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24.12.2010

Hahnenkammturm Northwest-Ridge Winterascent

On December 16th David and Peter Ortner succeeded the probably first winter ascent of the Hahnenkammturm’s 1500m long north-west ridge. Here’s a short report:

Less than three driving-hours from Innsbruck the Lienzer Dolomiten are rising up to the sky. You can find a vast number of alpine routes in these walls, but nevertheless: Our trip about a week ago was my first climbing experience there.

After a quite unpleasant dental visit I met with Peter Ortner at the north portal of the Felbertauerntunnel on Decembre 14th. We climbed the two pitches of the left Portalfall and carried on to Lienz together.

On the next day we started around 7 a.m. from our parking lot on skies. At 9:30 a.m. we reached the start of the route, deposed our skies under a big boulder and climbed to the real starting point.

The first few pitches were quite easy. Rock, snow and ice changed constantly, but we went ahead very well. The first crux was waiting in the 13th pitch. It was a big, vertical corner with an icy crack leading to the summit of a small tower. Because of the ice in the crack our friends didn’t hold very well and so I was happy to find a piton from time to time. I made my way up slowly, while Peter was hanging on the belay and straggling in vain against the bitter cold.

Around 4:00 p.m. Peter and I had already passed 22 of the 36 pitches and so we built a small snow cave for the bivouac. The outside temperature ranged from –20 to –25°C. In our little hole it was about –10°C but we still felt cold in our skinny sleeping bags.

The next morning Peter had a try at the next pitch, but he didn’t succeed because our friends were frozen and he got frost nips on his fingertips. Across a wide gully leftmost it finally worked out. After about 300 m of challenging combined terrain we reached the summit ridge and in the end we climbed the top of the Hahnenkammturm without any problems.

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