahnscharte” and climbed the upper part of the south ridge. Tuesday 3rd of October was dedicated to the Salbit west ridge. This one is the most demanding in terms of difficulty, length and technical requirements. Right afterwards, they climbed the lower part of the south ridge. For the most difficult climbing sections, the party decided on technique and strategy in advance with the ambition to simultaneously maximise speed and safety on the day of action.

After the dry run they both felt fully confident. The timing was perfect for valid reasons. October is typically a month when very few climbers engage on these long ridges. Furthermore, the weather forecast was stable, and both felt in shape and well up after the numerous climbing days throughout the summer and autumn.


Teamwork and tactics – the ingredients for success

Simon and Yannick hiked to the Salbit hut on October 5th with the intention to climb all three ridges the next day as fast as possible.


“In the hut everyone knew about our project, but nobody mentioned anything. And yet, we felt so much support and positive energy, that we could start our endeavour in the best possible conditions.”


The rope team left the hut at 7.55 am to tackle the west ridge first after a 40-minute ascent. They climbed the ridge with its six towers simultaneously and changed lead on the saddles. Anyone who has ever been on a ridge knows how much rope handling determines the make or break and ultimately the elapsed time. The tactic of simultaneous climbing with alternating lead climbing allowed them to move forward quickly and efficiently. When one was on the sharp end of the rope, navigating through the ridges, the other could recover mentally and just follow the climbing line.

After 1 hour and 52 minutes, they were already on the summit needle and were thus the first party ever to climb the ridge in less than 2 hours.


They rappelled quickly over the south face to reach the saddle of the south ridge called Zahnscharte. From there they had another two rappels and a short walk to the start of the second ridge. Again, they used the same tactic of simultaneous climbing, whereby Simon was in the lead up to the Zahnscharte and Yannick for the remaining pitches up to the summit needle. They left one rope on the top of the needle to save time as they would climb the east ridge without rope, except for the most difficult section. To climb the identical track as the record holder they went for the classic start of the ridge, located slightly higher than the direct one.

Towards the end of the east ridge, Yannick started to feel exhausted, while Simon knew he would have to give his best for the descent. The rope party leveraged their respective individual strengths on the very last mile through clever teamwork – Simon is faster running uphill, while Yannick is faster running downhill.


“If one of us felt exhausted, the energy of the other would lift him up. One of us was always fit and could motivate the other.”


At 13.48 Simon and Yannick were both back at the hut after an emotional run down the scree slopes. Happy to be back they made a selfie to record the time. They had climbed the three ridges in 5 hours and 53 minutes from the Salbit hut as start and finish, and hence had established a new speed record.


A top performance thanks to a long-standing friendship

Simon and Yannick emphasise that they would not have succeeded this project individually. From the idea to the implementation, they had discussed and planned everything together. For them, it was a team project from the very beginning.

The two have a long-standing friendship and had engaged already in numerous climbs in the past. They have known each other for 15 years and as teenagers were part of the same rock-climbing team. Later, they climbed their first routes together in the Wenden, such as “Elefantenohr” and “Jednicka”. They quickly realized that they complemented each other on mentally demanding routes and provided each other the necessary support. Together, they further engaged in highly demanding climbs in the Dolomites, such as the onsight ascent of “Weg durch den Fisch” at Marmolada within a day in wintertime or the crossing from east to west of the “Drei Zinnen”, likewise in wintertime.

Both emphasize that they feel mutually responsible, that they discipline each other while not exercising pressure. The team and the other’s safety always come first, not the individual performance. They can rely on and take full responsibility for each other.


Time and records are relative. They do not change the world. And yet the team spirit Simon and Yannick demonstrated on Salbitschijen is truly inspiring and reminds us that together we can achieve greatness.

Pictures: https://www.diegoschlaeppi.com