05 Aug 2012

The Christakante (VI+)

Georg and I planned an ambitious day, hoping to use every ounce of daylight for a big climb! Alas, just like the previous weekend, a stormy forecast required us to lower our sights. Careful and optimistic parsing of the forecast revealed that the best place to be was (again) the Wilder Kaiser, and that we should be able to stay dry until 12 noon or 2 o’clock. We had a few moderately ambitious ideas, but ultimately we went for the safest choice because as we drove away from Munich it was actively raining! Oh, how motivation crashed. But we drove out there anyway. I remembered climbing on the Predigtstuhl the previous August, when Mike, Dave and I were undeterred by heavy rain at the trailhead…we just got some extra coffee to drink: the day turned out fine!

We cruised up into the Steinere Rinne, Georg nursing a headache and feeling de-motivated as he’d fundamentally made this hike too many times this year. Still, we were roped up and beginning the climb near the Elmauer Tor 2 hours after leaving the car. A nice grade IV- pitch with good cam protection, then a walk over to the next real pitch, grade V on a steep wall. Georg combined this pitch with another, and was still climbing when all 60 meters of rope were out. This added spice to the climb of the steep and rather polished wall. We got a bit off route here, but sorted it out with some downclimbing. I led a nice VI+ pitch of the “Direct Variant,” really enjoying the snaky, balancy climbing on the ridge. Sadly though, I rested on the rope after an error at the crux, then retried, moving more to the right this time. Above that difficult move with poor handholds, you are rewarded with excellent dinner plate holds the rest of the way to the belay anchor.

A very nice grade V (YDS 5.7 for American readers!) pitch followed, then the second VI+ pitch. Most people climb it at V/A0 and we learned why: the polish on the holds here was ridiculous! The difficulty is the first moves off the belay, but is protected by two bolts. Once they are both clipped, if you’ve been climbing free then the rest is easy. From here, I led a combination of the last two “real” pitches, first going around the left side of a tower, then straight up from a notch, finally connecting with a beautiful flake to lieback (this latter protected by two bolts). A “bird’s eye view” hanging belay stance at the very lip of the ridge was too nice to pass up. I belayed Georg from here, and then we scrambled to the summit.

After one of Georg’s patented toasted cheese sandwiches, we made one rappel, then hiked over to the descent gully where 4 or 5 20 meter rappels followed. Some downclimbing and hiking brought us back to our tennis shoes. The “shoe to shoe” time was 3.5 hours. Another 1.5 hours of effort got us down to the parking lot for a necessary Radler and Kaiserschmarm. So the hiking time and the climbing time were evenly matched, but only if you consider rappelling climbing. Hmm!

This was a great trip for a day with predicted thunderstorms. Walking by 7, we were back at the car at 2, and could have survived getting wet with minimal cursing from about noon on. Thanks to Georg for a fun day!