Hans von Haidsteig route is one of the famous via ferratas on Rax massif, and it is one of the hardest as well.
Goes on the south face of Preinerwand, a peak of Rax plateau.
Offers a considerably long climb, with various difficulties, the route is generally quite exposed, however it has a few easier sections.
During the whole climb, spectacular views meet one's eyes, as getting higher, the scenery is more and more magnificent.
A must have for every via ferrata climber, as it is said to be one of the best in Austria.
Cars can be parked at Griesleitenhof (some forestry houses next to the stream). After some walking on a quite steep forest terrain (good for warming up), a crossing is reached, here take the right. However, all over this area, the paths are quite well marked. This way leads to a smaller ridge, on which turn left, and soon you reach another crossing, here turn left. Now the bigger trees are left behind, and the way leads on scree. After a short while, you reach the wall of Preinerwand, and the sign shows the way up.
There are two variants of the route at the first third, the Old and the New Haidsteig.
The first part of the route begins with a short cable, then it ends, leaving the route uninsured, but it is easy and yet not so high and exposed. Then it follows on a larger ledge, continuing slightly upwards until reaching an approx. 8 m high ladder. (Difficulty: B/C). Then comes a traverse to the left, on an almost perpendicular wall. Good steps and holds, and additional steel bolts help climbing here. Then straight up on an even steeper wall. (Difficulty: C/D). Then a plateau is reached, where cable is built only on steeper parts. (Difficulty: A). As you reach a small ridge leading to the next wall, you can see a sign on a rock. Here the Old Haidsteig joins.
The second part is the quintessence of this route. After reaching the wall through the ridge, cables appear again. Tie up. A traverse under the massive wall, you reach the second ladder, which is NOT insured. For those who may be afraid, carabiners can be put on easily on ladder steps. About 10 m high. Then long steep climbs with C difficulty, quite well aided and insured. The key place should be the next section, a chimney, long, even UIAA III (D ferrata) difficulty.
Very enjoyable. At the end there is a small place where the Black Madonna stateau and the climbers log lie. A good place for a rest, with spectacular views. Even if the weather is cloudy.
The third part is an easier climb, heading diagonally left below the ridge. Well insured, good holds and steps, but the rock is fragmented on some parts, and the path is quite exposed. (Difficulty: A/B). Finally leads to the edge, the end of the route.
From here Preinerwand (1783 m), and Neue Seehütte (1643 m) can be quickly reached.
Complete via ferrata equipment, good shoes (stiff soles useful) required.
Can be very slippery in wet conditions. Keep in mind the artifical insurance is not continuous, but where it is missing, the terrain is not difficult.
When to climb
Main climbing season is from May to October, but depending on conditions, can be climbed during the whole year. Of course it is more difficult in winter, when cables are under snow, and there are parts with potential avalanche danger. Full winter equipment required.
Very crowded in summer, or when the weather is nice, the normal ascent time of 1-1,5 hours can be easily doubled or even more, and people can cause rockfalls from above.