Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Head It Up, Hans

Hans was the most bad ass Austrian we had ever met.  When I first saw him --- an older, weathered, hard-core looking mountaineer --- I said to Lisa, "That guy is seriously hardcore.  Maybe he is our guide?!?"  Sure enough, a few minutes later he walks up to our table, extends his hand, and introduces himself in accented English:  "Halo, my name is Hans.  I'm your guide."  

For our fare thee well tour of Austria we hired a guide to lead us to the summit of the Grossglockner --- the highest peak in Austria --- and, as luck would have it, we were paired with the quintessential Austrian mountaineer:  highly experienced, somewhat surly, and a bit arrogant.  After he sized us up ("You have climbed before, yes?"  "How heavy is your backpack?"  "Your hiking boots --- they are too soft --- but they will do.") we met up with the third member of our guided group, a German from Trier, then set off.  
At the trail head.  Destination straight ahead.
Straight across the glacier then veer right  
"My first ascent of Grossglockner was 37 years ago.  In sandals.  And wearing lederhosen."
Some klettersteig en route to the hut we'll spend the night in
Brilliant sunny day on the Grossglockner
All of us roped together.  Pretty confident Hans can hold all three of us up with one arm.
I hope your neighbor doesn't smell because you'll be sleeping right next to him!
Sunrise before we set off for the summit
Crampons?  Check.  Stick?  Check.  Helmet?  Check.
As good a time as any to learn how to walk with crampons
Lisa, Clint, and Cornel the German
Cornel = unfazed.  Clint = Not taking any chances.  Lisa = cautious.   
Up, Up, Up!
Short descent before the final climb
Almost there!
Grossglockner Summit:  12,461'.  The highest peak in Austria.
"Congratulations.  You summit once.  I summit 150th time."   
After Grossglockner, we headed to Gerlos --- a small ski village in the Zillertal --- for a few days of leisurely hiking, slow meals, and lazing around in the Austrian mountains.  
The cows wandering through town as if they own the place.
Zillertal ski resort in summer
Even the cows have a high quality of life (well, as high as it can be for a cow)
Krimml Waterfalls:  the highest waterfall in Austria

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