Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
I’m continuing digitizing my old slides, well into box 2, covering 1975 and 1976. I thought I’d share the couple of films I took of my first alpine season.
Three of us; Alan, Andy and myself got the train from London to Austria where the Otztal Alps handily had its own station. A bus down to the end of the valley took us to the small village of Vent, our base for three weeks. We camped outside the village, beside the main trail out into the mountains. Our first morning we headed up the trail to the Martin Busch Hutte, which was to be our advance base for the next couple of nights.
Early next morning we set off up the Marzelferner glacier just above the hut. We clung to the edge at first to avoid the large crevices before heading up to the joch (pass) below Hintere Schwarze. which at 3,628m is the 5th highest in Austria. From the joch we did the E-W traverse. The summit was occupied by a guided party of older folk, mainly dressed in lederhosen and Tyrolean hats. The guide told us off for not wearing our full gear , but the older type crampons we had were often more trouble on the mixed ground we had just come up. After another night at the hut, feasting on the filing and cheap Bergsteiger essen, we climbed Similaun (3,599m 6th highest). The Marzellkamm ridge started from behind the hut and took us up to the normal route at the head of the glacier we had crossed the previous day. Our ascent finished up the snow-covered North ridge. Our return route followed the border ridge the range of peaks forming the border between Austria and Italy. and dropped down to the Similaun Hut, which was just across the Italian Border. It was still time of some tension between Austria and Italy over the South Tyrol question, but the hut was open so we treated ourselves to a cooked lunch. This is also the spot where the mummified body of the 5,000 year old Oztal man was found many years after our visit. FRom the border we returned down the Neiderjoch glacier moraine past the hut to our tents at Vent.
Our next climb was up Wildspitze, the Tyrols highest summit and second highest in Austria at 3,772m. During the night in the Breslauer Hutte below the mountain there was a heavy snow storm, so a lot of the climbers decided not to go ahead and stayed in bed as we left in the morning. We also stuck with our planned route up the SE ridge, over the subsidiary peak of Urkund. There was a covering of snow, which made the climbing just a bit more interesting. The crux was a rock wall above a steep drop of to our right. We roped up for this bit, finding it a bit of a thrutch. The cloud came down as we headed to the summit, spoiling the view and promising more snow. We skipped the usual summit stop, without any summit picture as we quickly headed down the ridge to the small Mitterkar pass and glacier. This was the normal ascent route, quiet that day as most people had bailed out. Fortunately the glacier didn’t have crevices so we didn’t worry too much as we fled down the snow-covered ice.
A couple of days later we were up at another of the well placed huts, this time the Vernagthutte, We climbed Hochvernagt Spitze, another of the top peaks at 3,535m. From the same hut we started up the long walk up glacier to Weissbut over Hintergrasl-Sp (3,325m) onto Gr Vernagtferner. But we were caught in a total white-out and called off the attempt. This was a dangerous glacier surrounded by cliffs.
After this let down we headed east of Vent, across the valley from our other climbs. This time it was the long climb up to Ramol-Joch (3,186) before dropping to Ramol Hause hut, perched on the edge of the mountain at 3,006m. It clung to the ridge above the large Gurgl glacier, which is now a busy winter skiing area above Obergurgl. That night we were agin hit by a dramatic storm, thunder and lightning playing around the hut all night. In the morning, the only other climber in the hut, a Dutch girl, made a hasty retreat back to Obergurl. But we had a high ridge to cross to get back to Vent, and a couple of days to spare, so we waited the storm out. It wasn’t much better after a further night, but we decided to have try Ramol Kugel – the Gross peak. There was too much snow so we only made it to Kleine Ramol (3,351m) before we had to turn back and head back to Vent. As we dropped down into the valley we were treated to great views across to Wildspitze.
After all the Bergsteiner Essen and camp food (dried meat with rice), that evening we decided to treat ourselves to a full mixed grill in the village cafe. It was magnificent. After that it was the long 2 day bus, train, ferry and bus journey back home after a great three weeks in the Alps..