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Ascent of Geissstein on 2012-09-25

Climber: Lee Newton

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Geissstein
    Location:Austria
    Elevation:2363 m / 7753 ft

Ascent Trip Report

I was waiting for a good weather day to tackle the Birnhorn, a tough day out requiring settled weather due to the length and scrambly nature of the route. However, the Föhn (a strong southerly wind that blows from time to time in the Alps was forecast to cover the next three days. Reluctantly I downgraded my plans and headed for the Geissstein, a prominent but not too high peak that could probably be climbed safely in a strong wind. First I drove south down the Zillertal valley from our hotel on the Achensee, and over the Gerlos pass (toll road, 8 Euro for a day pass in 2012). I was hoping to see the Krimml Falls en route, one of the biggest, most impressive in Europe. However, when I arrived there there was thick mist and drizzle so I only caught a glimpse. I continued East to Mittersill and from there had to pay attention to the route. First I continued east about 3km to the small village of Stuhlfelden then turned left off of the main road where indicated by a sign. Directions from here measuring from kilometer zero. After 200m the tourist information should be on your left. Continue on the same road as it turns first right then left, and heads unphill. As you exit the village, there is a sharp left hand bend and the road starts to climb steeply. Ignore the first right turn at Km 1.2 but take the next one (a switchback) at Km 1.8. The next junctions are all helpfully signposted 'Bürglhütte' but the route is anyway not too difficult to guess as it zigzags uphill. At Km 5.0 the road surface turns to high quality dirt/gravel but deteriorates slightly as you gain altitude, although it remains perfectly fine for normal cars in season (normally Jul-mid Oct). There are more junctions, all clearly marked, and at several points you need to drive (slowly) through electrified cattle stops (These consist of 2 light poles at about waist height which nearly meet in the middle, but are hinged at the sides and simply swing back as you drive through them. They are designed to do this without scratching your car and there is no need to move them by hand). After a further 4.7km you arrive suddenly after a right hand hairpin in front of the rustic Bürglhütte where there is room to park about a dozen cars in the farmyard. The hut is a working farmhouse which serves drinks and lunches in season and can be highly recommended.

From there, the route to Geissstein is clearly marked. It rises steeply on the left side of the farm crossing and merging with a gravel track at several points but always clearly marked with red-white-red markings on rocks. In contrast to much of the Alps the ground can be quite boggy after rain, and the underlying rock is not the ubiquitous limestone found to the north. At about 2000m altitude a small cattle shed is passed on its right hand side and the views really start to open out. From there, the path climbs the west side of the south ridge to top out at about 2200m with sudden and spectacular views north to the Brinhorn, Grosses Ochsenhorn and other northern limestone peaks. To the south the Gross Venediger is prominent in the main Alpine chain. The south ridge can then be easily followed a short distance to the summit where a large cross and a summit register await. On top it was about 5C and pretty windy, but no worse than an average day in Scotland, and I had to stifle a giggle when a party of Germans turned up dressed as if for a trek to the south pole. Due to the wind I resisted the temptation to descend the slightly scrambly west ridge, which looks as if it makes a nice round back to a pass above the hut (may be better to ascend the west ridge and descend the south). The descent back down the south ridge was accomplished within the hour and I decided to drive north to fit in a final peak of the holiday before returning to the hotel.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:665 m / 2179 ft
    Distance:4 km / 2.5 mi
    Route:S Ridge
    Trailhead:Bürglhütte  1698 m / 5574 ft
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:1 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 



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