I think I don't have to introduce this mountain to anybody who a little bit interested in Alps. This is the highest mountain in Austria with its 3798m. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the European mountain-world. Unfortunatelly it is known by a lot of people so this mountain is very-very popular.
You can find many refuges all around the region and you can find some routes to the summit of Grossglockner. The easiest normal route is harder than common normal routes. Okay it's not a mission impossible but not an easy one.
This challenge calls a lot of mountaineers mostly in the summer and early autumn season.
This mountain is more overcrowded than Mont Blanc's Gôuter route in season. That's why I chose another time to climb this mountain. As the title said Glockner leads the match with two goals. Let me tell you my story of my failures. :-)
In 2005 november we decided with one of my friends to climb Grossglockner via the southern normal route, sleeping in the Stüdlhütte.
We started from Budapest (Hungary) in a friday afternoon and arrived around midnight to the parking place of Lucknerhaus (~1900m). We just built our tent and started to sleep. There was a little bit cold around -15°C.
My partner didn't have suitable sleeping bag so he didn't sleep so good.
Next morning we prepared ourselves and started around 8 o'clock to the Stüdlhütte. It was deep snow on the path and the weather was very foggy. We didn't see anything.
At Lucknerhütte (~2250m) we stopped for a while to eat some chocolate and drink. My partner complained that he felt himself bad. He had stomachache and he felt himself weak. I didn't know what the problem was. First I thought about altitude illness but we were too low. So I had no idea.
We decided we went away and let's see. Around 2700m my partner looked like very ill. He had no power and he had an interesting white area on his red head. Uh... it's not a joke, let's turn back.
And we went down to the car and that was the end of our first Grossglockner trip. :-)
What was the problem ?
If I think well the problem was the night cold: My friend had a cold sleeping bag and during the night he burned all his carbohydrate from his body to heat himself.
It needs at least 1-2 days to fill up himself. So altough he ate in the next morning he couldn't set the proper carbohydrate level in his blood. It was too late.
In February of 2007 we decided with my girlfriend and with two of our friends that we tried to climb Grossglockner. We had some high-mountain experiences in our back, we just passed a winter mountaineering course so we felt ourself to ready for the challenge. :-)
In a Saturday dawn we started from Budapest again and around 10 o'clock we arrived to the sunny parking place of Lucknerhaus. We prepared ourselves very quickly and started to go up to the Stüdlhütte (2802m).
It was very warm I wore only a T-shirt (and of course pants and boots, gaiters :-))) ) when we went up. I love this kind of weather. There was very little snow. We met more dosen of skiers. In 4 hours we reached the Stüdlhütte. It was good timing because the sun didn't want to go down yet so it was not too cold and we had enough time to heat the winter-room of Stüdlhütte.
Winterraum (winter-room) of Stüdlhütte
There is a small wooden cottage beside the big Stüdlhütte. It is the Winterraum. It has 27 sleeping places in the upper-room and a small kitchen in the bottom of the shelter. There is WC too. I think it could be an important information if you want to stay there. :-)
You can find wood for heating and axes to cut the wood. And there are nice plaids for sleeping as well.
OEAV (Austrian Mountaineer Association) asks for 5€ per night per person and more 10€ if you heat the room too. There is a box on the wall in the kitchen you should just put the money there.
Because there was nobody else we decided we used the kitchen to sleep because the upper room was very cold.
We spent the rest of the day with melting some snow and drinking and eating. There was already quite warm in the house.
Around 8 o'clock we got sleep.
The big day
The alarm clocks woke us up at 3:45am. Very quick breakfast, going to toilet and we did the other common things before a climbing.
Our equipment was prepared so we just got them up, outside we attached the crampons and started.
It was totally clear sky we saw a lot of stars. I saw a falling star too. I wished we had climbed Grossglockner and turned back safely. So now I think this wish thing with the falling star is just a pure superstition. :-) Doesn't work... :-)))
Because of the clear sky it was very cold. We went a little bit higher than the summer normal route. We crossed two rocky parts and under the Ködnitzkees (glacier) we traversed on a steep snow-slope. Around in an hour we reached the bottom of the Ködnitz-glacier. We got the rope, ate some chocolates, drank tea and started.
It was the time of sunrise with beautiful colors.
Snow conditions on the glacier was awful. The top of the snow was freezed but if we stepped onto this harder but very thin surface it was broken and we sinked to our knees sometimes deeper in the snow. So it made us very slow.
Anyway we slowly reached the bottom of the via ferrata to the Erzherzog-Johann hütte but we decided going on the glacier because it looked like easier. Around 8 o'clock we reached the rocky eastern ridge of Grossglockner. We detached the crampons in the very heavy wind and looked the summit where the clouds went full tear.
We thought there could be dangerously heavy wind. I knew we couldn't go up to the summit. :-(
We climbed on the rock to the next wired place but my girlfriend was very-very cold so we decided turning back immediatelly.
The other two guys wanted to go up to the Erzherzog-Johann hütte so we splitted up but we used radios to keep the contact.
The other two guys reached the Erzherzog-Johann hütte half an hour later but they saw the conditions above there so they decided turning back too.
It was very nice when we reached the glacier again. Wind was lighter here.
We found a deep but not too wide crevasse under the snow and slowly walked down to the Stüdlhütte for our left equipment.
Descending was not too exciting... but we have one interesting situation when under the Lucknerhütte my girlfriend was fallen and she slided down on the icy slope. Fortunatelly she stopped on a grassy area after 3-4m.
Around 1pm we reached our car. When we were waiting for our friends we ate a delicious lunch in Lucknerhaus.
And it is the end of the story. :-)