Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Wilder Kaiser, 25th / 26th July 2009

The weather forecast delivered on its promise of showers for the northern side of the eastern Alps, and so Ingo Peter, Felix Lütkenherm and I spent much of the Saturday morning sitting in the Stripsenjochhaus eating Apfelstrudel, drinking coffee, and looking out of the window wondering when the rock would dry. Ingo thankfully had topos for some shorter routes not too far from the hut, and was motivated enough to get us out of the door again shortly before lunchtime, but even then we sheltered from another two showers and saw two other parties turn back before we got as far as the start of the Schneiderweg (V+, 5 pitches) on the Totenkirchl.Evening sun on the Fleischbank after a rainy day

The first pitch goes up an unproblematic grade IV corner before traversing right to a stance which, unusually for Austria, had no bolts and just one inconveniently placed rusty old peg. From here a short pitch leads up to a cramped stance jammed between a rock spike and the overhanging wall above. After this is where the fun starts. A rough crack leads diagonally upwards and leftwards around the overhang. Beneath the crack is a compact wall with smears for the feet, while above the crack the overhang pushes out. It is possible to get the right leg into the crack, and hope that the left foot sticks to the sloping toe holds beneath. This was my favourite pitch of the route, and would be worth going back for.
Felix Lütkenherm at the end of pitch 3 on the Schneiderweg on the Totenkirchl

The fourth pitch is a foot traverse with small and sometimes low handholds rightwards out over the overhang turned by the previous pitch. Rain had already been threatening as we finished the second pitch, and now as I came to the end of the rightwards traverse it arrived. The last few meters to the belay were not as difficult, and thankfully the shower was almost over again by the time Felix and Ingo joined me.The Stripsenjoch seen from the Totenkirchl

The last pitch was an unpleasant Wilder Kaiser chimney. This was not my first experience of these, and they are somehow unlike anything I have ever climbed in England or Wales. In its depths it was wet, polished, and not easy to protect, although there were some bolts and pegs in place. After first traversing left, then penduluming right, and first pulling then standing on a peg
before traversing left again, I had the most awful rope drag and for the last few meters could only stand up at all on both legs simultaneously. The pitch was graded V+, which is usually about VS, but this was more like VS for HVS climbers.

Crux pitch of the Christakante

On the Sunday we did the Christakante (V/A0, 10 pitches) on the Christaturm, next to the Ellmauer Tor at the top of the Steinerne Rinne. The weather turned out warm and sunny, the climbing was easy and pleasant, and we got to the top without event. The pitches varied between Diff and the lower end of VS, with three steep and very slippery meters of climbing being overcome by pulling on the bolts.

Ingo Peter and Felix Lütkenherm on the Christakante
On the summit of the Christaturm

Schüsselkarspitze, 11th / 12th July 2009

After several weekends in a row of really wet weather I was all too ready to read a little more into a slightly more optimistic weather forecast for the north side of the eastern Alps than turned out to be justified.

The Hohe Munde seen from the Schüsselkarspitze

Ingo Peter and I stayed in the Wangalm, on the south side of the Wetterstein, but after a cold rainy night we were not in a hurry to get started. By half past ten we were standing at the bottom of the Locker vom Hocker slab on the Schüsselkarspitze wondering at first where the Meßner / Sint route could go, and then, once we had excluded all other possibilities, whether the guidebook grade of VI+ could really be right. It was cold and misty, and after an hour and a half of sitting there shivering we gave up waiting for the weather to get better and went off to do the Leberle on the Scharnitzspitze.

The first three pitches of this were straightforward, but the fourth turned out to be good value for IV. As it was it started to rain and then to hail as Ingo seconded this pitch, and soon the rock was soaking wet. After a while the rain stopped and our friends Mario Senke and Felix Lütkenherm appeared below. However, after an hour of standing shivering at the belay the rock was showing no signs of getting any dryer, so we abbed and that was that.

Ingo Peter on the 4th pitch of the Leberle on the Scharnitzspitze

Sunday went even worse. Ingo and I didn't get anything done at all, although Mario and Felix got up the Leberle on the Scharnitzspitze. We bumped into Arnaud Richel and climbing partner who wanted to do a route called Steiler Zahn just to the right of the Meßner / Sint, although they didn't end up getting up that either.