ascent and normal route down on a wonderful september day.
The guide book said that the normal route would ascend the mountain from the southwest, and the west ridge would be a bit of a scramble. As I got to the Rüsselsheimerhütte the day before, I talked to a few people and learned that the normal route was more dangerous.
I ended up joining four Austrians on the west ridge, then we descended the normal route, and that was a tricky business indeed! There were two steep couloirs to cross that were still filled with snow from spring time. We were very, very careful. Apart from that, the route wasn't too pleasant either. Lots of loose stuff. So, even without snow, the west ridge is a better choice, even if it involves a bit more scrambling.
The same day, a group of Germans on an introductory course climbed the west ridge and descended the normal route too. The instructor of the group quite rightly decided to belay the climbers across the snow fields in the couloir. We didn't have that option, since we didn't carry a rope. To mitigate the risk of a fall, on the steepest snow field, instead of crossing right where the trail had lead us, we first descended to where the couloir was only a few steps wide, so we would be able to cross quickly - then scrambled back up on the rocks to the trail.
All in all, it was an enjoyable and intersting day, and I made a few friends along the way, but in hindsight, it would have been safer to descend along the west ridge again.
Martin, Jürgen and I hiked to Chemnitzer hut Friday afternoon. It was overcrowded and we had to sleep hard on the dining room floor. When the first climbers for Mainzer Hoehenweg ridge stood up at 5 a.m. we used their beds for some additional sleep! This day we did only a daytrip to Hohe Geige - ascent on the west ridge and descent on the normal route. After another - better - night on the hut we did Mainzer Hoehenweg to Braunschweiger hut.
"Ich erlebte nicht nur einen Berg, ich erlebte den Planeten Erde." (I did not only experience a mountain, I experienced the planet Earth.) -a sentence out of Herbert Maeder's book "Gipfel und Grate"
This hike is one I'll never forget! I left the Chemnitzer Hütte (back then it still belonged to DAV Chemnitz, meanwhile it has swapped owners and is named after the German city of Rüsselsheim) at 5:00 a.m. and went up the normal route. For about 900 metres upwards, it's almost like being in a chimney, as there's the high wall just vis-à-vis. Then, arriving on the plateau with the little glacier and glacial lake, I had from one second to the next the most awestriking view over the whole of west Austria and all the way to the Tödi in Switzerland in the early morning light, all the valleys still being in the morning fog! An unbelievable and so sudden moment! Then the last bit up to the summit, from which I was able to enjoy the magnificent all-round view in absolutely perfect weather. I went back down the same way. The route is taxing, but altogether well-marked and technically easily feasible for a good mountain hiker. I can't remember there being any "key passages".
We drove from Augsburg, Germany on Saturday in the afternoon. We got to the trailhead and started climbing to the hut at about 7 pm. Around 8:30 we arrived at the hut and found out that there were no spots left in the hut OR in the "Notlager" either. We ate fried eggs and drank Apfelsaftschöler before everyone went to bed. We slept on the wooden floor of the hut's dinning room. It was actually nice and quiet compared with the bunk room everyone else was in. Sunday morning we woke up at about 5 am, ate a nice breakfast of Müsli and tea and left the hut at 6:20 am in no rush. Less than an hour later we were at the Gawinten lookout. Soon we were occupied with climbing the West Ridge. After 3:45 minutes of beautiful rock and sky, we were on the summit of the Hohe Geige. There was a nice group of Austrians on the summit with us and we all signed the summit register. We took the Normal Route back down to the hut and both felt that the West-Ridge was the more logical, cleaner route. It is a bit more exposed but at least the rock is better. After a couple of hours we were back at the hut where we had lunch (the Minestrone was good). We hiked slowly back down to the valley in 1:20 and drove to Augsburg in just over three hours.
Warm day, nice climb, rewarding summit, 4 hours 50 minutes (from car park)