Ascent of Zuckerhütl on 2022-07-08

Climber: Jörn Fiege

Date:Friday, July 8, 2022
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Ski Lift
    Elevation:11506 ft / 3507 m

Ascent Trip Report

Zuckerhütl is the highest peak of the Stubai Alps and as such a much coveted peak. It is, however, also a peak where the climate change can be seen and felt as the summit cone of Zuckerhütl is losing more and more of its snow cover, leaving often brittle rock with an ever increasing risk of rock fall. Actually, the mountain guides of Neustift no longer guide to the main summit in summer for they consider the risk too high. They do, however, guide to the slighty lower west summit of the peak.

Still, I desired to climb the true summit of this peak, figuring that in the right conditions it should still work in summer. Please note that winter ascents with ski ought to my knowledge still be possible.

Yet, things are tricky. Obviously, the mountain should be attempted early in the season while the winter's snow cover would still hold and the glacier be navigable. Then again the easy access offered by the gondola from Mutterberg would be interrupted between winter and summer season due to the gondola's revsion / maintenance. Consequently, there usually is only a small window of opportunity to climb this peak.

Having met my mountain guide at the valley station we took all three sections of the gondola to the top, already well beyond 3000m altitude. Initially losing some elevation towards Aperer Pfaff we were soon navigating the South slopes of this mountain. The previous night's snow fall required us to tread carefully but considering this it went reasonably fast.

Soon enough we had reached our first destination, Pfaffenjoch (3208m high). Here we roped up to cross the glacier North of Zuckerhütl. We had determined before that a summit ascent would be possible as a) we had ascertained that it had been climbed on previous days, b) we were the first party of the day and c) the weather conditions were decent. Actually, we did not don our crampons as the recent snow fall offered excellent footing, yet they will often be required on this glacier. Also, it should be expressly noted that the glacier does have quite a few crevasses so a rope is absolutely mandatory.

The final push to the summit is then relatively straightforward scrambling. Never too difficult (I would say a couple of sections warrant UIAA grade II) but often exposed and even more often in extremely brittle rock. You clearly want to be the first party on this mountain and not have any other parties above you. Needless to say that a helmet is absolutely imperative here! Further up the rock quality somewhat improved and there were also frequent possibilities to protect the climb.

We got to the summit in approx. 2:45 hours which according to my guide is a decent time. Even though neither distance nor elevation gain are too big you should not underestimate the altitude and the generally lower progress made in such conditions (glacier, rocks, etc.). The return to the top of the gondola was just the same. Glad to have made it to the top!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2647 ft / 805 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2647 ft / 805 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12 km
    Grade/Class:UIAA grade II
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground, Scramble, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Ski Poles, Guide
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1909 ft / 581 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1171 ft / 357 m; Extra: 738 ft / 224m
    Loss on way in:738 ft / 224 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:Schaufelnieder - Pfaffenjoch
    Start Trailhead:Schaufeljoch  10335 ft / 3150 m
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1909 ft / 581 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1171 ft / 357 m; Extra: 738 ft / 224m
    Gain on way out:738 ft / 224 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:Pfaffenjoch - Schaufelnieder
    End Trailhead:Schaufeljoch  10335 ft / 3150 m
    Time:2 Hours 

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