Saturday, May 9, 2009

Untersberg East Ridge

Yesterday (08. 05), I was back on the Untersberg east ridge ("Laterndl", III/400m) to train. I did the approach over the "Kienbergsteg" that follows the border between Bavaria and Salzburg. I crossed a couple of snow and debris filled avalanche paths. At about 1200m there are still snow fields to travel over and a small snow coluior before the start of the ridge.

In the route itself, the north-east facing scramble to the start of the climbing is still under a couple meters of snow. After the first initial climbing moves, the short gully leading up to the second belay is also snow filled and running with water at its entrance. The pitch is an interesting bit of mixed climbing. I used my ice axe but the crampons stayed in my pack.

Climbing to the third belay was somewhat nerve racking as just after the winter thaw, everything seemed loser than normal. Overall, the brittle rock sections needed more care due to the fact that the route has not been traveled this early in the year and it is just now thawing out.

An interesting aside: The third belay broke out last fall. The belay anchors on the east ridge are dilled and cemented "U" shaped iron bars. Hence there is only one belay anchor at each station. This is normal on a number of older classic routes in the area. The system is not redundant. A large piece of rock fractured to which the belay anchor was attached. I saw the piece of rock with the intact bolt laying on the ground last fall. I have clipped this anchor numerous times when I've guided the route and even rapped-off from it when I had to bail with a couple of guests.

It really made me think when I saw that the rock broke out with the anchor. I do not trust this type of non-standard belay point any longer. Back up single-point anchors at belay stances.

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