Uli, Dan and I had a plan to climb the Gerberkreuz above Mittenwald. We worried about snow on the approach, but the rock looked dry and ready to climb. However, when we got out at the parking lot it was damn cold! And it seemed like it might rain. We really wanted to be in “the alpine,” but the risk of hiking 2 hours just to get rained out led us to drive south to the Martinswand.

Pretty much the last rock climb I did last year was when Dan and I climbed the first 4 pitches of the Auckenthaler Riss on the Martinswand. We had started late in the day after the Ostriss (VI) and “Flying Grass (VII-),” and just ran out of daylight. So it was funny to go back there now, intent on the same goal. But this time we were starting in the morning!

The Auckenthaler Riss is an old classic, and features VII- crack climbing. It’s also quite polished. On the other hand, it’s been completely bolted, so the fear evens out!

We scrambled up the rather serious approach. Uli took the first block of three pitches, first climbing a chimney with a cruxy move (V) at the start of the second pitch. Then one more pitch led to the start of the Auckenthaler crack proper. Now I led a block. The first pitch had a dicey face move or two, then offered some jams in the crack. This was as high as Dan and I got last year.

From this point the route is absolutely vertical for the next several pitches. Some grade VI climbing led straight up with crack and face moves. When Uli came up, there was some excitement because he tested a little column of rock on the right to see if he could use it. But it exploded into pieces! Thankfully it all flew away and didn’t hit Dan, who was climbing up about 10 meters below. Also, we saw another party had begun the route below, and happily because the route leans leftward for a long ways, they were also safe. Whew!

For my last lead I started up a vertical crack, then knew I was in the crux VII- section because of my shaking “elvis leg!” I remember one good hand jam, although too low to reach up. Then a dime-edged face hold above that. I had one foot jammed in the crack, and the other floating in space. Some kind of forgotten magic of swapping hands and smearing saw me through. “Whoo!” I yawped.

Dan and Uli came up, finding it pretty exciting. Uli is new to crack climbing, so it was especially “evil.” :D.

Now Dan led a block of three pitches, the first two continued the “absolutely vertical” theme. The second of those had a set of very delicate crux VII- moves. Dan used a point of aid, as a piton with a fixed sling hung temptingly in the way. When following, I was able to avoid it, but just barely. It was more of a face climb for a few moves, then there was a poor hand-jam, just slightly too high to power up on. You had to be patient and get your feet a bit higher before you could yard on the jam. All the while, the Inn River and highway pull at you from below. I think this part overhung slightly.

Another easier pitch, then we were done! But Uli’s book mentioned a 3 pitch grade V variation exit. “Go for it, Uli, it’s your block!” So he took off, combining the first two pitches. It was certainly a more fun way to exit the route than the ocean of dirty rock that makes up the normal way off to the left. The route tried to find a way up the most solid rock. Eventually, we reached a little “rescue station” where the alpine rescue team has stashed some gear and some strong anchors for rappelling down along the Auckenthaler Riss. Here we unroped and hiked down in very strong wind.

After the long hike, I still had energy, so we went to the OeAV Klettergarten. We climbed two fantastic pitches as one 50 meter lead. The route was grade V, but felt harder, probably due to the terrible polish on the first slab pitch. But these two pitches had a lot of variety: slab, pockets, cracks, even an overhang. That Klettergarten is quite large, we’ll have to go back to it.

On a funny note, I ate “Goo” all day, having recently re-read Mark Twight’s “Extreme Alpinism,” and thinking I need to pay more attention to how I eat in the mountains. It worked really well. I was so up, and could have kept climbing 2-3 more hours until dark. But the city called us home. Dan was wasted from a transatlantic flight and Uli had dinner with Anna. I got in just in time for dinner with the family too. A great day out!