Monday, October 12, 2009


I was in East Tyrol for the first weekend of October with Christos to climb the Grossvenediger. It was the last weekend that the Johannis Hut would be open before their five-month winter break. The weather and conditions on the normal route from the south were excellent. Additionally, there were very few people underway.

From the hut, it is about 1600 meters of elevation gain to the top. The route is a glacier hike with no real technical difficulties. There is however the risk of crevasse falls, a long distance and moving at a height of 3100m to 3600m for more than half of the route. Standard glacier equipment and traveling on a rope are essential.

The high pressure Autumn weather pattern assured for cold temperatures at night and cool, pleasant temperatures during the day. The surface of the glacier was frozen which made for quick travel. There were some deposits of wind-blown snow, and about 5 to 10cm amount of new snow on the upper plateau.

The photo on the left is of Christos walking across the snow ridge that leads to the summit. I remember the first time I walked across it a long time ago and how I had wobbly knees as left and right there are about 200 meters of very steep couloirs falling away to the glacier below.

Above 3500 meters the wind was a bit stronger and the temperature was noticeably cooler. It proved to be a taste of what was to come later in the week in the north-eastern alps.

Today we are in the second day of our first winter storm cycle. There is snow at an elevation of 850 meters. In the next couple of days the temperatures will continue to drop, bring snow showers into the valleys. The forecast is for about a half meter of snow in the mountains.

As it turned out the first weekend in October seems to be the end of fall in the region. Good thing we were able to take advantage of the good settled weather. Hopefully, winter will bring abundant snow and good ice conditions long into the spring.

I plan to be back on the south side of the Grossvenediger for some ski mountaineering activities in March. There are a couple of routes and descents that have caught my eye in the past years, and I am planning on doing a Alpenverein glacier ski course there as well.


  1. great pics!
    have been there two months earlier but was overcrowded. seems you catched the better moment and only a few people were about.
    looking forward to the ice-climbing course beginning of january.

    rgds alex

  2. hey alex, you haven't been in the climbing gym lately ... that means either too much work or a women, so which is it?????

    the gv is a lot better with the skis, see you at the latest in january, cheers, joe

  3. hi joe,
    reason for my absence isn´t too much work nor a women. got a tenosynovitis and had to stop climbing until complete recovery.
    feel already very good and will start in 2010 again.
    guess i overacted a bit ;)

    cheers alex