Zillertal Alps, 3rd-19th July 2004

This wasn't the most successful of our Alpine trips, as despite an excellent first few days, we lost the entire middle week to bad weather! Also, the memory card in my camera became corrupted (probably damaged by acidic steam from a vent on White Island on New Zealand earlier that year), so unfortunately we only have photos from the first two days in the hills.

We flew into Salzburg and drove across to Mayrhofen, probably the cheesiest resort town I've experienced. We pitched up in the camp site amidst a vast sea of German and Austrian caravans, and headed for the hills the next morning.


We stayed at the Berliner Hütte for three nights - a luxury hotel amongst Alpine huts! It has private rooms, a huge choice of meals (there were six or seven vegetarian choices alone), many varieties of alcohol, and even showers



The views weren't bad either


On our second day we headed up the Schönbichlerhorn, an easy walking peak just a wee bit over 3000m high. The pointy, rocky peak at the back, just right of centre, is the Zsigmondyspitze, or Feldkopf, which we hoped to climb later


The path crossed and headed up glacial morraines before heading up a broad ridge, which became increasingly rocky higher up. It got quite cloudy


Looking up to the summit from the ridge


An angelic Jenny at the summit. We had intended scrambling along the ridge to a nearby peak, but the worsening weather put us off and we just went back down to the hut


The next day we headed up the other way to try to climb the Zsigmondyspitze, but first had to do battle with these fearsome sheep


Looking up to the Zsigmondyspitze from the snows below


After crossing the snows and then a small glacier we got up onto the rocky ridge below the Zsigmondyspitze, then continued round to a col under it (to the right of this picture). It's quite an inspirational mountain. Our route mostly climbed the right hand skyline, avoiding the steeper middle section by traversing some ledges


We moved together up the SE Ridge (Normal Route), which was mostly scrambling with short sections of Diff and one exposed slabby pitch of V Diff in the middle


There's a guest book at the summit, in that box on the cross!


Sadly, we lost all the pictures we took after this point.

We descended rapidly by the same route, worried that it would rain and maybe thunder, and we got back down in good time.

The next day we climbed the Ochsner, a fairly unremarkable looking hill above the Berliner Hütte, again not much over 3000m high. The weather was forecast to break that afternoon, so we wanted a quick peak that we wouldn't need to rope up for. It turned out to be excellent, with an icy grade I/II snow gully leading onto complex slabs and buttresses climbed mostly at about Moderate, with involving route finding, then a surprising knife-edge snow arete to the summit; descent by the same route. We had lunch in the hut, then headed back to Mayrhofen.

It rained for the next week, falling as snow on the mountains. Our tent flooded during the night and we had to move it and sleep in our soaking wet bags. We got them dried out over the next couple of days, but the rain kept on falling. We spent a lot of time in the cafés, drinking beer and eiskaffe (coffee made with ice cream) and knoblauchsuppe (garlic soup, a local speciality). There were some spectacular thunderstorms, and we did get to swim in the outdoor pool at the campsite during one, which was an odd experience. There was a yodelling concert at the campsite, which we escaped by going to the only good pub in town, "Scotland Yard", and drinking heavily. Towards the end of the week things started to improve a bit, and we spent a day near Innsbruck climbing our first via ferrata, then looking around Innsbruck town. We spent another day walking up a lower hill above Mayrhofen (Penken), then headed up to the Hintertuxer glacier to the Spannagelhaus for an attempt on the Hoher Riffler. After a couple of hours of battling through the deep, fresh snow, we realised that we weren't going to make it, and backed off down to the hut again, from where we joined an interesting tour of the Spannagelhöhle - a cave under the hut and the glacier.

We had just enough time left to try a day trip up the Ahornspitze. We took the cable car up and walked in past the Edelhütte. Rather than just go up the normal route - a walk - we tackled the North Ridge, supposedly a good scramble with a wee bit of V Diff. It turned out to be quite a disappointing route, with an interesting scrambly start but then a huge section of walking in the middle, then some scrambling on broken rock to just below the summit. The last 100m or so were good, though - a steep pitch of Diff followed by an airy V Diff traverse of a narrow pinnacled ridge, with one slabby section that was quite emotional in big boots. We descended the normal route in time to get the cable car back down, and we headed home the next day.