Category Archives: Wilder Kaiser

Apus la Strisjochhaus

The Fiechtl route in the Totenkirchl Sockel, Wilder Kaiser

We sleep late today, as the weather seems to be nice for the following week and as we don’t plan any epic routes for today. And so we spent a pleasant lazy morning in the bunk beds from Stripsenjochhaus, before we finally set out around 9 for today’s route, the  Fiechtl route, a 5+ 11 pitch route from the Totenkirchl Sockel.

I should say that during the 3 days spent at the Stripsenjochhaus hut we felt really at home, even though we were probably the only ones eating out our own bags. The hut is in a brilliant spot, and it’s one of the only huts which isn’t on a peak, but which still allows to watch both the sunrise and the sunset.

The Sockel has the advantage that it starts a bit lower and the routes end somewhere half-way up the Totenkirchl, so that the descent is a lot quicker. Also on the other hand the route has quite a few V, and V+ pitches so I’m sure there will be plenty of climbing.

After reaching the entry to the route, we start discovering the pitches of the route. And so we climb on an exposed traverse with good holds, followed by a small overhang and by some not so interesting pitches up to the middle of the wall. However the most adventurous part of route came just at the end, with an epic 60m chimney which didn’t seem quite that easy.

Even though my chimney technique isn’t the best, I think that the Wilder Kaiser pioneers were really good at it, and usually all the pitches which contained chimneys seemed harder than their rating. And I really had to fight a bit on the chimney, because it was relatively holdless, and a bit wet, and a bit overhanging,and with bolts each 10 meters. All these were more than enough to convince me to remain squeezed inside the chimney and to avoid climbing it on the outside. There is a certain safety given by the fact that you know that if you expand yourself a bit you’re not going to fall from the chimney. Near the end the chimney ended with a serious overhang, but the route avoided it just in the last moment.

After the 60 meters my skin was completely scratched, and reached the conclusion that climbing chimneys in shorts and a t-shirt might not be the best idea. Either way, I really recommend the route, which has as an added bonus a quick and pleasant descent.

After we got back to the hut, with the energy which I had left I dash to the car to fetch my DSLR hoping for a spectacular sunset. After a short evening run and a fast climb, we reach the 1800 meter peak behind Stripsenjochhaus just in time for some nice pics. We have the small shelter on the top all to ourselves, and we watch a weather front coming in from the west. Tomorrow we’re finally going to take a break after 3 climbing days.

 

High up on the Sockel

Mihaela on the epic chimney at the end of the route.

Almost up.

Even though the scratches aren’t really clear, it does show that for me climbing is a really physical experience.

Ravens soaring high.

Taking the D600 for a walk.

The view from Stripsenjochhaus

And the rushed sunset.

Wilder Kaiser.

Window view

Pe langa Fritz-Pflaum Huette

Trekking to Fritz-Pflaum huette, Wilder Kaiser day 5

We wake up early in the morning, and after finishing all the food we had heft we say goodbye from Strisenjochhaus for a while, and we start down towards the parking place. After two days with a lot of climbing our bodies which are used to 20-30m walls ask for a break, so that we’re going to fill the partly rainy day with a trekking route.

A bit of diversity is always good, and it’s a good opportunity to play a bit with my DSLR camera. In the past two days I rediscovered the same frustration which I have with climbing photos, and more specifically that it’s almost impossible to get some interesting shots while climbing. First of all because usually because you are tied to the wall and you cannot move freely to compose a shot, secondly because your climbing problem usually has the same problem.

You can get some interesting shots sometimes, but that needs to turn into the main target, and you need to wait for the perfect light in the perfect moment in the perfect place. While exploring a mountain or  a route for the first time the changes that all the above things happen are really small though, as you’re usually in hurry. At best you get pics which mean something for climbers, like “nice crack”, or “what a roof”, but for non-climbers they make no sense.

But for today I shouldn’t worry about this, and with my D600 on my shoulder we start of on the steep trail which leads to Fritz-Pflaum hut. The light isn’t the best for photos, and even though the sun is mostly hidden by clouds the air is incredibly hot and still.

After almost 1000m of altitude we find the same barren landscape which can be found in the upper part of Wilder Kaiser, a glacier plateau surrounded by rocky ridges, and with faint  paths which can bee seen crossing these ridges from place to place.

We miss the peak we wanted to climb today, but we only the empty landscape, and we reach one of the most isolated huts in Wilder Kaiser, the Fritz-Pflaum hut. It’s only open during the weekend, but if you’re a member of an alpine club you can get the key to hut from an association. The place where the hut is is truly wonderfull, looking on the east wall of Predigstuhl upon a 600 meter wall.

We spend almost an hour near the hut, as the place deserves a long break. And today we’re not in a hurry. Tomorrow on the other hand we want to try Via Classica, a 15 pitch route in the west wall of the Fleischbank, about which Mihaela thinks that it’s going to bee too much for as that we’re going to have an epic struggle on the route.

 

After getting some food for the following days and a hard summer stor we get back to the parking place from Grisner Alm. We name this place the climbing hobo parking place, as it’s almost full with climbers, a bit hidden from the main parking place, with the walls of Wilder Kaiser high above.

During the weekend it’s full with old Volkswagen vans, with the sound of clinking carabieners, and faces happy from the route of the previous day. I honestly feel better here than in any camping, where you have your tent spot between motorhomes and between retired people drinking their morning coffe.

 

Begging a a cloudy day, with a last photo at Stripsenjochhaus.

Stone litte man as they are called in german.

Up between the rock ridges.

Fritz-Pflaum Huette.

The perfect photo place.

IIn the hobo climber parking place.

Via Classica, Fleischbank

Via Classica from Fleischbank, Wilder Kaiser, day 6

This was the day when Mihaela was completely conviced that we’re going to spend a day and a night on the route, the we’re going to spend ages getting down from the mountain and other doomsday scenarios. At the same time in the previous days I saw that if we set our minds to it we can be decently fast on comparable routes, and I was pretty sure that the route is really worth it. In Romania it’s not every day that you get the chance to climb 15 length 600m route on good rock.

 At the same time coming from Romania, the experience of alpinism and of climbing in general is a solitary one. We don’t like a crowded rock face, or sharing the same belay with more than one team, with all the entangled ropes which come with the entire experience. Maybe it has something to do with Romania, where currently climbing doesn’t have the same popularity as in other western countries (one could also say that there was a downfall in it’s popularity after the 80s).

Either way, in Wilder Kaiser, as well as in other parts of the Alps, in a normal route people start around 8, maybe a bit earlier for the long routes. So if you want to be a alone, you need to start either really early or rather late (the later options means that you need to move fast). During weekdays in Wilder Kaiser that tends to be a minor issue, but on weekend it can become problematic.

 
Taking advantage of Mihaela’s doomsday predictions we manage to get up with the sunrise and around  5:30 we leave the parking place towards the Westwall from Fleischbank. We start with the same climb towards Stripsenjochhaus, and it’s interesting to think that so many figures in the history of alpinism have stepped on the same road, on the same rock in another century. Different people, different times but perhaps the same dreams and the same enjoyment of spending time in the mountains.

We get to the start of the route, between the wall and a snow slope, and we start to move quickly on the first easy pitches, gaining altitude fast. If it’s one thing which I dislike about alpinism, is the feeling of being tied to the wall when the difficulty increases and when you start moving slowly on the wall. But today, on Via Classica the difficulty of the pitches (all bellow a classical V) enabels us to move fast, and it’s really  a nice feeling. If training in a gym has benefits, one of them is that it enables you to move fast on harder and arguably nicer routes. But on the other hand spending too much time in an indoor gym isn’t my dream, and we’re glad that we can live our small adventures on easier routes.

 The pitches flow one after the other, with nice dihedrals and cracks, on good rock with a logical and clear line. Without knowing it we get to the middle of the route, where the hardest and nicest 3 pitches follow, ending with with a vertical chimney which is climbed o a series of vertical cracks.

The route is realy nice, and I’m glad that we both can enjoy the route. Most likely there will always be differences between us from the physical possibilities, on one  hand due to gender differences or maybe because we have different opinions about training. But on the routes which we climbed this holiday we could both enjoy what we’re doing.

 

The last 3 pitches are once again easier, and we reach the end of the route after 7 hours, unexpectedly quick, so we get to relax a bit before starting the long descent. The day isn’t over yet, and we have to find a way to get down from here.

And it doesn’t seem to be so simple, as we have to climb and descent another peak, abseil down some dubious, climb once again, abseil once again, and start the long descent on Elmauer Tor. Even though during the entire holiday we usually moved quicker than the climbing guide said, the constantly needed more time on the descent. 
But still the place is incredibly spectacular, and I take some photos which seem brocken from a kingdom of rock. On the way dow we passed the east wall from Fleischbank, which has one of the hardest routes in Wilder Kaiser, and which is sort of the equivalent of the “Valea Alba” wall in Romania. 

Towards the end of the descent a summer rain starts, enough to dampen our spirit but fortunately enough it’s followed by a rainbow, the perfect crowning of a perfect day.

 

The east wall from Fleischbank.

The gate to Elmau (Elmauer Tor)

Climbing on good rock.

Vertical.

At the end of the route.

On the way down.

The upper part of Elmauer Tor.

Vertigo.

An almost double rainbow.

The many colored arrow.