IntroductionThe Schober Group was always a desired destination of mine. As a teenager I made several hikes in the neighbouring mountains - in the Glockner, the Venediger and Lasörling groups, but always passed by this area. This summer I decided to take a visit.
I persuaded my former student, Peti, to come. To make the trip more desirable I promised him that we will take a detour to the Grossglockner also, if the weather allows this.
The plan was simple: using the Gernot Röhr bivouac hut as a base camp, we will try to explore as many routes as we can.
Although the forecast was very optimistic for these couple of days, the sky was usually at least partly cloudy which meant that the highest summits were almost always in clouds.
We started to walk up to the Peischlach saddle. Despite the long and thorough packing procedure I shortly realized that my backpack was rather heavy. Luckily the path was neither difficult nor too steep. We also had a light shower, from that kind which makes you vacillate whether it is worth to put on a raincoat or not.
When the buzzing finally stopped, I went out to find a nearby place with mobile network. This time it was easy: about 50 meters south of the hut I had found the perfect spot on the ridge. I sent home the daily "I'm alive, everything is OK" message, and walked back.
The Hohenwart glacier was connected to the ridge by a secured path, but it is better to say "via cordata e legnata" instead of "via ferrata" because after the first few meters we found wooden steps and thick ropes instead of the metallic hooks and cables.
The path continued as a long ascent, partly on the glacier, partly on the ridge. It wasn't very steep but we started to feel the distance in our legs. What's more, the small cloud on the peak started to grow and many more clouds accompanied it, so by the time we reached the Erzherzog-Johann-Hütte at the rock of Adlersruhe (around noon), the hut itself was already in fog.
So we proceeded towards Peischlachtörl and further to Kesselkeessattel on the same way we came in the morning. Finally we reached the bivouac around 8:30 PM, and noticed that we have roommates this night: a Dutch couple. They only came up to sleep here and to visit Böses Weibl, but the guy had some useful information about the area.
I didn't need any help to fall asleep this evening also. Although we couldn't reach the summit of Grossglockner, we walked around 25-30 km with a total elevation of 1800 meters.
We decided to go down to Elberfelder Hütte and further to the Gössnitzkopf Biwak. After spending a night there we planned to cross the ridge at the Glödistörl and to return to Kesselkeessattel through Böses Weibl.
Being on a rest day we didn't hurry. It was 11 AM when we arrived to Elberfelder Hütte, and almost noon when reached the trail to Roter Knopf. Here I decided to climb up to the peak while Peti was resting his knees and having a bath in the glacier stream nearby.
The path to Roter Knopf wasn't hard. Most of it was simple walking with some easy scrambling (maybe UIAA I+) at the upper part. It took three hours to ascend and descend. I wanted to spend some time on the peak but the clouds started to menacingly grow again so I hurried back soon.
By the time I got back to Peti the some light rain started to fall and the sky above us and the mountains around were again covered by clouds. We also heard remote thunders and just hoped to reach the bivouac before we get totally soaked. Naturally the rain was faster... :)
It took about an hour to get to the Gössnitz Scharte. The path wasn't difficult althuogh at some places we couldn't call it a "path" as we only followed the marks on a field of huge stones. According to the map we were walking along the edge of a glacier but it was covered by debris in such a degree that the ice was totally invisible.
The Gössnitz Scharte itself was a wide pass (which was a surprise for me as I thought that the word Scharte is used for narrow gaps on the ridge, like the Glocknerscharte). A marked path leaded us to the bivouac which was about fifty meters higher on a naze.
We discussed the scene and deduced that probably a storm ripped off the door and some rodent animals settled in the hut. The prepared sack indicated that the mats and blankets will be hopefully replaced with new ones.
We still had a lot of time before sunset so we prepared some food and tried to make the bivouac a little bit more comfortable. We placed the "stolen" blankets on the doss and put our isolier alu-mats above them. We also tried to do something with the door, but finally we only stove a nail at the fourth corner of the "door-foil" in such a way that made it possible to open or close it.
Finally, Peti leaned the door against the hole to protect the foil against the strong wind.
The following night wasn't among the best ones I can remember. The doss was hard, the wind was blowing and I hardly could wait for the dawn.
4th dayThe morning come with fewer clouds. At some moments we also could glance remote peaks like the Mangart in the Julian Alps or some peaks of the Sextener Dolomiten.
We tried to figure out what the route through Glödistörl is like. I had an old Kompass map indicating it as a marked trail. The online ÖK 50 however, showed only a part of the route, from the Lesach valley till the edge of the Glödis glacier. My AV map was almost the same, but with an additional unmarked path on the southern side to Glödistörl.
I also made a photo of the saddle from Roter Knopf, and after analysing all these information we deduced that previously it was a usable route but as the glacier shrinkened, the northern side of the saddle became dangerous. (I wonder if we were right.)
Peti's knees kept on hurting so finally we decided to go back to the Gernot Röhr Biwak on the same (and the shortest) way. Later it proved to be the right choice as a few minutes after our arrival the rain started to fall again and didn't stop for a long time.
Before leaving we tried to re-mount the door of the Gössnitzkopf Biwak. We had found one of its hinges and nailed it back to its place. I am not sure it was a long lasting solution but we could not do much more.
In the late afternoon the sky cleared a little (but not too much), and I decided to visit Böses Weibl. Peti was pessimistic, he said that I won't see anything from the top.
It took only 45 minutes to reach the top. The clouds were rapidly transforming and moving so there weren't any moments when I could see the bivouac and the peak at the same time. Böses Weibl has a twin peak. The cross stands on the northern one but the southern peak is only a few meters shorter and is really worth to visit as the panorama is different.
When I got back to the hut, Peti asked me if I had had rain because it was raining for a while at the saddle. A few minutes later it started again, and we had a lot of rain again at night.
5th dayWe woke up to a nice, mild dawn. I toasted the last four rolls for breakfast. As now the conditions seemed to be more stable, Peti ran up to Böses Weibl (He is a cycle racer). He returned an hour later, and after packing all our things we started to descend back to the car. Looking back to the peak Peti felt himself lucky as again a cloud settled on it just a few minutes after he returned.
From Peischlachtörl we followed the same path we were coming up on the first day and around 10 AM we arrived back to the car. Quick packing, driving down to Kals to buy some souvenirs and a loaf of fresh bread, and we started the long drive back to Hungary.