For some time now I wanted to extend the scope of my blog beyond technology and IT. Both are big parts of my life, but they aren’t my only interest. One of my main non tech hobbies is hiking and climbing which is the first topic of this little excursion away from computers. And what better way to start than with the highest summit I have reached so far?
The year is 2017 and my friend Clemens and I decided it was about time we made off to Tirol and attempt to climb Austrias second highest mountain.
So when the time came, we packed our things up and on August 12th we haded out to Tirol and took hotel rooms in Sölden, including a nice dinner, after we found an open restaurant that this, because you know, there aren’t many open ones during summer in skiing resorts…
Anyway, we found a little pizza place, got dinner and went straight to bed, the next day would be a hard one so getting a good night sleep was crucial.
We got up with the sun and drove to Vent, the little town we would start our ascend from, after we found a parking space we started out tour at 1895m above the Adriatic with our first target in mind, the “Breslauer Hütte” at 2844m where we would leave the better part of our equipment behind and head on only with lighter gear.
We thought we where in luck when we started, it was a nice and sunny day, the temperature was around 18ºC so neither too hot nor too cold, just perfect.
Here are a couple of impression on how our tour started:
When we reached the first destination, we got our sleeping places, left the heavier gear there, got a little to eat and went on, there where a another 1000m of hight to climb that day and a couple of clouds appeared so we wanted to get on as quickly as possible.
At that time the temperatures had climbed to about 29ºC so going on was a bit harder now, but that would not stop us!
On we went, next goal: the Mitterkarjoch, where we would step out onto the glacier and begin the final ascend.
This part of the journey is beyond 3000m for the most, so the scenery changed from the nice green surroundings to a grey and rocky one. But with the glacier fighting its loosing battle against the sun above many small rivers and lakes formed along the way which made for quite a view. Don’t believe me? Check it out yourself:
However with the changing scenery the weather changed as well and quickly. From almost 30ºC temps dropped down to -5ºC and clouds rolled in. The Mitterkarjoch was a good 400m of hight away not to speak of the final ascend after that. We now had to make a decision, keep going and hope the weather would not turn to rain/snow or take the safe approach and turn back. If we kept on, this could become rather nasty. Bad weather in the higher alps is a very bad thing to be in, the rocks get slippery, you mostly walk within the clouds which translates to heavy fog and thus there is almost no sight. Combine that with drops of over 800m down and you got yourself a life threatening situation.
We sat down near a couple of “Stoamoandle”, stone man, which hikers build to find their way back and talked our options out. Also we watched the development of the weather closely. I took a couple of pictures of the clouds rolling in and also Clemens took one of me wearing everything I got with me to fight the cold and drinking hot tea mid summer:
We finally decided on pushing on, always with one eye on the sky and would turn back the second it got worse.
The weather did get better, even if not warmer, however once we reached the Mitterkarjoch, we found something unexpected. We both did expect to get through there on a normal trail, but we faced a long part of rock climbing. And we came unprepared.
Usually in a situation like that you would secure yourself to the steel ropes so you don’t drop if you slip, but we lacked that gear. We judged it to be a category A, C at most, trail and with both of us being experience climbers we took the second risk on that tour and went ahead again.
Mid within the climb we got blocked by a guided tour of tourists, not going to say where they where from, but a country directly to the north of us, who not only ignored the common rule of letting those in ascend pass, but also blocked our climb in order to take a couple of selfies, which might have let to me losing my calm for a second. After that little scene we reached the Mitterkarjoch and stepped out onto the glacier. And what a sight to behold.
In this last gallery you see the glacier leading up to the Wildspitze, my friend Clemens and also the next danger crevasses. But this we came prepared for, climbing irons on the shoes, roped in (not on that one picture of Clemens) and ice pick in hand we went on.
Around the middle of the glacier Clemens gave up, and decided to return to the Mitterkarjoch and wait there, so I pressed on alone. Summit in sight
The trail over the glacier was well stepped out, so the danger of crevasses was not too high and I was not to give up so close to my goal.
Those last view meters did cost a lot of energy but I am happy to report, I made it.
3768m above the Adriatic I reached the summit. In good weather conditions from up hear only the curvature of the earth limits your sight as there is nothing remotely as high as this mountain near by.
I hover was not allowed that sight, but you can’t have everything. Also due to the bad weather before everyone else in their right minds turned back so I got the summit to myself.
Anyway, here you go, final ascend, summit and the view from there:
I enjoyed that moment up there for a couple of minutes and started the descend, picked up Clemens at the Mitterkarjoch and we both returned safely to the “Breslauer Hütte” where we barely made dinner and slept the sleep of the very tired.
Next day the weather threatened us again, but we where not going to try our luck twice, so we made for a quick decent and got ourselves hotel rooms in Sölden again. Naturally, we could have tried our luck, as when we reached the hotel, every cloud was gone and the sun was out again. But that’s life I guess.
Anyway, this is it, my highest mountain so far, a beautiful tour in a stunning environment and a couple of decisions I would not be making again today.
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