First time in the Alps - without summit but with great Dachstein experience

First time in the Alps - without summit but with great Dachstein experience

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 20, 2006
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Winter

Planning and the first day

steep slopes of Dachsteinplateau from ObertraunSteep slopes of Dachsteinplateau from Obertraun
Long before my first real trip to the Alps I started my planning of the trip. I bought a map in scale 1:50 000 of Dachstein. Summitpost page also helped me a lot. I´m still only a hiker who absolved some trips with crampons (Tatras) and with skialps in Krkonose mountains and enjoyed some I grade ridges in the Tatras. The reason is that I am still financially dependent on my parents and they are against my climbing career. So my first trip to the Alps must have been planned within borders of my abilities and possibilities.
Day one: The beginningThe start

As I was invited to Vienna for a conference about F. A. Hayek, I decided to spend more time in Austria and have a trip in Dachsteingruppe. After the conference I met my brother in Vienna (on sunday 19th november) and then we got the heading Obertraun. We came there at about 10 p.m.
Day 1: Peter above Hallstatter SeeAbove Hallstattersee

We slept in one shed of the house at the edge of the village. We didn´t have a tent, so it was a good choice because after midnight it started to rain. It rained until 10 a. m. so we were thinking of having small trip in the near and decide whether to quit the action. Anyway, the breathed air was brilliant and I felt to be more healthy than before. I thought Peter wouldn´t go up in these weather conditions, but he surprisingly forced me to leave my sleeper and go to the Alps, because we were there for that cause! So we bought some bread, asked for the way and went for the hike to the Schichlerhaushuette. I must that we started quite late, at about 12:30. We knew it got dark sometime at 16:30 and that the hike longs 4 or 5 hours. What is more, I had a rucksack of about 25 - 30 kilograms (I had there the books from the viennese conference) and Peter of about 20 kilograms. Starting the hike was really steep ascend, but we knew, that that day there was 1200 meters of height difference, so we knew we must ascend. Peter wasn´t in his best form, so he needed breaks every 20 minutes. It disturbed me, but I was patient. When we found ourselves being in the mist, it was good to me, as there was no wind in the forest. I appreciate good air to breathe. Peter tried to have longer and longer passages without needing a break for breathing, eating, drinking or whatsoever. I felt the weight of my rusksack and to be honest neither I was in my best form, but until the trail met the ski slope from Krippenstein (at approx. 1150 m a.s.l.), it was brilliant as there was no snow and no wind. Wind causes me problems, because I sweat a lot. From that moment on the trail crossed many times the ski slope. At the 1200 meters there was only a little snow, but we were still in mist and the visibility was at best about 100 meters. For that reason we couldn´t see the summit of Hoher Krippenstein (2109 m) that was direct above us. The higher we were, the more snow there were. I was the first and no tracks were visible, so I had to build the tracks for Peter. The wind started to blow on the open passages. The night was coming immediately. We knew that there should be something like a hut at Krippenbrunn (1552 m) and the night was really close, so we tried to get at least there. In that parts we didn´t try to follow the route, but went up the ski slope. In that parts it was really steep. I would shake my knees if I was to downhill it on skies in winter. The situation was going desperate, but hopefully we came in some next minutes to the Krippenbrunn and asked for help men - ski-lift service.
Day one: Peter approaching Schichlerhausbetween Krippenbrunn and Schichlerhaushuette

They called the cottager of the Schichlerhaushuette and told us to follow little slope tracked by the snow machine. The cottager was told to wait for us at the crossroad of the trails at the Gjaidalm. That made us calm, from that monent on we knew that we have a safe place to sleep that night. For some moments the clouds came upper and we could see the summit of the Hoher Krippenstein.
Day one: approaching Schichlerhaushuetteme between Krippenbrunn and Schichlerhaushuette

In 50 minutes we were at the crossroad and from the distance we saw a person waiting for us. There was a cute cottagerin there and we were to be her only guests that day. So we finally came to the Schichlerhaushuette a little before the 5 p.m. We thanked for help and were satisfied, that we were at the evening where we wanted to be that time. We spoke to the cottagerin very long and about every aspect of life - it was brilliant experience. At about 11:30 we got to bed. Everybody to his own bed, of course. I went to bed with the hope that the weather will help us. One day of bad weather was enough. The cottagerin was pessimistic about the coming weather, but on the internet the weather forecast for Dachstein was that up of 2000 meters should be sunny, lesser should be clouds... Let´s see in the morning..

The hike day: 21st november 2006

mapping conditionssomewhere between knee timber under Niederer Rumpler (1979 m)

Direction Taubenkogel, Hoher Gjaidsteinmarking point towards Gjaidstein

Vorderer Gjaidstein (2414 m) and Niederer Gjaidstein (2482 m)Our goals: Vorderer Gjaidstein (2414 m) and Niederer Gjaidstein (2482 m).

Taubenkogel (2300 m)Taubenkogel(2300 m), we hoped to get there.

Hoher Ochsenkogel (2527 m)Hoher Ochsenkogel (2527 m).

East wall of Taubenkogeleast wall of Taubenkogel with roofs.

chamoix at the slopes of Niederer Gjaidsteinchamoix in the slopes of Vorderer Gjaidstein.

Peter and KrippensteinPeter and Krippenstein

at the limits of my gearMe, enjoying hard conditions.

carstland of the east DachsteinView from our final point.

Krippenstein with Totes GebirgeView of Krippenstein and Totes Gebirge.

Hoher Rumpler (2022 m) in Dachsteincarstland

Taubenkogel (2300 m)back at the plateau

Austrian army helicopter UH-1 at GjaidalmUH-1 of the austrian army at Oberfeld.

sunsetnear sunset from Krippenstein.

Gjaidstein and DachsteinDachstein near sunset.

Sunset behind the Hoher Dachstein summitSunset behind Dachstein.

back at the SchichlerhaushuetteThe last photo of a trip - Schichlerhaushuette.


We asked cottagerin to prepare breakfast at 6. When I woke I didn't felt like having slept enough, but I stared at the first light to get to know what the weather was. According to the first little light of the day it seemed to be starting beautiful day. The cottagerin woke quite later, but also Peter didn't like the idea of leaving his bed. I was optimistic about the weather and about our that day goals. The breakfast was ready at about 6:30. It was much richer than I supposed, but it also costed 7 euro per person, so we tried to eat it all not to waste such a significant (for us) amount of money. So the breakfast, once more with conversation with cottagerin, took us nearly two hours. I wasn't happy about that, because the day become to be absolutely beautiful and I wanted to try as much as possible. What is more, I believed to descend in the evening to the Obertraun and take the train to start travelling home. So we got prepared, took only the most important things, I had a small rucksack of about 5 kilograms and Peter no rusksack. What a change from the previous day! Cottagerin went with us to the crossroad at the army base (that time we didn't know it was an army base). Then became a significant obstacle. We wanted to try the route 615 via the ridge of Gjaidstein to the summit of Hoher Gjaidstein (2795 m). The cottagerin tried to discourage us from trying it. She thought it would be too dangerous. So she let us go without pointing at the marking at the junction of trails.

Hike number one

As we started, the problems started. We didn't find the marking point at the beginning of the trail so we had to go straight according to what map says and what is seen. We had to approach the east wall of Taubenkogel, that we have seen the whole time. We started to go through hilly country, slightly ascending the Niederer Rumpler (1979 m). The light was good for taking photos and the skies were clear. The temperature was slightly above zero, the snow conditions good. It was hard, but sometimes, especially when going too close to the knee timber, we fell full meter into the snow. It was quite arduous and time consuming. It didn't fit my plans. Sometimes we were doing long roundabouts due to fields of knee timber. At one moment Peter saw somebody on the steeper slope not very far from us. We approached that place and found that man’s tracks and thus the trail. The trail was still the same as the trail to the Simonyhuette. In quite 15 minutes we found ourselves to be at the junction of the trails. The tracks of the man turned towards Simony. On the trail 615 to Hoher Gjaidstein there were no tracks. I took my map, tried to follow the route due to marking was visible only seldom. In case of more snow one must rely completely on himself or the map when trying Gjaidstein. We moved past some huge carst holes. We enjoyed these passages a lot. Views were superb; ridge of Gjaidsteins and especially Taubenkogel’s east wall were getting nearer. In the east wall of Taubenkogel we saw some roofs. I’d bet climbers don’t climb it very often. But I think that is to their pity. I liked the idea of summiting such an impressive mountain. If we reached the north saddle of Taubenkogel, summiting it would be quite easy. We were to ascend that saddle. It was the easiest way to the ridge. But in getting to the saddle I saw some problems. I expected problems and from the far I saw one problematic place on the upper part of the slope from the saddle. It was quite long and steep snowfield. I thought that if we manage to go through this, we will reach the saddle and summit at least Taubenkogel. As we were nearing the slope from the saddle, Peter’s good eye noted a group of 15 chamoix in the eastern side of the Vorderer Gjaidstein (2414 m). They were aware as they saw us and after a while they run up behind one rocky rib so that we could not see them more. We entered the shadow, as the sun was already at the western part of this N-S heading ridge. Snow conditions were quite good, but from the beginning I knew we would have problems with sliding. The avalanche danger wasn’t high; according to the weather forecast there was only the first grade of the avalanche danger. Under the about 10 centimeters deep fresh snow there was hard firn snow. In general there was not much snow. At many places there were dry rocks that would help in moving further. But on some places rocks were loose and covered by thin ice. Moving was quite slow as we needed to be careful and sometimes I had to breach the crust of hard snow to make a safe step and prepare a safe step also for Peter. I enjoyed it, but I knew I was at the limits of my “gear”. I missed crampons a lot. At the key passage that I saw from the plateau I couldn’t breach the crust of the snow to make further step safe. Peter was repeating at least tenth time a request to go back. I encouraged him, but I knew I’m also getting convinced that the only conceivable idea is to go back. We were at the beginning of about 30 meters long, about 45° steep snowfield and I knew there was no way for us through it. I looked up to the left. There were rocks partly loose, partly covered by snow, partly safe, but they were also separated by steep snowfields. How much I missed crampons at that moment!
I wished very much to get to the saddle. It would open us view to the Dachstein – the first in my life. We would have seen the glacier from very near for the first time. And the ridge is quite broad and not steep (as you can see it on this photo), so ascent of at least Taubenkogel or Vorderer Gjaidstein would be safe. But my desire was even higher. I desired to summit the Hoher Gjaidstein. From photos on the internet I liked its round shape. It reminded me Slavkovsky stit in my beloved High Tatras and even more the magnificent Sveto Brdo in the Velebit range. I saw it in July this year and liked it very much. When you take into account its position and its height of 2795 meters, you must realize that views from it must be simply great. Especially the Hoher Dachstein must be great that is just in front of you if you stay atop the Hoher Gjaidstein. This photo proves that. What is more, the idea of summiting the Hoher Gjaidstein was very attractive personally for me, because you can’t get any higher in Slovakia, my homeland. Gerlachovsky stit is with its 2655 meters the highest slovak one. I was never higher. All these thoughts were mixing in me, but it was about to take an unpleasant decision. Peter was more afraid of our safety with any further step. I released all these thoughts by putting them to the shoulders of God by short but intensive prayer. I took a camera and started to take photos of views to the south, east and the north. Peter knew what it meant. We were quite high by then, at about 2200 meters. We saw many small ranges to all these sides. I recognized only the Totes Gebirge behind the Hoher Krippenstein. I liked that view – mountains wherever you look. Nevertheless the time was quite afternoon and we needed to descend that day to Obertraun to get our train home. I was glad I tried it, but it was high time of descending. Peter was quite afraid, but I helped him secure his steps and quite quickly we found ourselves back at the carst plateau. Now we followed our steps, so it was quick. We saw some ravens that had their nest in the east wall of the Taubenkogel. If only I could fly… The shadow of the ridge was quite long, the sun was quite near the horizon, but it was good for taking shots of snowy plateau surrounded by mountains. At about 15:30 we went back to the Oberfeld and saw first people from morning at the army base. Yet at the slope of the saddle we heard a terrible roar. Peter firstly thought that it might have been calcite mines, but then he offered far more probable explanation: shooting-gallery. He was quite angry back at the Oberfeld that he was right. What is more, some soldiers moved past us, holding one shot chamois. We were quite angry with the idea of the army base in the mountains. Very near is protected nature reserve Naturschutzgebiet Steirisches Dachsteinplateau. On the other hand, as everything, also the army base in mountains added something positive to us. Peter is a master in recognizing fighters and helicopters. Yet from the slope of the saddle we saw the helicopter that Peter recognized to be of a type UH-1. At Oberfeld we had a possibility to have a close-up look of it. It was quite high time to starting the descent if we wanted to be safely down still at day.
But I wasn’t satisfied. I still did neither see Gjaidstein and Dachstein nor summit any peak. Both problems could be solved easily by summiting the Hoher Krippenstein that was very close and it was only 300 meters of height difference from Oberfeld. Hoher Krippenstein is believed to be a perfect viewpoint, as you may see at this link. My decision was predictable.

Journey number two

Peter was quite exhausted, so we went down 5 minutes to the Schichlerhaushuette. I took only some water, sweets and a camera. The machine that adjusts ski slopes adjusted the trail some time before, so it was quite easy to ascend that snow. But it was quite steep. I moved past the west face of Niederer Krippenstein (2027 m). It was quite exhausting, because I really wasn’t in my best form. After one steeper part I moved and – to my surprise that at so low height – I finally saw the Hoher Dachstein and the Hoher Gjaidstein! It encouraged me, but when I got some tens of meters higher, the view was sufficient. I was under pressure of the time. You might remember we wanted to descend to Obertraun. I was just next to the saddle between Niederer Krippenstein and Hoher Krippenstein at approx. 2000 meters. At the summit the view would be disturbed by many buildings, so I decided to sacrifice summiting Krippenstein and rather take some fine photos of Gjaidstein and Dachstein near the time of sunset. It was not my camera, but a best friend of mine’s one, so I didn’t know perfectly use it. First the sun disturbed my tries to take photos there. But I realized that it is challenge, so I tried via the path of the trial and error how to take photos that would look good. I liked the atmosphere a lot. I fell in love with these summits (Gjaidstein & Dachstein) even more thanks to that atmosphere. I spent some time praying for those my friends that would love to be there with me, but couldn’t go. I thanked for what I have seen and experienced. But I promised myself that another time I come here, I would come with much more audacious plans. I was getting colder, so as soon as there was after sunset I decided to go back to Schichlerhaus. I fully enjoyed every look, and even the last one, to the Gjaidstein and Dachstein. I descended to the Schichlerhaushuette in some 10 minutes. Peter waited for me, but didn’t seem to be ready to go down immediately. We spent some time speaking with the cottagerin, thanked her for everything, paid for the provided service, took last common photos and quickly prepared to descend. The cottagerin asked if we have any lamp to see when it gets dark. We didn’t have any (never more to mountains without a head or hand lamp!), so she lended us her older one. We left the huette at about 16:30. We weren’t calm, because we didn’t know what would await us during descend. Until the Krippenbrunn the snow was adjusted and the slope was mild, so we partly run there. We were there in about 10 – 15 minutes. Then the snow wasn’t adjusted and the slope got steeper, so we were descending more slowly, but there was still enough light in the night on the ski slope to safely descend to the Obertraun by 18:45. We didn’t use the borrowed hand lamp. On the way we saw many times the summit of Hoher Krippenstein towering above us. The previous day we could neither imagine the landscape due to the mist. I enjoyed every breathe still in mountains. Then followed only the train station, travel to Attnang-Puchheim and Linz, where I left Peter’s train. He traveled to Vienna and further to Slovakia. I had to wait 8 hour in warm station at Linz for my train to Prague.

To speak generally, the first trip in the Alps met the expectations. We enjoyed some hikes and spent a lot of time together. I’m satisfied despite the highpoint of only 2200 meters and no summits, but only for this time. Next time, I’ll have higher ambitions…


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