Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Last Ultra of the trip, probably

Wilder Kaiser, indeed

What a magnificent sight is Wilder Kaiser with its highest point of  Ellmauer Halt (2344m P1552 i.e. an Ultra). It is a range of hills in the Kaisergebirge Alps that just seems to soar up out of the earth. You can see it for kilometres around. There was no way that I could just drive past it and ignore it.

Nursing my hangover, I parked up in St. Johann in Tirol with the intention of getting a non-alcoholic drink and wandering around to see if there  was a bookshop that sold maps. Not sure if the day was just an ordinary day or a festival, but it was buzzing with activity There were market stalls around the quaint Tyrolean buildings.

I couldn’t see a  bookshop, but by chance I found a remainder shop selling outdated Kompass maps for only four Euros. Oh, bliss upon bliss.  Let me explain if you are not a hilbagger, or even a hillwalker (a different animal altogether) that is like a gourmand accidentally discovering a four star restaurant giving food away for free. I mean, how can a map of a mountain become outdated, geologically speaking?
Next day, with a very early start for me, I set off as daylight broke from the parkplatz at Wochenbrunner Alm (1084m) up an unpaved road to Gaudeamushutte (1263m). This was the point where I became momentarily confused, the map said take track 813, the signs only offered 824.That’s how a map of a mountain can become outdated. 
The first obstacle
The next section of the track has to overcome the obstacle of  getting up a cliff  on to Gruttenkopf – none too hard, but not really a tourist path. 


On the top was the, closed for winter, Gruttenhutte and the start of track 813 on both map and signs. The track starts innocently enough on the grassy alp. 


However it soon enters into a rock strewn corrie with a small glacier in the bottom and magnificent views of the almost vertical sided main ridge. 
 How on earth will the track take me up there?

Glacier from above
The answer to that question was by means of a series of kletterstieg assisted climbs and some long traverses across the rock.

One section consisted of steel rings forming a long ladder – see picture  – I assume they are set so high because in winter they are above the snow . This ladder was fine going up, but I wasn’t too keen coming back down it.

Onwards and upwards
Near the summit is a small hut precariously lodged into the rock in a very exposed position. You wouldn’t want to step outside half-asleep  during the night for a  pee.
Ellmauer Halt summit
Starting down agaiin
Here's the bit I didn't like going down

The return route as far as the Gruttenhutte was very much the same as the ascent, although I took the possibility of missing out some of the rocks lower down by running down the scree and walking across the glacier. As it was a Saturday and glorious weather,  now there were a lot of people on the paths that cross the alp. I discovered later that it is also half-term in Germany which explained the numbers of children.

From the Gruttenkopf I used the alternative track 825 (812 on my map) back to Wockenbrunner Alm. This was a bit easier than the ascent path. Back at the van, I celebrated bagging the Wilder Kaiser with a bottle of Kaiser beer and then went for a meal and a couple glasses of weissbier at the very busy alm, sharing a table with a friendly family from Frankfurt.
After the weissbeer

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