It was beautiful spring weather. Jörg picked Leonie and I up from Lindau and we drove to Sankt Anton. The plan was to do the Arlberger Winterklettersteig. It’s a via ferrata route that starts at 2650 m above sea level and heads along a ridgeline to the Vordere-Rendlespitze before dropping down to the Mitterkarspitze and continuing without rope (there’s no need for one) to the Roßfallscharte. It can be reached either by taking the ski lifts (Rendlbahn + Riffelbahn I + Riffelbahn II) to the start or by ascending the 1200 odd metres from Sankt Anton am Arlberg. We paid the 17.50 EUR for the one way lift pass and took the lazy way up.
At the top of the Riffelbahn II ski lift we put on our harnesses, strapped our skis to our packs and walked the minute to the start of the fixed route. The via ferrata is a mix between grades A to D. It ascends about 200 vertical metres gently and the guide says it should take 2.5 hours including getting back down. Hmmm… Here’s all the info. you might want in this handy pdf.
Anyway, the route was very nice. We had nice views down off the ridge in both directions. Leonie managed to control her fear-of-heights entirely and had only a bit of trouble on the first D section. We found the rope was often buried by the snow which meant walking sections along the ridge without protection. Falling wouldn’t be a good thing as it’s often quite exposed. Aside from the one section it didn’t seem too hard though. It pays to take an extra sling to extend your via ferrata set a little because at some points the steel rope is too high to clip onto without one.
Above left: We set off from the top of the Riffelbahn II after taking a collection of lifts up to 2650 m. It was warm, there wasn’t any wind and it was sunny and blue. Perfect. Above middle: Ascending to the Vordere-Rendlspitze. Above right: It was scrambly in parts.
Jörg was very good and talked Leonie through any bits that she was at first unsure about. Leonie did the whole thing wearing crampons which must have been a bit annoying on the rock but perhaps helpful on the snow. If the conditions had been different crampons could really be useful so I’d say it’s definitely worth having them in your bag. I found the snow was soft enough that they weren’t required while we were there.
We stopped for a break at the Mitterkarspitze before unstrapping our skis, switching our boots to ski mode and heading down to the East by snowy slopes to the Malfonbach. The snow was heavier than I had hoped and a bit difficult at times to turn in. Later I encountered a very small 20 m patch of delicious powder before we descended enough to have spring conditions. We skied all the way out the Malfonbach down to Pettneu. The last part of the 1500 vertical metre descent was down a very narrow ski track on which we could do nothing but snow plough.
From Pettneu we caught the bus back to Sankt Anton and then drove back to Lindau. We started around 10 am at the top of the lift and got to Pettneu around 4 pm. We certainly weren’t fast but our 6 hours was considerably longer than the 2.5 hours in the guide.
Definitely check the avalanche report before going out. It was level three when we went which I would normally not have gone out in. We had the impression that most of what was going to come down had already come down as we were there as there were already avalanche debris everywhere on the descent. However, a week after we did the tour two people died on the descent in warning level two.
Above left: The via ferrata followed the ridge line over the Vordere-Rendlspitze. Above middle: Still perfect weather at the end of the via ferrata. Above right: We had a long 1500 m descent from the end of the via ferrata down to Pettneu.
Above: A video of our adventure in shining 720p.
And some more photos below…