Ascent of Birnhorn on 2012-10-18

Climber: Martin Richardson

Date:Thursday, October 18, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:2634 m / 8642 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Without a map,I set off from Ullachtal in thick mist, past a picnic site with heavy duty barbecue facilities on a vigorous track that has a series of those nature trail information boards way up the hillside. As ever, the track started in forest and then went through dwarf pines to break out above the cloud level to reveal the rocky outline of the Steinberge Alps.
The path crosses a dry river bed and then becomes a mixture of easy cabled kletterstieg and concrete steps. There are a few sections of very narrow ledges that are quite exposed but not too difficult. To the right there are a couple of proper kletterstieg routes that lead to other tops in the range.
At the top of the corrie there was the now closed Passauerhutte – although it does have an open winterraum and a room, like a conservatory, where you can sit inside in poor weather. Beyond the hut was the evidence of the rain/snow earlier in the week and this evidence took some pioneering and navigating work. Both the pioneering and navigating slowed me down quite a bit – in other words, I lost the track for a while and spent a lot of time and energy ploughing through fresh deep snow.
When I eventually reached the steep rocky slopes of the summit ridge I was quite pleased with myself as I had found the marked trail, again. However, it seemed rather odd because instead of fixed metal cable etc the route up was aided by rather ancient rope that at times was decidedly frayed and worn. As I had already passed my planned ‘turn round’ time I very nearly gave up at this point. Half way up the slope (cliff?) I came across a sign pointing to a new route.Now they tell me!
There is no such corresponding sign at the bottom, mind you. But, anyway from this point on the difficulties were only presented by the snow and ice rather than the climbing difficulties. All the while I was muttering to myself ‘you should be turning back, I know the winterraum is open but you haven’t got anything but a sandwich made from stale bread and an apple, you should be turning back, you know’. The obsessive hillbagger is replying – ‘yeah, but you don’t want to have to do this all again, do you?’ Guess which side won?
The summit of Birnhorn (2634m P1665 i.e. an Ultra), as ever, has an unimaginative and dull cross spoiling the view. Otherwise the views were great – but the lateness of the hour was pressing. By now I was beginning to worry if I would be able to get as far as the Passauerhutte before dusk.
The new kletterstieg route turned out to be fairly easy, despite the snow. The only disadvantage it brought was that I had to pioneer a new route across the deep fresh snow in the corrie rather than use the one I had made on the ascent. Eventually I found my original track and then an easier way back to the hut, than I had used on the ascent.
By the time I had reached the hut there was just about enough daylight to be able to find my way around the room to discover the candles, lighters and wood burning stove. And, thankfully (because I was the first person to use the room this winter) a plentiful supply of teabags, powdered soup, chocolate and alcohol.
At daybreak, in the morning, I set off back down the mountain – with a hangover.

For pictures and context, see my blog 'Went up a hill and came down' at:
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Aid Climb
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes, Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
Ascent Statistics
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Martin Richardson
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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