Pure Ice

What to do if it’s too cold outside for rock climbing? Then it’s time for some ice climbing. For me a good opportunity to get to the mountains and a good balance to sport-climbing. Challenging ice climbing with friends, some skiing and sleeping in a small self-catering cottage high in the mountains made this a...

What to do if it’s too cold outside for rock climbing? Then it’s time for some ice climbing. For me a good opportunity to get to the mountains and a good balance to sport-climbing. Challenging ice climbing with friends, some skiing and sleeping in a small self-catering cottage high in the mountains made this a perfect weekend.

I was highly motivated for some ice climbing with Marc and Fabi at the Renkfälle in Austria for several reasons: 1) I wanted to complete the unfinished lines form our attempt some weeks ago. 2) It was maybe the last possibility for ice climbing before the rock climbing season starts. 3) I am studying for 7 years now with Fabi and sharing the same passion for climbing, it was a perfect possibility to do something adventurous together besides university.

In contrast to the last attempt, we used our skis for the ascend this time and we wanted to sleep at a self-catering cottage in the mountains. The downside of this plan was, that our backpacks were really heavy. We had to carry a lot of ice climbing gear, our ski equipment, food for two days and our sleeping bags to stay two days in the mountains. Sprinting up the ascent to the ice falls, we were already pretty done arriving at the base of the icefall. Climbing the first long pitches took us till the evening. Actually, we wanted to climb a free-standing pillar to the top, but I am glad we did not do it. The extreme cold of the week before had caused a lot of tension and cracks in the ice – even though you could not see them from the bottom of the pillar. After rappelling to the base of the icefall, we had to get on our skis to ascent to the ‚Anton-Renk-Hütte‘. The self-catering cottage is located above the icefall in the mountains of the Kaunertal. When we arrived it was already dark and we were quite worn out.

To warm up the hut we made a fire with some wood there and it took us about 3 hours to melt enough snow to cook some pasta. (You have to melt a huge amount of snow for surprisingly little water. 🙁 ) But it was a pretty nice evening, with that wooden fire and no smartphones in that little hut at the mountains. Not keeping up the fire, the night and especially the morning was pretty cold, but the landscape in the morning light was amazing and compensated for that.

We started early this day and we were the only ones at the ice fall this day. We climbed the classic line through the icefall which is graded about WI 5. Marc and I were leading alternating. Ice climbing is technically less challenging than hard rock climbing nevertheless it has his own specialities. You climb long pitches, but you have fewer ice screws resulting in long distances between the bolts. You easily get trapped in situations, where your body is freezing because you have a lot of fear – a fall often would have really bad consequences. So you are stuck on the steep crux and not able to move anymore. It’s challenging for your mind to take over control again ignoring the obvious dangers and trust your skills and the ice. (One good thing is, that I am able to hold the ice axes for a really long time without getting pumped – but sadly this usually doesn’t make the situation better in any way 🙂 ). Marc somehow seemed to be more confident …

This day, we made it to the top of this massive ice wall – finally. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the climbing with Marc and Fabi. After rappelling we looked forward to skiing down to valley ground. I hadn’t used my skis for a year and I was excited how I would be able to handle my skis. But I think some skills that you learned as young child, you will never forget completely. It was a lot of fun to race down the valley and definitely the final highlight of a really cool weekend. Thanks, Marc and Fabi for that little adventure …

location_onAnton-Renk-Hütte mapIcefall topo

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