16 Jun 2012

Herzschlag der Leidenschaft (VI+/A0)

Also posted on cascadeclimbers.com here.

Hi all, some of youse may remember me from the old days! I try to come around when I know of something interesting for yall, and I think I have something. If not this particular climb then recognize that there are a dozen like it.

“Herzschlag der Leidenschaft” is a massive “sport alpine” climb, rated at 5.12a if you do it all free. For mortals like me, it goes at solid 5.10 with A0. The coolest thing is the length: 32 bitchin’ pitches! The vertical gain is 1200 meters, and the climbing length is 1700 meters, thanks to some long traverses mid-height.

I was thinking of it as a bigger cousin to Mt. Garfield’s big sport climb. The lower 16 pitches are “approach,” and the real hairy stuff is in the upper half.

Fitted out like lycra-clad sport climbers, we weren’t ready for the truly hairy moat to start things off. Here I am carving pitiful steps with rocks, weeping about the 60 foot drop into blackness just right of my tender tennis-shoed feet:

But finally we started. I’m old, and barely skilled, so I got the loose crappy block. But there were 3-4 excellent pitches and some always satisfying simul-climbing in coils like you see in old films.

But for young turks, the fun begins with a 5.10c rightward traverse:

then a 4 pitch leftward traverse! Barely gaining elevation! Check out the ominous “bivouac holes” above my buddy Georg’s head.

Oh yeah. We’re in Austria…here is what the countryside looks like from mid-height:

Here the climbing is so exposed and very good:

We go straight up beyond Georg:

Yeah, I’m in A0 land for a while!

I redeem myself with some scrappy 5.8 pitches, where the bolts ran out and I used all our cams in the chimney above my head. Higher, you can see an amazing lieback crack (5.11a/b) that we don’t have pictures of.

A bit more short roping, to reach the upper headwall and the last 3 pitches:

On the way down we can see the wall, moving like a ghost ship through the green sea:

We walked right into a restaurant below the wall. Characteristically American, I order the fries:

Anyway, there do seem to be at least 10 routes like this with more than 30 pitches in the area. One of them, “Ende Nie” (Never-ending) is 38 pitches, rated 5.10b. Sure, there is some loose stuff along the way, but the ratios are pretty good. For this one, I added up 630 meters of 3rd/4th class, 600 meters of mid-5th, and 470 meters of 5.10a and above. Mebbe you guys want to come out this way. Austria seems to be completely ignored as a climbing destination. I never saw an American over here! Something to do for Oktoberfest anyway.

So that is the news from here. Take care and have a great summer cc.com!

Gear Notes:

Double 60 meter ropes, 12 quickdraws, 4-5 cams and 6 nuts.

Approach Notes:

Literally 5 minutes from the car. The descent is a hiking trail down (about two hours)