Should I Climb It?
My wife and I spent virtually all of June, all of July and the first week of August in Europe this summer. We flew into and out of Zagreb and spent the first month and a half of our trip touring the Balkans, but made it to the Alps for a week and half or so before we went back. I had been wanting to climb Grossglockner at some point on the trip since I had never summitted any major peak in Alps before (being from Texas). We spent the earlier part of the summer hitting various mountains in the Balkans (Bobotov Kuk, Maja Jezerce, Olympus, Musala, and a few others) and the were in the Dolomites just before heading towards Heilgenblut. While in the Dolomites i saw a few days in the weather forecast with perfect weather (over 80 F (~30 C) in Heilgenblut with zero rain chance) so i had to try to fit in a summit attempt. I tried to find a guide since there was glacier traveled involved and i would otherwise be climbing by myself (My wife doesn't like things she thinks are too scary). However, due to said perfect weather and the late notice, there were none to be found. But I wasn't going to let this ruin my trip. I read on summitpost that there's no glacier travel (and therefore no need to rope up) coming from Heilgenblut, so I decided to start my trip there instead of kals. Then I called the erzherzog johann Hut to try to get a bed, but no luck. As a result, I decided I'd just day hike from Glocknerhaus (by Heilgenblut). My wife, of course, did not want me go because she thought it was too scary and I shouldn't be going without a guide, so I politely listened and went anyway. I lined up some rental gear in Heilgenblut, booked a hotel, and we were on our way.
I took a xanax to help me sleep and went to bed about 7:30 pm and got up the next morning around 3:30 am. I drank some coffee and made it to the trailhead around 5:00 am. I've typically worn crampons before just with my running shoes but I decided since this seemed like a more serious climb, I'd rent some better boots so I did. I still wanted to wear my running shoes for most of the hike, so I put the boots in my bag. Those made my backpack pretty heavy for a day hike. I hiked to Salmhutte and got there around 8:30 or 9:00 am or so I think, ate some Kassespaetzle and continued on my way. Also, just a bit before making it to salmhutte, I decided my pack was too heavy so I took my boots out of my bag and hid them behind a rock. I figured I be fine in just my running shoes. I made it to the little Via Ferrata used to access the ridge, but didn't use a via ferrata kit. It was very easy climbing and I never felt as if I was in any danger of falling. Once you get to the top of that you do traverse the very top of a glacier for just a bit. I didn't see any Crevasses wider than my finger, but further down the glacier there are some major crevasses. Make sure you can self Arrest if you fall! At that point you continue along the ridge. There's one spot with some exposure that has fixed poles, but I didn't use them. I didn't think they were necessary. From there, I just kept on up the ridge and made it to the Erzherzog Johann hut around 12:30. I used the restroom and kept chugging along. From there, you go up a snowfield for a bit, up a snow-filled coulior, and then you're on the rocky ridge, which you climb the rest of the way to the summit. (of course earlier in the season it's a snow-covered ridge). I took off my crampons here and started scrambling up the ridge. The guided groups go super slow up the coulier and on the ridge. There are fixed poles all along the ridge, but I didn't think they were really necessary, at least when the snow is melted. I didn't use them at all. The guided groups, however, tie off on every one and go SUPER slow. I started freezing my ass off at several spots waiting on guided groups in traffic jams because I was just wearing shorts and a T shirt (which would've been find if I hadn't spent so much time waiting around!). Eventually I made it to the top and it was pretty awesome. I headed back down, stopped at the erzherzog johann Hut to warm up and eat some goulash, and made it back to my car around 21:00. Overall, not too difficult of climb. Mostly just a long hike with a little snow/ice and some fun scrambling on great quality rock at the top. I would say its definitely doable as a day hike. I didn't rush and it only took me ~16 hours. Granted, the weather was perfect.
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