Below the Kaindlhuette

Georg and I planned to go climbing for the weekend but the weather forecast didn’t support it. Drat! It hasn’t been a great July, weather-wise. It looked like we’d have a few hours Saturday morning before the rain. I decided on the Ostler route on Scheffauer, rated IV (about 5.6 YDS), and 14 pitches. Every pitch is grade II or III, and only the last pitch is harder. It seemed like we could mostly solo it, and just use the rope near the end. The route is noted for being quite exposed for the easy grade.

But Georg had an exhausting day Friday, so he had to cancel. I decided to go myself, bringing rock shoes and a helmet. There were some “bail out” opportunities on the route, and I’d take them if the rain came or if I felt sketchy.

I parked at Hintertux, 250 meters above Kufstein, though, in hindsight, I regret it. There was one spot on the grass next to a house, and I worried that my car would be towed or that I’d come back to an angry crowd! Next time, I’ll park down in Kufstein. The 30 minutes I “saved” were lost in driving around and trying to find the well-hidden road up to Hintertux.

I’ve never made this hike because it seems so boring. But now it was more interesting for having never been visited. Roads and occasional trails led passed the Duxer Alm, underneath a seemingly abandoned rusty chairlift. I finally reached the Brentenjoch at 1272 meters, then jogged down to where the road meets the Gaisbach, then hiked up past the Steinberghuette to the Kaindlhuette. After all these confusing landmarks, it was easy to follow the Widauersteig to a small basin below the North Wall.

A picturesque basin

Here was me at this moment in time

The Ostler Route

On the Ostler Route

The Great Slab

It took me two hours from the car to this point. I ate a candy bar, switched to rock shoes and looked up at the wall. I heard voices and saw a person moving high above, on the 10th pitch…crossing the massive blue-white slab that marks the upper face. Wow! Gulp…

I started up, resolving to keep track of where I was by always finding and marking the belay stations. Excellent scrambling followed on decent to excellent rock. The pitches flew by, with easy route finding. The fourth pitch enters a basin left of the slab, then climbs out of it on a distinct ridge for several pitches. Happily the weather was holding.

On pitch 8, by a piton in the wall there was a rather spicy move with a lot of exposure. And on pitch 9 there was an unexpected difficulty. By a bolt, I wasn’t sure if the route went straight up, or down into a dark, wet gully. Going up looked quite steep!

Finally I resolved the question, and started carefully up. All the holds were good, but extreme care was required. I was absolutely aware of every limb, every point of balance. Each hold got extra scrutiny for movement, every foothold was carefully vetted.

Descending from Scheffauer

The Kaindlhuette and Kufstein

The upper Widauersteig, a neat hike

After this enjoyable but demanding pitch I looked up at the last 5 pitches and was completely intimidated by the great slab. Without even thinking about it I demurred immediately! Naw, I thought. The slab was only grade III, but that combined with the fact of a grade IV pitch right at the end, and the unpleasant possibility of having to downclimb the slab in case of problems…

I was at the last chance to escape the route, so I took it. Now I climbed pleasant scrambling terrain up gullies and corners to eventually reach the trail. I think I was on the face for about 1.5 hours.

I made the short hike to the summit, stopping to pause and look down the exit pitch of the Ostler, marked by a couple of bolts. Yeah…doesn’t look so bad, but I needed a partner for that! I’d be happy to come back sometime!

I hung out a while, then descended the Widauersteig to get a beer and cake at the Kaindlhuette. This made me sleepy, so below the hut I took a short nap in a meadow. The sky had filled with clouds and a cold wind. The face was covered in cloud. The weather was here!

On the hike down it started raining. This was a very enjoyable trip! About 1500 meters up and down. Too bad Georg couldn’t make it, but we’ll be back then!