Monthly Archives: September 2015

Little How Crag.

Have you seen the forecast – dry, sunny, warmish and no wind, though as you will see from the pictures it didn’t live up to its promise.This is the end of September in the Lakes. So I put into plan a trip I’ve been hatching all this variable summer. Friend Alan had been climbing here earlier in the year in poor conditions but still raved about the quality of the rock. Rod and I had never climbed at Little How Crag in 50 years of Lakeland exploration and this was the weekend to put things right. We managed to find our way up Walna Scar Road to the parking spot above the fell gate but were surprised by the sheer number of parked cars. We seemed to remember from our last trip to Dow Crag only a few rough parking places, today it was more like Asda’s carpark. Coniston Old Man must be inundated. The clouds were still low as we picked up the track leading to Levers Water and soon left the crowds behind. The whole area is full of mines, slate and copper, and numerous risky sites are fenced off. We passed the stream coming down from the high Small Water combe under Coniston Old Man and on through Boulder valley. Once level with Levers Water the misty clouds lifted partially to reveal our crag 300ft up the hillside. Despite being ‘fit’ from my recent Stubai Walk I found the last steep bit trying. Though soon we were unpacking at the base of a lovely sweep of rock which looked mainly dry.  Geared up I set off on the start of Sunshine Arête despite the lack of sunshine – the first few feet seemed rather tricky for a Diff!

photo

Photo – Andrew.Thompson

After that it was a romp up easy angled slabs on perfect rough rock.A traversing last pitch had me wandering upwards to find a belay. We had to scramble up a hundred feet more before we could access the steep descent gully. Whilst we were contemplating a slippy down climb into the gully we spotted an abseil point on a spike of rock – it looked fairly solid so we used it for a good section of the said gully.

Abseiling the slippy gully.

Abseiling the slippy gully.

More down climbing and traversing brought us back to the sacs. Yachts laboured on Coniston Water far below and a few walkers descended Levers Hawse to our right.   Refuelled Rod soon made quick progress up the immaculate rock of more interesting Thunder Slab HS with a direct finish. We used the same way off and called it a day, 5pm. The evenings walk back was a delight in the low sunshine. Trickles of backpackers went past us up to some lovely spots in the hills, I felt quite envious.

Wetherlam above Levers Water.

Wetherlam above Levers Water.

Nonetheless we were glad to arrive back at the car. Several other parties were coming down from Dow Crag and we contemplated on our more isolated venue. A couple of easy routes on perfect rock on  a little visited crag but with a highly traditional feel.

 

Stubaier Höhenweg XII – Postscript.

If you have read my last few posts about the ‘Stubai Rucksack Route’ [Stubaier Höhenweg] you will realise how enjoyable hut to hut walking in Austria is. The area is so walker friendly – ease of access, good maps, signed and waymarked paths, superb alpine scenery, excellent friendly huts providing good food and drink, English spoken everywhere ……    I have no reason to doubt that the other Austrian Alpine areas are as good, I will try somewhere different next year. There are many suitable guide books available Cicerone and Rother for starters. Just give it a try.

In my first post regarding preparations I discussed the problems my feet were causing. I’d gone out and bought a new pair of Hi-Tech Eurotrek boots, cheap and light. These proved comfortable from the first day and I had no further blister problems. They were more than adequate for the rough terrain and seemed waterproof. At the end of 10 days walking there was minimal sign of wear on the treads, though with previous pairs I’ve found this is their weak-point.

My other purchase was a cheap light Peter Storm waterproof jacket. We only had one afternoon of rain in the whole trip and the jacket was only worn then. It proved to be totally waterproof but suffered from mild breathability problems that I can live with. So £20 well spent though again I wonder about longer term durability. I will provide an update on both boots and jacket in three months.

Now back home after an excellent night in Innsbruck – recommend The Golden Krone Hotel and  the the nearby Steiglbrau restaurant. Despite the palpable influx of immigrants into Austria and Germany our return rail travel went well, with time for a meal in Munich before a smooth Easyjet flight to Manchester. The evenings have become noticeably darker and the dry weather distinctly Autumnal. Where to next?

The sky is clear tonight with a large bright moon shining into my bedroom. Setting the alarm for 3am to hopefully view the moon’s eclipse.

PPS           When in the Austrian Huts don’t forget  — — or male or female.

Stubaier Höhenweg XI – a fitting finale.

Adolf-Pichler  –  Starkenburger Hut  –  Fulpmes.

An early start for what would be a long day if we wanted to get out of the mountains today. This was helped by the breakfast being only a few slices of bread with cheese – no need to linger. The route up to the Seejochl 600m above was obvious from the hut door and didn’t take us too long. The sun was just coming over the limestone pinnacles as we reached it and a herd of chamois grazed across the scree slopes. There were great views back to the A-P hut and beyond. We passed under some impressive limestone buttresses.

Looking back to the A-P hut, Innsbruck and beyond.

Looking back to the A-P hut, Innsbruck and beyond.

The traverse across the scree below Schlicker Seespitz was exciting and more suited to chamois than walkers. We were rewarded with great views up the Oberbergtal valley to the Franz Senn hut and beyond, the previous days’ routes being obvious. Magnificent scenery. Then in front of us was the Starkenburger Hut with the familiar Habicht behind. We had come full circle. Time for a coffee on the terrace of the Starkenburger and a decision on the way down to the valley. Straight down to Neustift 1300m below…

No thanks!

No thanks!

… or a more leisurely descent to Fulpmes. The latter won out and we enjoyed the easy if longer way for two reasons. One – we arrived at Galtalm just in time for lunch and enjoyed a perfect rosti with eggs and a beer sat in the sunshine on their terrace with views to matchand Two – not much further on we came across a working ski lift which had us down into the valley in no time. Fulpmes was a typical ski resort but we didn’t have to wait long for a bus into Innsbruck. What service.

Stubaier Höhenweg X – Adolf who?

Potsdamer – Adolf-Pichler Hut.

Mist in the valley below the Potsdamer Hut.

Mist in the valley below the Potsdamer Hut.

Had to remind the pieman to go careful with the war jokes.                                                                                                                                                                       Our plans to scale the Schwarzhorn en-route to the Starkenburger Hut were dampened, literally, by low cloud. The hut warden suggested going to the Adolf-Pichler hut instead with the option to continue to the Starkenburger. We clung to a hillside in the mist and worked our way up to a col which seemed to give easy access to the A-P. If we had studied the map more carefully we would have noticed the scale of the area and the size of the intervening valley. We imagined various routes through the hills that didn’t really exist, just be content and follow your red and white waymarks. There is no such thing as a short day here. You have left the big mountains behind and this region borders onto the limestone. We had great views of the ‘dolomitic’   Kalkkögel range. After losing all our height we were cheered by the lovely path heading up again – a true balcony path amongst rocks and low trees with strange bits of steps. There were views down to Innsbruck now much closer. At the next col the A-P hut appeared tucked away below the limestone cliffs and was soon reached. Despite our early arrival thoughts of continuing evaporated as instead we tucked into cheese dumpling soup and chatted to the friendly young staff. The dining room was warm and welcoming with its ceramic stove, the Kachelofen, and a good library to while away the afternoon. We failed that evening to finish the bergsteigeressen  of dumplings – may not want to see another for some time.

Stubaier Höhenweg IX – a pleasant diversion.

Franz Senn  –  Potsdamer Hut.

Leaving the Franz Senn behind.

Leaving the Franz Senn behind.

We had a day to spare in the mountains so rather than go straight to the Starkenburger Hut  we planned an extra night en route at the Potsdamer north of the Wildkopf. There were plenty of choices.  The morning was dull and misty but still dry as we left on the well marked Hohenweg which traversed high across the steep north side of the Oberberg valley. Chamois wee spotted high above us. In parts the path was narrow and shaly above long drops and cables were encountered several times so it took us longer than we thought to reach the small Hochseduckalm.

Spot the path - top right.

Spot the path – top right.

A bench here was an ideal snack stop, there was no one about and slowly the cloud enveloped us. Cursory glances at the signs sent us along the wrong path in the mist for a few hundred metres until we realised we weren’t climbing and a compass bearing sent us back to the hut to start again.  This time it was straight up to the col at 2599m which we achieved in good time. There were no views to linger for so it was straight down the north side on slippery rock, the mica schist glistening with moisture. By now it was raining with thunder in the air so we didn’t stop till we were well down the corrie 500m below. Our sandwich stop there was fairly miserable …

Glum pieman and rockman.

Glum pieman and rockman.

… and we tramped on down an impressive valley, the Potsdamer Hut only coming into view at the last minute. We soon dried out over ‘teewasser’ This was a great little hut with lots of character and a friendly warden. It was quite busy as it is on another hut -to-hut circuit of the Sellrain area. We plotted various routes for tomorrow dependent on the weather.

Stubaier Höhenweg VIII – the stony wastes.

Neue Regensburger – Franz Senn Hut.

A sea of stones en-route.

A sea of stones en-route.

Yet another bright sunny morning though Autumn has arrived and there is a heavy dew. We were off on a short traverse across the hillside with great views back to the Resenburger. Then it was straight up to the Schrimmennieder pass at 2705m. All around were unstable stones and the path looped through them, I found the going tough and couldn’t sort my breathing. Two steps up one step down territory.Arrived at the pass just as H and B set off to climb an adjacent summit, Besslerjoch. I left them to it and relaxed. Chatted to two German lads coming through, they  had studied in Liverpool and we reminisced over some good scouse pubs. The way down the other side was extremely stony and hostile. Several areas have been devastated by avalanches and the route takes a circuitous line to avoid the worst, thankfully well marked with red and white. Even so it was endlessly hard going and one was very aware of the need not to slip or trip. Even when we were out of the steepest sections the path traversing a large couloir went on for ever. The forecast had predicted rain and the day was darkening. Rounding a bluff the hut was in sight and we broke into a gentle trot to arrive before the rain hit us.The Franz Senn Hut is massive and well equipped. Strangely it was the first Austrian Alpine Club owned one we had used.  A large restaurant was welcoming and we were booked into a room with Gunter who must have thought of us as strange English. He was on an Alpine training course along with scores of others who filled the hut, the drying room was particularly busy as they came off the mountains with all their kit.

Aspiring Alpinists.

Aspiring Alpinists.

Some colour in the stony wastes.

Some colour in the stony wastes.

Stubaier Höhenweg VII – the easy way.

Up to the Neue Regensburger Hut.

A quick down to start the day.

There was no change of mind so we were whisked down the hill in the ski lift and onto the valley bus to be dropped at Falbeson. We went straight to the Waldcafe for a coffee and information on the luggage lift to the Regensburger. The owner was the cable supervisor at this lower end and arranged for us to send up our sacks. Whilst sorting mine I realised that my waterproofs were missing, a phone call to the Dresdner and they were found in our room!! How could I be so stupid. I was preparing to go back up for them when the barman said he could arrange for them to be sent down on the ski lift, popped on the bus to here and he would send them up. I was doubtful if this would work but he reassured me and sent us on our way, no load on my back but a heavy load in my heart worrying about the waterproofs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an initial steep zigzagging  section up through the woods which just had to be taken steadily in the heat. Near the top I picked up a bright bandana meaning to leave it at the hut. There were lots of day walkers using the track and stopping at a delightful cafe in an alp halfway up – we did the same and enjoyed a fresh elderflower drink. We had views down the valley to the prominent Habicht and up to the Regensburger hut. The route then started to climb again in earnest up to the Hut perched on the edge of the cliff. The luggage box wound its way on the cable above us with our rucksacks and hopefully my waterproofs. On the way down was an attractive lass who enquired if we had seen a bandana and when I produced it from my pocket I was rewarded with hugs and kisses – the day was improving!

The hut was in a spectacular position on the edge and as the day was perfect the terrace was packed with diners and drinkers. Most went down to the valley later, though the hut remained busy with a lively crowd up for the weekend. Our sacks were there but no sign of my waterproofs yet, I thought the plan had backfired. We strolled up the valley towards the infamous col but it was too far to make out the conditions. The valley itself had many roches moutonnées and a silted in glacial lake. As we arrived back at the hut another delivery was coming up and this time there were my waterproofs, a celebratory drink followed.

The hut dog.

The hut dog.

A packed boot room.

A packed boot room.

My waterproofs arriving.

My waterproofs arriving.

Quite an eventful day.  Thank you Waldcafe.