Statistics: mileage 7.2 miles ascent 3500′ descent 2441′ 8 1/2 hours
I will never forget this day! I have never been so frightened and exhilarated at the same time. The good news was that I was able to overcome my fear and do the job at hand, climbing a series of rugged mountain cliffs unaided by a climbing harness. Our very limited trail guide sheet said nothing about trails going up cliffs steeper than the normal range of hiking activity and which might require climbing gear.
Upon leaving the refuge other hikers wished us luck as everyone left for their day’s treks, many for the top of this mountain. These walked down to a cable car which would carry them to the mountain’s top while the five of us headed toward a path straight up the mountainside (this should have, at least, made us think about asking a few questions). We immediately began to climb a steep little trail behind the refuge.
We continued to climb and made our way up a cirque, all the while watching the cable cars rise effortlessly above us up the mountain.
The pitch of the cirque and the presence of support cables made the ascent rather exhilarating.
Now the ascent (and the need for cables) began in earnest.
We were most grateful for these cables and the petons spaced along the rock-face as footsteps. We didn’t know enough to fear our lack of harnesses!
The final scramble straight up the cables and petons to the top!
We all made it!
We recovered from our hair-raising experience and began walking down the Schladming Glacier. We finally had time to think about what we had committed to and accomplished this morning, and felt pretty proud of ourselves!
The afternoon’s trail led us through the Gjaidstein, a vast, extremely rocky terrain.
The stark beauty of this area was punctuated by colorful wildflowers frequently nestled in between the rocks.
Just when we thought there would be no more cables a few more were thrown in for good measure, although these were tame compared to the cables we encountered earlier in the day!
Our refuge, Guttenberghaus, was a welcome sight as we clambered down the last descent.
The spectacular view of the mountains from the refuge included Ramsau, the location of World Cup ski races the previous winter.
Fortunately, a single room for the five of us was available; it was very cozy and sleep came quickly that night!