I'd never imagined train travel to be so bloody civilised but it was. Jenka and myself left Amsterdam Centraal bang on time at 20.30 accompanied by a bottle of wine, some snacks, a deck of cards and an abundance of enthusiasm we passed a few hours savouring the wine while Jenka gave me a beating with a card game I swear she made up as we went along :-)
This gave her the privilege of choosing the first lead of the following day!
Personally I slept like a baby (that's not to say I woke up every 2hours in tears) and after a couple of changes in the morning we arrived at Ausserberg where our taxi was waiting to drive us half way up the hill to Fuxtritt at 1851.
It was a glorious day as we romped up the rest of the hill arriving in good time at the Wiwanni hut at 2470 meters, after checking in and racking up we were off again up to the Schepfjipfiiler for a 5 pitch route appropriately named Prelude. We sent this in 3 pitches, Jenka taking the plumb 5a pitch at the top.
Feeling pretty smug with our progress we were back at the hut in plenty of time for a beer before dinner and to monitor the approach of Robert and Pieter who we could see slowly hiking up the path with enough gear for a siege attempt on K2 :-)
Vytas and Auste came up on the Via Veratta after dinner, we could monitor their progress by their head torches and we made sure they kept some food for them.
With the days compliment safely installed and fed it was an early night for us all.
The next day Jenka was up at the crack of dawn and was raring to go but was slowed down by a sleepy-me we didn't start breakfast till 7.15 :)
As the different teams headed off into the hills, Jenka and myself headed straight to the Ostgrat - a 17 pitch monster of a route (which we re-shaped into a 15 pitch monster) It was a great route, though some of the very easy pitches were a little scrappy and really just a scramble, but all the 5+ pitches were brilliant.
We topped out after 4hours of climbing and headed off down the back ridge which was one of the most exposed ridges I've ever been on - with Jen introducing me to the Kiwi coil :-)
We roped up and found the descent back to the hut, nice and early with more time for a beer and a rest before dinner.
Our party of 6 doubled, with Celine, Erin, Petra, Hans, Flo and of course Pancake Dan joining us.
Dinner was a mass of route planning and preperation for the following day which turned into a total epic.
The following day.
Well there will be numerous versions of this day, this is mine :-)
Jenka and myself parted company and I continuied the weekend climbing with Erin.
We hiked up to the Klein Augstkummenhorn to climb Schwarznasse. This is 9 pitches up some fantastic rock with amazing views. The top pitches being totally exposed and thrilling. We were followed up by Vytas and Auste and we all sat for 1.5hours on the top trying to find the belay point for the descent :-)
In the end it became obvious and all 4 of us abseiled down the Salamander route to safety and the bottom.
We returned to the hut at 6pm, a little later than expected but still plenty of time for a beer before dinner. With Pancake, Jen and Robert experimenting with the slackline, Pieter enjoying a beer, Vytas and Auste chatting the days events and Flo and Petra playing chess against the wind. It became apparent that 2 of our gang was missing.
Note: The following account serves as a lesson to us all testifying to how easy it is to make a couple of errors in judgement and how quickly the situation can get out of control.
The pair were last seen heading east towards the 17pitch monster. I became concerned.
With the help of some binoculars we located them at the top of the Ostgrat, at least 2 hours away.
It became clear as we watched that their idea was to Abseil down the 500+ meter south face. Time dragged on and we could still see them right at the top unsure of what direction to take. As dinner was served they were still at the top and as the light started to fade our concern increased.
To cut a farily long decision process short it was agree'd that the best course of action was to call for the Mountain Rescue helicopter.
The call was made and 1/2 hour later the chopper was landing near the hut from where the rescue was coordinated.
The MR took off and circled climbing higher and higher till they were above the party in distress, they lowered off a guide who quickly assesed the situation, luckly noone was hurt and the party were pulled off the mountain and returned cold and visibly shaken to the hut where they were de-briefed before being fed hot soup.
No need to add that the mood that evening was a little subdued.
In retrospect the team were partly well equipped with a head torch and emergency blanket - they would probably have been ok if they had been forced to spend the night. However their position would have been helped considerably if they had taken a modile phone, extra warm clothing and had a better idea of the descent route.
The next day
Vytas and Auste (who was not feeling well) departed - it was great to see them again, and I hope they continue to join in the events even though they now live in Italy.
After a slow start we didn't head out up the hill till 9am - Erin and I choosing to climb Tscharli on Schepfjipfiiler next to Robert and Pieter (on Prelude). It was a brilliant route with a great 6a pitch at the top which topped off the day brilliantly.
After hooking up with Pieter and Robert we swapped partners and after some more cimbing ended up back at the hut with plenty of time to share stories, drink beer before dinner was served.
It was our last night which saw us draining the huts stock of wine :-) and making a large dent into the grappa.
The next day was a day of departures as team by team we headed back down the hill.
Some of us stayed till the afternoon ticking off some impressive leads in the klettergarten Wandfuss but most of us suffering a little from the excesses of the night before.
Hans, Celine Jenka and myself took the easy road home on the over night train to Amsterdam arriving 9am back in the flat lands, knackered and pretty smelly dispite all attempts to mask the pungent odour :-)
So another years adventure at Wiwanni is over, which always seems to generate great adventures.
It just leaves me to praise Judith, Catherine (and even in his absence Egon) our hosts at the hut - they made our stay brilliant cooking some amazing dinners and making sure we were well informed and giving great advice when it was needed most.
It was a weekend of firsts in so many ways, some of which I hope to be lasts! But for the most part it was an amazing weekend.
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