This moderate yet magnificently scenic climb was my introduction to the Wilder Kaiser, and remains a favorite "lifetime" climb. Views out to green lowlands and into the heart of the Steinere Rinne and opposing walls of the Fleischbank are unsurpassed. The climbing itself is wonderful, if a bit scrappy in the lower half. Opportunities for continuing on a ridge traverse are available as well.
("North Edge" in English) was climbed in two parts, by two solo climbers! The lower half by Matejak in 1908. The upper
part by J. Ostler four years earlier. Finally, the scary pitch of the route, the "Oppelband," was climbed by Oppel and Gürtler in 1906. Somehow these have been pieced together into a route that flows. You get the sense that this place was crawling with climbers in the early part of the 20th century.
Park at the end of the toll road at the Griesner Alm, and hike up into the Steinere Rinne on a good trail called the Eggersteig
(with via ferrata). This takes a bit more than an hour.
The Matajek Traverse (the IV+ crux)
There are two ways to start the climb. I have done both and have a recommendation.
: From a hiking section on the Eggersteig, the trail continues up and right with iron assists across a large rock slab. At the base of this rock look left to see a great scrambling gully going up and left for about 200 meters to a ridge crest. This is the original route, with climbing of UIAA II and III for 6 pitches.
WARNING: the climbing in here is loose, and if there is a party above, you are advised not to enter. There certainly will be some rockfall, and it'll be dangerous. Guidebooks warn of this, and a friend of mine had personal experience with it, turning around along the way. Having done this approach, I don't recommend it.
: For this much safer start, climb the via ferrata on the rocky slab, then continue up steep trail in scree until a likely place to gain the slabs again via climbing of grade III is encountered (somewhat vauge). This variation features bolted belay stances, but no intermediate protection. The climbing is easy and much, much cleaner. In 4 long pitches of II and III the two routes meet up.
This start is much better.
From where the two starts join, follow a ridge up for 30 meters of grade II to reach a belay at a vertical wall. Here is the "Matajek Traverse,"
where you venture out left on small holds to then climb back up above the belay on a solid grade IV+ crack. This 40 meter pitch is the best of the route. Another 40 meters of grade IV leading up and slightly right for 30 meters brings you to a stance (belay bolt here, as at the previous two belays).
From here, traverse right on grade III terrain for 35 meters to another belay. The Panico guidebook shows a fixed belay anchor at the end of this pitch but we didn't find one. Now transition (somewhat loose, sketchy) to a loose trail, walked for 80 meters or so to the base of a broad gully that is followed up for 150 meters of grade II and III climbing. The gully is fairly clean, and could be scrambled uproped, at least for the first half.
At the top of this gully, continue for 2-3 ropelengths of grade II and II climbing on the left side of the ridge now, with scenic views to the east. Make for a notch in the ridge, and scramble through to the west side (grade III).
Easy and scenic terrain just before the notch to cross back to the west side of the Kante.
The traversing pitch over to the start of the "Oppelband."
Traverse across the broad buttress in front of you to a belay point with a bolt (35 meters, II). Here begins an exciting, even stressful pitch called the "Oppelband."
Just around the corner and out of sight from your belayer, you'll need to crawl half in and half out of a crawlspace for about 10 difficult meters (uncertain protection at the crux, in my case a cam fumbled in between possibly loose rocks that I couldn't see!). Reach a comfortable belay stance with bolt.
A final long pitch straight up on clean rock leads to the summit in 55 meters (IV).
The final pitch, a very nice one.
Finally, you can avoid the Oppelband by heading up and left from the belay point with the bolt before the Oppelband. I'm not sure of the name of the route, but it goes in two short pitches directly to the summit of IV. Traverse left to a piton at the base of a crack, then climb the crack up and left to a bolted stance atop a buttress. Then continue left and up to the summit on an easier pitch. When we did this variation (2014), we continued straight up above the bolted stance on somewhat licheny steep rock at a harder grade, maybe V-. We did this as one 55 meter pitch from the belay before the Oppelband.
The topo below is linked from Markus Staedler's web site. As a guidebook author and expert on the area, he has generously made some of his topos available on the web, along with extra information. For example the much safer entry-variant above is described by him.
From the North summit, scramble down into the notch betweeen the Middle and Main summits (easily traverse the Middle Summit). Downclimb a short 5 meter step to find a bolted abseil station. You can make 3 double rope rappels or 6 20 meter rappels here, descending the sometimes-vertical Botzong Chimney
). One more short rappel will get you to a shallow basin, still a ways above the valley floor. Traverse the basin on the left, and follow a climbers path up and left through a notch. From here, trail leads more gently into the Steinerne Rinne.
This image (marked up from an original image by Luidger) shows the three summits and the descent via the Botzong Kamin in green.
Another view of the Botzong Kamin.
Solid grade IV climbing above the Matajek Traverse. The Griesener Alm with parking lot is below.
A moderate sized trad rack of cams to #3, a dozen nuts, 6 slings, a few long slings and quickdraws.
It's best to bring double ropes in case of retreat and to make the rappels easier.