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Silvretta boulder

By: Claudia Colonia, Alessandro Penna
Country: Austria, Region: Tyrol, Town: Galtür (Tirolo)

It was in 2008 that Bernd Zangerl first introduced the Silvretta bouldering area and, given the beauty of the landscape, the quantity of problems and the mild climate, it’s worth having another look at this Austrian resort. The area was developed by Rene Gutman, Tom Feuerstein and the Alberg climbing team, and reached its heyday when many of America’s most famous boulders visited the Tyrol region to repeat the hardest lines, such as Anam Cara, Memento or Golden Gate, all obviously put up by Bernd Zangerl. Zangerl also published free the first free online guidebook (still available on www.klettern.de, www.climbers-paradise.com and www.galtuer.com ), thereby opening up the area to a larger number of climbers. For years this was the only (essential) topo that avoided people getting lost among the boulders. Recently a guidebook called Alpen en Bloc vol. 1 has been published making the area even more accessible, thanks to the detailed descriptions in both English and German. Obviously the best season to visit Silvretta is summer: despite the heat in the valley below, the weather up here is almost always cool and breezy.

The approximately 160 boulders lay on the flanks of a ski area, grouped into about ten sectors, orientated in all directions. The gneiss rock is obviously as rough as it can only be at these altitudes, and the climbing is almost always technical and crimpy. Although there are some overhanging problems, the style of climbing is always extremely demanding. There also are some highballs, such as the classic: “Zu jung um zu sterben” (translation: “too young to die”!), while a lot of other new scary lines were put up last summer during an event staged by Red Bull. There are too many five-start problems to mention, but highlights include: Memento 8B+/C (finger strength and power!), Anam cara 8B+/C, Golden gate 8B, the long Pretty belinda 8A+, British Airways 8A, Niviuk 8A, Rongbuck 8A+, X-ray 8A, the highball Falsche Götter 7C+, Flash face 7C, Baby lama 7C, Thor, Shangai syndrome and Alkatrac 7A+, Rubber Gun 7A, Don Quichote 6B+, Foto block 6A and La rampe 5. We’ve mention the grades to provide some basic information, but we feel seem were overgraded compared to those we know in many boulder areas in Italy.

If you want to escape the summer heat and climb somewhere fresh, on great problems, far away from more popular and chaotic area, Silvretta is the place for you! Happy climbing.

GETTING THERE

The bouldering area can be reached in two ways: the first is to go down from the camping towards Galtür. Park free of charge at the Wirl cable car, use the Silvretta Card and travel to the Birkhanbahn Bergstation in ten minutes. This is where the upper sectors are located, so it is best to choose this option when you want to boulder in these sectors. We advise against walking down towards the lower sectors and then walking back up again in the afternoon! Apart from the long walk, don’t forget that the last cable car leaves at around 5 o’clock, and considering how long it remains light, sometimes it’s a shame to leave this early before the sun starts setting (reckon circa 1/2 hour on foot from the lower boulders).

The second option which is, we believe, also the best one, is the following: park directly at the end of the piste at the Ballunspitzbahn Talstation (follow pink signs from the campsite for ‘Klettergebiet’), which is closed in summer. The car park costs 5 euros/day, and we recommend you to pay, since wardens check the car park daily (in this case you have to pay despite having a Silvretta Card)! From the car park to the first boulder in the Sekten sector you have to walk about ten minutes up a steep track, circa half an hour to reach the higher sectors.

NOTES

The roughness of the rock will certainly force you to take some rest days, even if you’re planning to stay here for just a week: Galtür has many attractions and is an ideal resort to enjoy the rest of your holidays. The Zeinissee campsite is located at the side of lake Zeini; if you’re planning on coming in mid-August, we recommend you book in advance. Just like all accommodation at Galtür, it provides a free Silvretta Card for your stay in the area.

The Card is useful both on rest days and climbing days: it provides free access to all cable cars and chairlifts that are used for the treks (of various difficulties) to the mountain huts. The card also provides free entrance to the indoor and outdoor and swimming pools (at Galtür and Ischgl), as well as the High Alpine Road (Hochalpenstraße), one of main approach roads to Silvretta; without the card this costs 34.50 euro one way, and 40.50 return. Updated prices are published on: www.grossglockner).

As to the food, there is no doubt that the Ballunspitze restaurant is the best you can find in Galtür: both the main courses and pizza are excellent, the ice creams are gigantic and worth eating at least once! Ballunspitze is also a free wi-fi cafè, as it is the Alpinarium, a museum/ cafè with a small climbing wall; this also offers a wide selection of local desserts and cakes.

The Ischgl Valley is fairly close to Imst (1.5 hours by motorway, for which you have to purchase the Vignette toll. This costs 8,70 euro but is valid for 10 days). Ischgl is a quiet and lovely town, and also offers the beautiful Kletterzentrum climbing gym, something well worth remembering in bad weather.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alpen en Bloc vol. 1, Panico Verlag

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Gneiss

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