Felsige Gärten, new mixed variation to Hängende Gärten in Austria's Tyrol
At the end of January Christian Picco Piccolruaz and Albert Leichtfried carried out the first ascent of Felsige Gärten, a mixed variation to the classic ice climb Hängende Gärten in the Tyrol, Austria.
There are some icefalls which have captured the imagination of generations of ice climbers and Hängende Gärten in Austria's Tyrol is one of these. Better still, as Albert Leichtfried explained in his brief selection of some of the most beautiful and representative ice climbs in the area, Hängende Gärten is considered the classic ice fall in Tyrol and when established in 1988, Andi Orgler and Otti Wiedmann wrote an important chapter in Austria's ice climbing history. The route remained the hardest in the region for many years and if little ice forms the second pitch becomes a serious outing, while the third pitch climbs a series of demanding vertical drips.
Well, a new chapted was added to this climb a few days ago when Austrian Mountain Guide Christian "Picco" Piccolruaz added bolts to the second and third pitch and substituted the original belay bolt, creating a mixed variation for poor winters called "Felsige Gärten" - rocky gardens - which climbs the same line with difficulties estimated at M8 / WI7-.
Things of this sort have already happened in the past - Call of the Curtain springs to mind, the mixed variation to the famous Curtain Call above the Icefields Parkway in Canada established by Will Gadd in 2001, but given the importance of Hängende Gärten, we needed to check in with Piccolruaz to find out more. He explained: "I bolted the route ground-up on 14 January together with Erich Gatt, then Albert and I freed it on 28 January. Felsige Gärten follows a line up the rock while Hängende Gärten, when it forms, is a few meters out from the rock face so the 4 bolts I place on pitch 2 are too far to clip or hidden beneath the ice. On the second belay I substituted the original belay bolt and added another one to make the abseil safer, and then I added a further two bolts on pitch 3. Here too, in good winters, I think the bolts are covered in ice and therefore can't be used. I believe this new variation offers a new possibility and doesn't take anything away from the original line. But the best thing to do, as always, is go and check it out for yourselves and repeat the line!"