After a long holiday playing in the Alps, it was time to go home. Not too fast though, so, on my way north, I said my goodbyes to my friends and stopped at Zirl, near Innsbruck, to spend a few more days in the Karwendel.
My first goal was the Kaiser Max Klettersteig, a difficult aided climbing route on the Martinswand. I had read that the upper part was the hardest, but there was an exit from the route before that, at the so called Maximilian-Grotte.
The climb was a great experience, but as I got closer to the grotto, I judged that my arms were used up too much to continue safely, so I bailed out. I'll have to go back there some day!
EhnbachklammSolsteinhaus. I had called before to make sure they were open for business, because I new I would be arriving close to sundown and I wouldn't want to arrive at a closed hut that day.
As I got higher, there was a bit of snow left from the bad weather a few days back. It was melting and my feet got wet. I found out that my hiking boots needed some repairs, as some serious holes had started to appear.
Eppzirler Scharte, or ...?At the refuge, I enquired about the surrounding peaks, notably the Erlspitze and Großer Solstein. The warden said there was still quite a lot of snow up there, and nobody had ascended them recently. That's a pity, but so be it, no summits tomorrow then. Instead, I decided to go over the Eppzirler Scharte, a high pass into the next valley.
Next morning, all the trails around the hut were clear. The sun was out in force and it promised to be a beautiful day. I donned my mountaineering boots and set off on the trail to the pass.
The trail gained altitude very gently, and the snow started covering parts of it. There were no footsteps. Apparently nobody had been here recently. As I approached the pass, things got interesting. More and more snow on the trail, until it was totally covered up by the time I approached the ridge that I had to cross. The trail markers, which were mostly stones on the ground with some paint on it, were nowhere to be seen. So, which way to go?
Ascending the deeper snow in the gullies was hard work, and I really didn't want to find myself forced to come down again and try the other one! My map didn't help either, it only showed one gap ...
After thinking hard about it, I came up with a plan so I wouldn't have to come back. I choose the right gulley, which turned out to the wrong one, but I didn't have to come back down anyway. Later that day I learned that the gully that I ascended leads to the Erlscharte.
Back down in the safety of the valley, I enjoyed the hospitality of the Eppzirler Alm. They looked a bit surprised that someone had come down over the gap that day.