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01/01/2013: Lucky Strike (WI6, 45m, Hansjörg Auer & Heiko Wilhelm)
Photo by Elias Holzknecht
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Ötztal, difficult new Austrian icefalls by Auer, Wilhelm and Nössig


Hansjörg Auer, Heiko Wilhelm and Mathias Nössig have made the first ascent of three difficult new icefalls in the Ötztal, Austria, including Rätselburg (WI7+, 80m).

After various winters sport climbing in Spain, Hansjörg Auer felt the urge for ice and cold. Unsurprisingly, three difficult new icefalls sport his name in "valley", the Ötztal. Despite being climbed with different partners, all three routes have one common denominator: not a single bolt was placed. In other words, these falls were protected with ice screws and trad gear.

I deliberately graded my routes according to the WI scale" Auer explained to Planetmountain "because I believe the future of ice climbing isn't via ice and mixed climbs protected here and there with the odd bolt. The challenge for me is to ascend an ice fall which can be protected with camming devices and ice screws. Otherwise it's best to be patient and wait for another year which provides more ice."

The grades of these three climbs are "important" to say the least. In particular the WI7+ attributed to Rätselburg makes it one of the hardest outings in the country. Hence Auer's statement "one of my hardest ice climbs so far."

Ötztal new ice climbs
Spongebob (WI7, 65m)
First ascent: Hansjörg Auer & Heiko Wilhelm 30/12/2012
Location: Talkessel von Längenfeld, altitude 1900m
Amazing line along a nice and steep wall to finish on an icicle.

Lucky Strike (WI6, 45m)
First ascent: Hansjörg Auer & Heiko Wilhelm 01/01/2013
Location: Polles Tal (side valley, altitude 1900m)
One of the most outstanding lines in Ötztal. An impressive ice column high up in a side valley.

Rätselburg (WI7+, 80m)
First ascent: Hansjörg Auer & Mathias Nössig 03/01/2012
Location: Weilers Aschbach, close to the famous icefall Feierabend WI4, altitude 1400m
Serious climb along a steep north facing wall on thin ice and overhang rock for the start.

Descent: abseil off all three routes

- Ice climbing in Tyrol, Austria





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