Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the 50 mile guiding diet

Last Winter I logged down almost 15000km on snowy and icy highways in order to work as an independent guide here in Canada. So this Summer in Europe, I tried to offset my carbon footprint a bit with the intension of making a living as close as possible to my staging area, a lovely little mountain town called Lienz.  The furthest I ever had to drive to any of my guiding outings was 75km, from the "high alps" up north to the Dolomites in the south. 
Below are a few impressions of some lovely people I was guiding, and what this area has to offer.
Sarah on the exposed descent from Toblinger Knoten. A very steep Ferrata climbs the north side of the peak, a much easier one leads down the south side. The previous day saw us on top of the peak on the upper right, the Paternkofel.
The Buellelejoch hut, where we spend the night, would be in the upper left hand corner.
With Kerstin and Michael I climbed the normal Route to Cima Grande. We left very early that day to escape the crowds, therefore we could also enjoy the sunrise quite high on the mountain.

A classic Dolomite Panorama high above Cortina. Cinque Torri at the bottom center is a climbers paradise, a mixture between cragging and traditional multi pitching with easy access. Many a climber learned experienced the first footsteps into the alpine rock world in this setting. The massive Antelao, second highest peak in the Dolomites to the left, flanked to the right with the rugged rock pinnacles of the Croda da Lago.

July brought a lot of snow to the central alps. There was barely a day without precipitation and lightning storms were part of the daily menu. This is a cool crew of 4 young men who decided to fight their way up Grossglockner with me, despite a foot of new snow and a stiff wind. 
The same mountain and the same conditions a week later. I started out with a family of four, but 3 of them decided to stay at the last hut, the "Adlersruhe". The only one left was the youngest of us all, Frederik, who did not mind the bad weather. As an award we were the only ones on the summit of the highest and most popular mountain of Austria.

On the first day of a 6 day hut to hut traverse of the Dolomites around Cortina. The Gamble Family from California fought their way through ups and downs, in the end I think the challenges we had to face brought us all a bit closer together.

A little ways off the trail Sarah was lucky to find the world famous Edelweiss.

Spectacular sunset from the deck of the Lagazuoi hut. From there one can see the 5 highest mountains of the Dolomites.

A quick bath for me in a concrete water basin built in 1916 for the soldiers of the first World War.
One can find a lot of sad history along the old front lines in the Dolomites. 

Jonathon Gamble was a real trooper on our Dolomite traverse. 10 years of age but already cranking it on the 6 hour hikes and steep ferratas. This one is called the "Via Ferrata Merlone" and sits right above the cozy Fonda Savio Hut in the heart of the Cadini Group.

Dwarfed under the influence of the north faces of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo...700 meters of overhanging rock... soo much history, good and bad...
They are only about an hour drive away from my hometown and I guided all 3 of them at one point this summer.

Stan, during his afternoon outing, arriving on top of the Gusela, with Monte Pelmo behind in the clouds.

Another pleasure of European huts... a well deserved draft beer for David from Idaho. In the background one of the biggest rock faces of the Dolomites,
the 1200m NW face of the Monte Civetta.

Stan and Gina having a private moment in front of the Nuvolau Hut. This hut sits high above Cortina on top of a scenic mountain and is the oldest hut in the Dolomites. Coincidentally there is a Canadian hut keeper up there since decades providing great hospitality. 

One of the many afternoon lightning storms engulfs the Marmolata, the highest peak in the Dolomites.

A typical day on Grossglockner, imagine the crowds in good weather...

one of the rare breaks in the July monsoon, it only lasted for half an hour though.  This nice couple, Karin and Andreas, left their kids behind with the grandparents in order to spend a few days together enjoying the Osttirol Alps. The rather unusual iron pole sticking out of the rock acts as a belay when the snowpack is higher in earlier in the year. This enables the local guides to extend their guiding season for a few weeks, not a bad business idea. 

Multi pitching above Misurina Lake, amongst my 4 guests Carola, Claus, Ulrike and Mathias I had two priests on one rope. I felt I had a higher level of care than normal, and no cursing that day either.

Ruediger and Walter on top of Kerschbauner Toerlspitze, another sweet climb above the Karlsbader Hut in the Lienzer Dolomites.

The Lienzer Dolomites are still relatively quiet and offer a variety of climbing activities with short approaches from the Karlsbader Hut.
Climbing routes in all difficulties with up to 15 pitches,  5 exciting Ferratas, cragging and bouldering.
It is also a perfect pace to teach rock courses of all levels. 

Theresa is the daughter of the hut keepers of the Karlsbader Hut and works there all Summer...another very good reason to  check out this area.
During the evening break she enjoys the bouldering 5 minutes away from her workplace.
Since she does not have a crash pad, she is always in need for spotters.

Another evenig lightning storm rolls over the Isel Valley towards Lienz, with a population of 15000 the capitol of the little "Subprovince" of Osttirol .
In this area of exactly 2000 square kilometers you can climb 250 peaks above 3000m, more than half of the province lies above 2000m.
There is 3170m elevation gain within 20km from the lowest point in Lienz to the highest, the summit of Grossglockner.

Walter, well over 60 by now and retired, finds his new challenge in life in climbing long multi pitch routes in the Dolomites. The bench he is taking a well deserved rest on I build with good buddies of mine 21 years ago. It stands on top of a rock spire called "Kantenkoepfl", which is considered the hardest summit of the Lienzer Dolomites, since the normal route is rated 5.8.
My hometown Lienz is visible just behind Walters head, exactly 2000 meters below us.
We build the bench out of alpine larch wood, and despite all the warnings, it has not been destroyed by lightning in all those years.

The Gruenfelder couple just below the summit of the Cima Ovest di Lavaredo, their first multi pitch climb ever. They both did a great job and next Summer they want to learn how to do it on their own.

"Rasta Man" Hannes is a young mountain guide from Sexten, climbs 5.14 and establishes about 50 new climbs a year in the  Dolomites. I had the pleasure of running into him and his friends a few times in "his" mountains, the Sexten Dolomites, and the also in the bars around his hometown.
This picture shows him on the crux chimney on the "Via Normale" to Cime Grande di Lavaredo, a very popular guiding route up one of the most prominent mountains of the Dolomites.

If you know where to look for her, you will find this beautiful Madonna camouflaged just below the top of Cima Grande di Lavaredo, a little bit out of the way from the masses. Some good soul put it up there many years ago to protect climbers on the dangerous descent from this mountain. 1600m below us the famous Lago Misurina and the busy hotels and souvenir shops.

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