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Climbing and Hiking in the Austrian Alps

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here are some picture albums from a recent trip that included a day of climbing (klettersteig/via ferrata/cable climb) and another of hiking in the Austrian Salzkammergut. My apologies, I'm neither a great photographer nor do I have the patience/ambition to edit the albums properly.

http://simon1.shutterfly.com
post #2 of 12
If there's a more spectacular place in the world than Austria, I've never been there (never been to New Zealand). Well done!
post #3 of 12
Gorgeous photos, Si. That via ferrata looks way fun.

Nice lizard.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Bob,

I took Images 0240-0244 (10/09 Gossau Lakes) just to send to you. They kinda seemed like the Tetons of Gossau.
post #5 of 12
great picks..
i don't quit understand the point in the biner attached to the cable..
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasoncapecod View Post
great picks..
i don't quit understand the point in the biner attached to the cable..
Via Ferrata (or Klettersteig in German) is a type of climbing that is quite popular in Europe. There is a cable that's fixed to the rock and the climber wears a regular climbing harness. The harness has two carabiners, each attached to the harness by a special sling that's about 3-4 feet long.

As you climb, you attach the biners to the fixed cable. The cable provides your protection, so you don't have to carry ropes or protection gear. While climbing, you slide the biners along the cable. When you come to one of the anchors for the cable, you unclip one biner and then re-clip it above the anchor. You then unclip the second biner and re-clip above the anchor and continue climbing. There are two biners/slings so that you are always protected by at least one biner, even when you're passing an anchor.

Because of this setup, you can never fall any further than the next anchor below you (plus the length of the sling).

There are some truly spectacular big climbs in Europe that utilize Via Ferrata. We've done a number of them and they are great fun and quite safe. Via's enable you to go light and fast on some amazing terrain.

Here's a friend of mine of on the Ferrata Tisi wall, just below the summit of the Civetta outside Cortina, Italy. The blue helmet at the very bottom of the photo is my wife.



And here's that same summit from the little town of Alleghe:



Does that help?
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
Does that help?
I was going to ask a similar question, but you answered it. It looks like falling right before an anchor would hurt a lot, given that a sling is a [very short] static rope. This looks cool, although IMHO using that cable for anything except pro is cheating (or aid at least)
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doublediamond223 View Post
I was going to ask a similar question, but you answered it. It looks like falling right before an anchor would hurt a lot, given that a sling is a [very short] static rope. This looks cool, although IMHO using that cable for anything except pro is cheating (or aid at least)
The "sling" is not really a short static rope. It is actually a short static rope connected to an expandable brake that is made to gradually open up in the event of a fall with enough force and speed. Falling well above a cable anchor would lead to much greater fall speeds than falling right above an anchor. There can easily be more than 10 or 15 feet between cable anchors.

In terms of cable protection I would say yes and no to your comments. At one end I have climbed in a gorge (Post Alm) where the cable route was designed as a kind of climbing garden with many places having iron bars as footholds along smooth vertical side walls with the cable as the hand hold AND protection above (which you can also see on a small part of the route in the pictures I linked to); a cable bridge with cable above for handhold; a cable across a 2 meter gap with an iron foothold on the other side as a landing, etc.. In general, using the cable for anything but protection is probably to be avoided in the opinion of many. On the other hand, my friends who take me climbing always say that the cable is there for help when you need it. I wonder if it's much different than what some people think (used to think) about fat skis being a crutch?

Personally, I have very very little free climbing experience and these cable climbs allow me access to climbs I'd never otherwise get to experience. However, as you might imagine, there can be a lot of debate and dissention when someone wants to put a cable route up an existing climbing route.

Here's a picture from the Post Alm Klettersteig share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AcOGbZwzct2Lm4
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post
The "sling" is not really a short static rope. It is actually a short static rope connected to an expandable brake that is made to gradually open up in the event of a fall with enough force and speed. Falling well above a cable anchor would lead to much greater fall speeds than falling right above an anchor. There can easily be more than 10 or 15 feet between cable anchors.
Ok, that makes more sense. It's basically equivalent to lead climbing then, without the whippers.


Quote:
I wonder if it's much different than what some people think (used to think) about fat skis being a crutch?
I'm going to give a resounding yes (it is different) to this one, but that's just me.

Quote:
Personally, I have very very little free climbing experience and these cable climbs allow me access to climbs I'd never otherwise get to experience. However, as you might imagine, there can be a lot of debate and dissention when someone wants to put a cable route up an existing climbing route.

I think it's great that people get to climb routes that would otherwise be far above their ability, but I also sympathize with people who are against marring the natural landscape in such a dramatic way. I have a fairly high amount of sport climbing experience, so that is probably why it seems so strange to me. The thought of these huge metal frameworks across my favorite routes is hard to swallow.

I've read about the battles over putting bolts on certain routes; I'd imagine arguments over these cables are even more intense....
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
One thing I would respond with is that I believe that European mountain culture and orientation is significantly different that ours. They have lived and worked in the mountains for centuries. They manage their mountains and forests using very different systems than we do (that's a topic that I have only scratched the surface of but I find very interesting). In Austria (and elsewhere in the Alps) they have Huts, Gasthofs, Gasthaus, Alms (with food, drink, and sometimes rooms) in many locations throughout their mountains (not just in the villages and towns). Most of the people in Austria have some if not considerable orientation to the mountains including hiking, climbing, skiing, ski touring, etc. All of these considerations (along with WWII which is how they started I believe) make the Via Ferrata/Klettersteig issue much different for them than they would be for us. One thing I can tell you is that in the last ten years or so the number of them has increased (maybe as much as tenfold!).

I don't know that I want to take a position about what is right or wrong, better or worse. One thing I know is that there is a lot of different things to discover and enjoy in the European Mountain culture and for that I say Vive la Difference.
post #11 of 12
Si, very cool photos. Looks like a great trip.
post #12 of 12
thanks for the explanation...
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