The Steiner route is the most famous route through the south face, because it was the first there which leads more or less directly to the summit (the first route ever was Pichl route, but it's entry and exit are a few 100 meters east from the summit). First ascent was done by Georg and Franz Steiner, September 22nd, 1909. The upper half is more difficult and has more exposed parts than the lower half. The height difference between the entry and the exit is 850m.
Stonefall: though rock quality is very good, there is danger of stonefall from the summit area, especially at the easier parts in the lower third. It's best to pass the lower third early in the morning.
Snowfield:An often underestimated problem is the steep entry snowfield, which has to be traversed (severe accidents already happened here). Though often a track leads to the rock base, a small ice axe or at least a hammer, or lightweight crampons are an advantage.
Duration: Under normal conditions the climb takes 4 to 6 hours, but if there are many people above you, it will last longer. Especially in the upper part it's difficult or not possible to pass others.
Orientation may be another problem. There are some variants, which can be erroneously entered, but they are all more difficult than the original route (e.g. the "Munich chimneys" UIAA -V, direct summit exit UIAA V+, and others).
Weather: Bad weather comes usually very fast from northwest or west and cannot be seen early enough from this side. It can take only one hour to change from clear blue sky to a thunderstorm with snowfall in August, and a temperature drop of 10 degrees or more. The tenant of the hut knows best, how the weather will develop in the next 24 hours, but it's also good to know the official weather forecast. The part from the end of the Steiner ledge up to the exit may be more or less wet for a week or two after long bad weather periods. Though that's not a big problem, it becomes very problematic when temperature falls below the freezing point.
Occasionally people were trapped in the icy chimneys, and needed to be rescued (see also helicopter rescue out of the southface, 3 pictures).
ApproachStarting point is Dachsteinsuedwand hut (1910m). Follow the marked trail to the Auretskar shortly downwards. You will see after 2-3 minutes a conspicuous track to the right, which you have to follow. It leads you beneath the southwest walls of peak "Scheiblingstein" to the upper rocky end of "Auretskar". Follow a rocky gully, which leads you to "Hundsriese". There above scree and rocks towards northwest, later through some low walls up to the crest, which comes down from "Dachsteinwarte" (that is the terrace on the upper edge of the southface, where the small "Seethaler" hut is located). Now from the crest downwards to the big cirque below the southface. See the 3 conspicuous buttresses in the wall directly below the main summit. Below of each of them there is something looking like a very steep roof ridge. The Steiner route leads over the middle roof ridge to the middle buttress. Traverse now first over scree, later over steep (and in the morning hard) snow to the entry in the fall line of the middle buttress (See this foto).
In the fall line of the middle buttress there is only one place, where it is possible to climb left up in this difficulty (III to IV) to the entry of a long crack (look into the first 100m of the wall). The crack leads to a terrace, where you have to climb up left to a small scree-filled depression. Now again up to the left (main direction is always left, until you reach the begin of the easy roof ridge! Don't climb to the right to early!). From the begin of the roof ridge, near it's right edge, there are easy 3 to 4 pitches (approximately 150 climbing meters, UIAA II-III) upwards to the base of the giant buttress. On it's left side very steep and exposed over short walls and chimneys upwards. 70m above the base of the buttress 2 possibilities:
1) Salzburger ledge: (most climbers use this one, though it's not the original route, but it's easier and far not so exposed as the Steiner ledge). 70m above the base of the buttress follow a ledge to the right around a corner, where you see a cave creating an overhang above the ledge. Climb to the cave and either immediately before or immediately after the cave climb up to the next ledge (your decision, same difficulty). Follow the ledge until it's interrupted. Traverse the exposed interruption (4m) and follow the ledge ONLY A FEW METERS to a chimney, climb it up ONLY 6 METERS and leave it to the left to reach the original route again at the small niche after the interruption of the Steiner ledge. If you traverse to far to the right, you will reach the "Munich chimneys" (UIAA -V)
2) Steiner ledge: (original route, very exposed ledge. It's necessary to crawl with the left part of the body on the ledge, with the right part hanging in the air).
From the "70m above the base" point follow the cracks and chimneys further 50m until you reach a small platform below overhangs, where a very conspicuous ledge leads to the right. It's sometimes steep, with overhangs over it, and narrow enough so that there is only space for the left part of the body. After approximately 50m it is interrupted. Traverse the 3m interrupt first a little bit downward, then up to the place where the ledge starts again and a few meters to the right into a niche (Salzburger ledge comes from right below). Do not follow the ledge from here to the right (except if you want to climb the Munich chimneys, UIAA -V).
follow the chimneys and cracks straight upwards for approximately 100 meters to a small platform (you arrived at the "ledge close to the source". If you need water, you may traverse the ledge a few meters left around a corner, where usually water drops out of a hole). From the platform again follow the chimneys to the gorge below the summit (to help with orientation look for the 9 climbers on this foto). Climb through the gorge upwards, one overhang has to be climbed via a fine crack (UIAA -V). Through further chimneys and short walls, now easier, head towards the exit (the original route leaves the gorge 30m below the west ridge on a broad ledge to the right. Where the ledge narrows after a corner, climb straight upwards to the summit). Most climbers follow the gorge to the west ridge (from here in a few minutes to the summit, much easier and shorter than the original route).
Here is a foto from the upper quarter of the southface, to get an idea where Steiner route, Munich chimneys (which are often combined with direct Kutroff/Haentschel exit) and Schloemmer/Perner Direttissima leave the wall to the ridge.
Essential Gear5 to 10 quickdraws, depending on your liking. Five small to midsize nuts (I prefer hexentrics here). Sometimes belays can be built through holes in the rock, but there are also enough pegs and bolts in the route. A helmet is an absolute must. Wear the right shoes for a descent over a steep glacier (you'll have no fun with slicks). For people not used to traverse hard steep snowfields, crampons will possibly be lifesavers, though normally it's enough to hit steps into the snow with a hammer or a small ice axe.
DescentOne of the normal routes, click here to see. Most climbers use the northeast route.
Miscellaneous InfoThis is a three picture series about a helicopter rescue out of the southface. The mountain rescue team is very well organized. Southface rescues are often done from the ridges with long steelcables, which are mounted on cable rolls. In some cases helicopters can help directly: >>>start here
Heli rescue 1
Heli rescue 2
Heli rescue 3