Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Zillertal Beta.

Another slightly off-piste destination - in summer at least, in winter I'm sure it's well pisted. Is it worth it?? If you really want to climb amongst endless Alpine scenery of mountains, forests, and hillside cabins, with convenient logistics from the Mayrhofen resort including a hearty diet of - yup again - schnitzel und weissbier, all with the irresistable soundtrack of cowbells, it could be for you.

The climbing:
Is essentially a blend of sport climbing that is essentially "the best of Scottish sport-climbing" i.e. good but sub-world-class climbs on decent inland schistose / granitic gneiss, with more aesthetic and striking bouldering circuits in delightful locations.

Route-wise it wasn't as special in the F6s as Pfalz / Bohuslan / Pedriza, but it was good and varied and would be a novelty for sassenachs who have never visited Creag Nan Luch / Cadhag / Goat Crag etc. The harder grade routes do look more spectacular but given everything is undergraded anyway, expect a tough time.

Boulder-wise the plethora of tumbled blocs (including some very recently tumbled ones at Sundergrund providing some cool new lines) provide more distinct lines in a wild variety of situations from along river beds (and actually in the rivers) to forested hillsides, to charming Alpine meadows. I would suggest the bouldering is slightly more inspiring, combining both is definitely recommended.

The guidebook.
Is fairly hopeless in many ways including having small scale maps that are inconsistent with large scale maps, estimating walk-in times by rolling a random selection of dice, describing approaches as following "the path" but not telling you which one of the 25 available, describing bad parking options, not mentioning road tolls or cable car fees, neglecting information like sun/shade orientation and likely rain-shelter, making up grades with numbers left over from the approach time debacle, and drawing topo lines where the author thinks routes might go if viewed from a distance whilst drunk, rather than actually following the distinct bolt lines. But it has a plentiful selection of crags and boulders.

Alpine summer. It can be hot or rainy but rarely both at once and the latter seems to rarely last long despite summer months being the slightly wetter ones. The classic European tactic of getting hotter and hotter until a couple of days of clearing storms seems a feasible one. The crags are fairly high up and cover a variety of situations including shade, shelter, exposure etc so even though the weather is not guaranteed dry, it should be manageable.

Flight to wherever. We went to Munich which is about 2 hours away or 3 hours if you're cutting it fine for the flight and don't want a fuckload of delays and roadworks and get them anyway. Mayrhofen is about an hour from Innsbruck and about 30 mins South of the main A12 autobahn. Some car hire companies charge cross border fees and you need a special 8 Euro access sticker to get from .de to .at.

Accommodation etc:
Mayrhofen is the hub of the area and has everything you need. Good price off-season apartments / hostels / hotels etc in or around it, rough river-side camping further up past Ginzling. There may be other campsites.

Other activities:
In winter it's a well-established resort. In summer it's a seemingly equally established hub of fair weather activities, including vast quantities of walking, cycling, downhill scootering, paragliding, cable car touring, spas, summer bobsleighs etc etc. You might even have time to climb too...

The photos:
 View by day.

 View at most times.

 View by night.

 A minor problem amongst major ones, but what a setting!

 Pulling on a pancake. There are some harder mega-lines around Sundergrund.

 Ewige Jagdgr├╝nde is probably the coolest crag in the area for all sorts of reasons...

 ....access, setting, scenery, climbing, etc etc.

 £15 cable car round trip to climb up at Knorren. Well worth it.

 I'd happily get cable cars to climb all the time. Cool fresh air at 2100m too.

 Can't see the forest for the trees? Luckily the crags usually stand fairly clear.

 More Ewige Jagdgr├╝nde. Very fun juggy warm-up.

 And more! Terrible image quality  as it was actually pitch dark, but this route was the highlight of the trip. There may have even been a couple of power belches.

 Typical evening view after bouldering.

Typical evening view after sport climbing.

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