A selction of some of the best and most representative icefalls in the Tyrol, Austria, by local Mountain Guide Albert Leichtfried.
Austria's Tyrol isn't only a summer hotspot for rock climbing fanatics, it's also an important and popular destination for winter ice climbing. The region offers a stunning selection of routes, from safe beginner climbs such as those in the Kitzgartenschlucht located deep in the Pitztal or the Kühtaier Mixedgartl high in the Ötztal, to numerous low-end 'plaisir' ice falls and cutting-edge mixed areas such as Diebsöfen and Dryland, located directly above Innsbruck. The range and choice of climbs is outstanding and there is certainly something to suit everyone's tastes.
Drive though the Tyrol and you will be taken aback by the sheer amount of ice on offer, as the main valleys all boast important ice climbing areas. In a good winter season the Stubaital, Zillertal, Ötztal, Pitztal and Kaunertal all offer over a hundred routes each. It comes as no surprise therefore that new routing began in earnest circa 20 years ago and continues actively to this day. Tyrol's ice climbing scene, driven by the likes of Andreas Orgler, Sepp Gwiggner, Florian Schranz, Michael Höllwarth, Bernhard Schiestl and Georg Kluckner to name but a few, is highly motivated and constantly on the lookout for new ice and mixed lines.
Although most icefalls are described in the 2004 Alpinverlag guidebook 'Eisklettern in Tirol', many new routes have been climbed since then... A great reason to check out what exactly is on offer in this cold Austrian Eden!
The Burgsteinfall is a very popular icefall in the Ötztal, ideal to get a feel for 6 grade ice. The Burgsteinfall is one of the most popular ice climbs in the Ötztal thanks to its easy access and the possibility to try some 6th grade ice on toprope. In good winter two ice variations and a mixed variation are on offer.
First ascended by Tyrolean ice climbing legend Andreas Orgler, Hängende Gärten is the classic ice fall in Tyrol, fullstop. An important chapter in Tyrol's ice climbing history was written in 1988 when Orgler made the first ascent and the route remained the hardest in the region for many years.
The high lying Renkfälle offer an impressive, breathtaking alpine ambient and almost a dozen icefalls ranging from WI4 to WI6 are located within a stone's throw of each other. The large variety on offer and the alpine environment close to the refuge Anton-Renk-Hütte ensure that this is one of the best ice climbing areas in the Tyrol. Most routes were first ascended by Florian Schranz and Egon Netzer and the classic Renkfall is extremely popular with almost constant difficulties throughout its 3 pitches.
Long and serious icefall which offers some of the finest ice climbing ever. Watch out for falling ice on pitch 3. Exact timing is crucial for a successful ascent as ice seldom forms along the entire line. Do not underestimate the length of this very vertical icefall.Due to the large amount of water in the reservoir, Swami Prem Darshano and his climbing partner Hanspeter Schrattenthaler decided to row across to the Krönung icefall in their boat. In the middle of the lake they suddenly noticed the boat had a hole... with a bit of luck ? while one paddled frantically the other bailed the water with his helmet ? they managed to reach the shore. By no means disheartened, they returned a few days later to do battle, but after 150m of vertical ice they were forced to give up beneath a massive ice curtain. They called the icefall 'Die Krönung', the coronation, and the route was eventually first ascended in its entirety by Andreas Orgler and friends. Since its first ascent in the '90's, the route has received under a dozen complete ascents.
Monsterline is a long and demanding icefall. After a 'warm-up' on the first two pitches the monster awaits on the upper section with continues vertical climbing.The route owes its name to this upper section: the gigantic ice formation, almost always vertical, really does look like a monster on closer inspection. Those who want to beat this beast have to prepare for battle!