DAY 16 – Are you sure this is the shortest route?

Well reader. We are back. And I have some serious catching up to do as it is now, as I type, day 19. I shall catch up one day at time. Are you sitting comfortably? Shouldn’t you be working? Anyway…

  • The plan: Take the shortest route from Vent, in the Ötztal region of Austria (1,900m) to the Brandenburger Haus. The highest hut in Austria at 3,277m.
  • The theory: Reverse the route we took in 2006 when we were following Frank Smythe’s 1938 route from his book ‘Over Tyrolese Hills.’ It’s got to be the shortest right? No need to check the map is there? No need to look at the freely available info we have at our fingertips to check I am right?
  • The reality: Oops!

Monday 30th July 2018. 10.30hrs and Mrs P is being remarkably understanding.

Approximately 1 hour into our hike and having taken the sneaky chairlift from Vent up to 2,200m, the Muppet formerly known as Mr. P realises that, whilst the 2006 route served Mr Smythe’s and our purpose of climbing the Wilderspitze perfectly sensibly, it is FAR from the shortest route to the Brandenburger Haus from Vent.

It will in fact turn out to be more than 2 hours longer and involve around 500 metres of additional ascent due to the up and down nature and particularly due to one, entirely unnecessary col/pass, the 3,351m Guslarjoch. I have no idea how she managed it but Mrs P’s composure remained throughout not only the 9 hour journey but continued even when a thunderstorm struck about 1 hour before we arrived at the hut. She is a Saint and I don’t deserve her.

6 1/2 hour in we are faced with this! The 3,361m Guslarjoch (‘joch’ translates as pass or col). Our destination is 1.5 km the other side of this!  – The pass is the snow slope (slope!?) in the centre of the picture

As we crested the Guslarjoch we both hoped against hope that they had moved the hut a bit closer than it had been in 2006 but it wasn’t to be. We still had to descend from the pass and traverse 1.5 km across the glacier and scramble 90m up a ridge to the hut. In the rain. To add insult to injury; thunder, lightning and rain. Just dandy!

On the Guslarjoch moments before the storm hit. You can see the Hut on the ridge in the distance

Half way across the glacier a simultaneous flash of lightening and clap of thunder enlivened Mrs. P’s adrenal glands causing her to set off at the crampon wearing, big rucksack carrying, crevasse avoiding, roped to muppet, equivalent of a sprint. I struggled to keep up but was in no position to admonish her.

Whilst I was praying for the moment that the reality of such snowbound athleticism would kick in as her brain informed her body that a heart rate of around 6 million beats per minute is in fact unsustainable at any altitude I was also secretly admiring  her stamina and grit. Atta-Girl Mrs. P.

We staggered (histrionics) through the doors at 18.45 hours. Rather wet and about 45 minutes late for dinner. And still she didn’t shout! (she was too tired.) Fortunately the hut warden is used to idiots turning up late and they fed us 3 delicious courses packed with much needed calories which we fell asleep in.

The same pass from the other side including storm clouds and rain for atmosphere – The pass is the snow runnel that almost reaches the ridge just to the right of the snow covered mountain

And so to bed. Perchance to pass out.

I shall catch up with days 17-18 tomorrow. Promise.

2 thoughts on “DAY 16 – Are you sure this is the shortest route?

  1. What a tough day. I was wondering if I should have been worried about you. However, pleased you made it to the hut before nightfall. Mary

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