Climbing in Tannheimertal 2019

Ari and I hired a car and drove to Tannheimertal on Saturday. The weather was pretty poor which wasn’t what Google had promised us. It was rainy and grey but by the time we got there the rain had stopped and as we walked up to the Gimpelhaus it continued to improve. We were both a little ill so we didn’t do much in the afternoon except going for a short walk up behind the hut before the sun set.

Gimpelhaus from up the hill (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)Wildlife (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)Ari walking (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)Cris (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)View of far off mountains (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)

1) Ari and I drove to Tannheimer Tal for a weekend of climbing.

2) We went for a walk in the evening from the hut.

3) Autumn evening light.

4) I took the opportunity to fly my drone from above the hut.

5) It was a nice evening for a walk.

On Sunday we got started late but the sun was out and it was quite warm so we decided we’d try to do something. We headed up behind the hut to the bottom of the cliffs and set up to do the Hütten Grat. I did the this climb with Sam, Sebas, Johannes, and Angelique last year. It’s four easy pitches of well secured climbing with a nice view back towards the hut and into the valley.

The sun began to disappear as we climbed and it was quite windy. It was enjoyable though. We climbed quickly (for us), swapping after each pitch. Another group was close behind and due to this and the weather we tried to be efficient Germans.

We abseiled from the top down in three pitches and then headed back down to the hut for Kaiserschmarrn. Then it was a short walk back down into the valley and a drive back to Lindau.

Ari climbing (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)Ari belaying (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)Ari climbing (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)Ari at the bottom of the climb afterwards (Climbing Tannheimer Tal 2019)

1) We climbed the Hüttengrat behind the hut.

2) It got quite windy and cold so we tried to move quickly.

3) It’s a nice easy climb with big views down to the hut and out into the valley.

4) We finished the climb and headed back down to the hut and then back down into the valley.

Löwenzähne Westkante

Philipp, Julie, Ari and I headed to Schuttannen on a warm Autumn day. We packed our climbing stuff onto our backs and headed to the Löwenzähne climbing area. I was carrying everything including the kitchen sink as usual.

We arrived before the sun had reached the bottom of the route but we were soon climbing over warm sun drenched rock. I lead the first pitch and was instantly reminded about the alpine bolting feeling of the climb. Philipp and Julie followed the topo and started a little to the right and did a slightly different first pitch. I met them at the first anchor. There was a second anchor there and I set up there and belayed Ari up. Due to her skiing accident at the start of the year she was not going to lead any of the pitches. We swapped around and continued up after Julie and Phil. Julie had lead the second pitch which has the crux (5-). I remember it from last year with Johannes and the year before with Leonie. It’s super polished and scary due to the bolting. I got through the pitch and arrived to find Julie belaying Phil on the 3rd pitch. I set up and Ari came up after. The third pitch has no bolts but is easy. Phil had placed a friend and I placed an extra sling and we were then up to the first tooth of the “Lion’s teeth”.

View up to the crag (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Julie begins climbing (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1)We had a 40 minute (or around about that) walk from Schuttannen where we had parked to the Löwenzähne. They are huge towering towers, “the lion’s teeth”.

2) Julie lead the first pitch with Phil to the right and I lead the pitch directly up the “kante”.

Ari smiling (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Cris (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Ari came up in nachstieg as she didn’t want to risk any falls on her injured knee.

2) The towers are airy and spectacular.

Phil and Julie were already near the start of the fourth pitch. It’s a small walk along a narrow section to the start of the pitch. Johannes and I bailed last year after watching some people on this pitch. Ari and I sorted out our rope and walked over to watch Phil struggle to remove a nut that Julie had placed as a dummy runner at the beginning of the pitch. After perhaps 15 minutes he was successful. I lead the pitch again. It was a bit scary but ok.

I arrived at the anchor and found the others there trying to work out how to proceed. The anchor was just a single ring and Julie had backed it up with a sling through the rock. I waited while Phil started climbing. The pitch began with a short down climb and then a stretched splits type move to a parallel rock face. It was basically a large crack that you had to climb into then bridge across to the other side. Phil managed it and then lead the rest of the pitch with its sparsely placed bolts.

Julie leads the second tower (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Julie bridging the gap (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Julie got into the pitch from the middle abseil point. Johannes and I had bailed here last year and abseiled down to the right. Leonie and I had also exited here the year before after trying a different route around to the left slightly above where Phil is standing. If you look down to the left from where Julie is you can see the tops of the trees far far below.

2) We spent a long time trying to decide how to cross this crack. The problem in leading it was that you were first down climbing then you bridged across to the other side of the crack and began climbing again. The first bolt was higher meaning if you fell you’d fall into the rope and then smash into the belayer’s side of the crack. I certainly didn’t like this part of the climb and was happy to get to the first bolt on the pitch. It also caused problems for the climber on top rope for similar reasons. A fall meant falling into the crack and smashing against the side wall.

It was a bit difficult to second it as the rope, if it were too tight, would pull you down to the other side of the crack and if you slipped you would swing down and hit the other side. This was a bit suboptimal for Ari. Once Ari reached the anchor I explained the situation. One option was for us both to abseil into the crack. The base was large enough that you could walk around a bit and belay from there. I climbed into it once a few years ago while climbing with Leonie. The problem is there is no anchor so although you are kind of on the ground in a way, you can’t secure yourself there.

We decided against abseiling as if I slipped near the edge before clipping the first bolt it might be possible to fall out of the bottom of the crack and plummet 50 m to the ground below. Instead Ari came up with a cunning idea to create a system of slings. I threaded a bit of prusik cord through a hole in the rock and we attached a “maillon”. Ari attached a million slings. The idea was she would climb into the crack attached to the sling then sit in the rope so she was pulled into the middle of the crack. She’d then fight over to the other side and grab the first bolt and remove the slings.

Julie and Phil waiting at the top (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Ari belaying from across the gap (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Julie and Phil waited for us at the top of the highest tower while Ari and I tried to sort out the problem of crossing the crack.

2) Ari belaying me from the other side of the crack. You can see the drops on each side of the towers giving a very airy feel.

I climbed into the crack. For me it was pretty easy to bridge across. I didn’t like the next part though due to the distance between the bolts. The climbing was easy though and the holds were big, just that you couldn’t afford to fall. I arrived at the top of the last pitch and set up to belay Ari. She managed the spalter (crack) very well and had a bit of trouble with the slings. I was hoping like crazy something wouldn’t go wrong here as how would the rescue look? She climbed up to the top where the three of us were sitting.

It wasn’t so long before sunset and we set about checking out the abseil route. We decided to do it in two pitches although the topo says it is possible with 50m half ropes in one. We didn’t feel like throwing the rope off the side and hoping it was down. Phil went first and started setting up the second rope for the second abseil. I went last just as the sun was setting. The second abseil was short but dodgy as it was from a bolt. The topo says there is a ring there but we couldn’t find it.

Ari on last pitch (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Us at the top (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Phil abseils (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Ari scrambling up the somewhat scary last pitch. It’s a long long way down.

2) Us all at the top getting ready to abseil before the sunsets.

3) The sun was about to set. Phil abseiled first and set up the second rope using a bolt for lack of any other place to anchor.

Phil and Julie took the path through the forest back to the car and Ari and I headed back down to the first pitch to collect the rest of the gear including the piles of food I had hauled to the start which we hadn’t eaten. We had taken wraps with us on the climb thinking we’d eat them at the summit but in the end we didn’t have enough time. The rest of the light vanished and Ari and I walked back to the car under the stars.

A good day out with some scary bits.

Ari and Cris at the top (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)Sunset (Löwenzähne Westkante Sept 2019)

1) Ari and Cris just before sunset.

2) The rock looked amazing silhouetted against the sunset.

Above: The topo from

Arlberg Giro 2019

This year we were treated to a cool but dry start and a sunny and warm finish. The conditions were almost perfect. The race went quite ok but I was a bit slower compared with last year although perhaps this was within the variability you can expect from one year to the next due to things like bunches etc.

My legs were alright on Arlberg Pass and I had a good group up the valley towards the climb up to Biehlehohe. As usually happens though, my legs died on the climb and I was quite slow. It looks like the timing mats weren’t working for the climb as there isn’t anything  listed in the results for this stretch but I guess it took a little over an hour to ascend. My legs just didn’t seem to have any zing. Maybe the longer week of cycling at the Giro delle Dolomiti had something to do with it. It’s a bit demotivating having other cyclists zooming past but it has sometimes been worse in previous years.

At the top of the climb I stopped and grabbed something to eat before descending. I was somewhere in the middle between bunches. There was nobody around. I had had a large bunch on the way to the climb but that had got away. So I rode alone for maybe 15 km(?) before a couple of guys caught up and then later a few more. We had about 15 in the group as we neared the end of the descent.

I usually suffer on the ride up the valley but perhaps I had had time to recover on the descent and the pace up the valley seemed slower than usual. Unfortunately a few km before the finish a huge group caught up and we rode with them to the finish. My legs were so flat that I couldn’t do my usual sprint over the finish line and came in at the back of the group. Still my time wasn’t awful. I measured something like 5 hours 2 minutes but the official time was faster. This was because they neutralised about 6km of the descent after Arlberg Pass due to roadworks. This removed about 15 minutes of the race and meant I descended more slowly than normal. So between this and the slow descent from Biehlehohe I may have lost perhaps 15 minutes meaning I would have had the same time as last year. So all-in-all it wasn’t a bad performance just that I felt I should have been faster on the Biehlehohe climb and was hoping I might be a bit fitter this year.

I didn’t hang around long after the race. I packed up my tent at the campsite in Pettneu and caught the train back to Lochau.

Cris before the race (Arlberg Giro 2019)Brochure (Arlberg Giro 2019)

Above left: This year I was alone at the race. I took the train from Lindau and stayed at the campsite in Pettneu. Here I am at the race registration. Above right: I’ve ridden the Arlberg Giro a lot, almost every year since 2012.

Camp 2 (Arlberg Giro 2019)Camp 3 (Arlberg Giro 2019)

Above left: The campsite in Pettneu is near a small stream. Above right: Each year I take a picture similar to this one.

At the finish line (Arlberg Giro 2019)

Above: Dancing girls have been a feature at the finish line for the last few years. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing.

Arlberg Giro 2019 Time: 4:47:29,4 (6km less than usual) Place Overall: 286 / 1355 Place Category: 70 / 277

Arlberg Giro 2019 Results