Ascent of Hochkönig on 2010-09-26

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
Richard Tibbetts
Date:Sunday, September 26, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:9649 ft / 2941 m

Ascent Trip Report

We had spent the night at the very pleasant friendly hotel Alpenhof (N47 27.549 E13 22.876) in Sankt Martin am Tennengebirge.
From the S end of Bischofshofen (on the A10 S of Salzburg), drive W on highway 164 to Muhlbach. At the E end of this village, at N47 22.583 E13 07.874, a good road branches N and winds its way uphill to Arthur-Haus (hotel). Immediately past (N of) the small hotel car park is a barrier (press button to open) with a large car park immediately above (N47 24.612 E13 07.748, 1504m). We started hiking at 09:15, although an earlier start would have been useful, given the slow snowy conditions we encountered higher up. The trail starts at the NW corner of the car park, heads W a short way, passes some buildings then bends N. For the initial 2km it is wide and easily graded, forming the access road to Mitterfeldalm (refreshments evidently available although there was little sign of life this dull drizzly Sunday morning). A signboard has a topo map showing the summit route. From here a good footpath continues NW, descending a little, generally easy (YDS class 1) but with a short exposed section (cable protected) and a few loose gullies to be crossed, where a little care is required. In 1.8 km from Mitterfeldalm the trail turns WSW (a large boulder with a small tree on top provides an amusing little scramble). By now the trail is fairly rough (YDS 2), and climbs past the cliffs of Torsaule, which rises sheer on the R side of the path, crosses a rocky bowl to gain the E ridge of the mountain. Here through cloud, we glimpsed impressive cliffs to the S. The trail winds its way uphill, bypassing a number of rocky summits, heading generally WSW, marked by frequent poles. Without these we would have had difficulty finding the route, as the trail was obscured by fresh snow. At N47 25.386 E13 04.938 (2728m) is a fork, with a lower trail descending R to cross a glacier. This lower route (blue poles) may be a little easier as it would omit a number of ups and downs totalling approx 100m, although it may have been more onerous today in deep fresh snow. We kept L (red poles) following the higher route. In an hour or so the two routes rejoin (signpost) and the trail bends L, round a buttress, then curves R to reach the foot of a 20m cliff, which is ascended via an easy angled ladder (cables). Above this, a broad ridge leads S to reach the summit in 200m. At the summit is a hut (Matra-Haus) with the summit cross 15m further S (N47 25.221 E13 03.746, 2943m). We looked out across a cloud layer with a few of the higher summits just visible, including Hoher Dachstein to the east. Above us was a cloud ceiling, with a narrow strip of blue sky between. The hut was manned, and we enjoyed a drink and a bowl of soup (we were the first customers of the weekend - and it was now Sunday afternoon). After 45 minutes we descended at 16:00, soon passing a simple trig block (N47 25.280 E13 03.772, 2928m) before reaching the ladder. We made better progress on the way down, with our upward trail to follow back down, still visible despite the snow which had been falling gently all day. We passed a young couple who were heading upwards, both wearing blue jeans which were wet to the knees. Despite this somewhat unsuitable leg gear they were very cheery and making good progress, intending to spend the night at the summit hut. The light was fading fast as we skirted the foot of the Torsaule cliffs and it was fully dark by the time we reached Mitterfeldalm, although we didn’t need our head-torches on the excellent trail. We were back at the car at 20:30 and immediately headed down (the car park barrier was open, saving us the 3.50 Euro fee). We were back at the Alpenhof a little after 21:00. Despite the lateness of the hour, we were served an excellent meal with a nice bottle of local wine to celebrate an enjoyable ascent of a fine summit, made a little challenging by the first snows of the coming winter.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5371 ft / 1636 m
    Extra Gain:328 ft / 99 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12.4 mi / 20 km
    Route:East ridge
    Trailhead:Arthur-Haus  4934 ft / 1503 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble
    Weather:Snowing, Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes

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