Days 38 & 39 – Tales from the Taschachhaus

Tuesday 21st & Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Much of Tuesday morning was spent running around trying to buy a 22cm ice screw. Apparently, according to the World Wide Web (and Andy Kirkpatrick). Abalakov anchors are safest with 22cm and I only have 16cm. It would appear that size does matter after all!

Now, for those of you who have not yet read days 36 & 37 and are thinking; “Abalakov what!?” I would just like to say: KEEP UP!!

Having found our piece of kit and paid the €64 (!!) we packed our bags, drove up to the head of the Pitztal (again!?), found a nice place for Gandalf to chill out for a few days and headed off up to the Taschachhaus.

Few things of note apart from; I would really like to know how heavy my rucksack actually is. Then I could refuse to carry it on health and safety grounds (my guess is 20kg and it has zero padding) and the beautiful walk up to the hut

Why does Mrs P’s bag look so much smaller than mine?

…and the now all too familiar signs of glacial retreat.

All culminating in a sight to gladden Mrs P’s day…

Mrs P’s idea of a Christmas hamper

We chatted with one of the staff at the hut about potential routes and were somewhat disappointed to discover that most of the big glacier routes are considered very dangerous at the moment. It is end of season here and the snow bridges are very unstable. Our original plan had the added risk of rockfall from multiple different angles so, discretion being the better part of valour, we opted for plan A, find an easy(ish) route into a glacial area with steep enough ice to practice not falling off.

Mrs P debates how ‘easy‘ the route up to the glacier is. Fortunately she is out of earshot

On the glacier we found a likely bit of steep ice. Only 45 – 50 degrees but steep enough for our purposes (and much easier to not accidentally fall off).

We built things…

Very neat ice belay. 2 ice screws to which I am attached. (The axes are not part of the belay they are just keeping out of the way)
The one you have all been waiting for. The Abalakov thread

As seen above, the Abalakov thread is, basically, two holes in the ice with a bit of string looped through. You then the pass the rope through the bit of string, attach yourself and jump off the mountain. Trusting your weight to the 2 holes and the bit of string. I think we’ll send Mrs P off first. Just to see if it’s safe…

The smile on Mrs P’s face is because her abseil is backed up by an ice screw. I do look after her
If you are able to zoom in you can see a group of climbers below and to the left of Mrs P

…and now, without the benefit of ice screw back up it is Mr P’s turn

As you leave the anchor point you can’t help thinking , “Just a few inches of ice and a bit of string between me and a very long slide.” Shortly followed by, “Phew! It works!” And then, “Well, so far.”

Looking back up at a few inches of ice and 2 bits of string.

All in all a good days practice. 9.5 hours in total from leaving the hut at 05.00 and our return. That is until a certain member of team P suggested that, since our options for other routes were limited, we should walk all the way out rather than spending an additional night and extra money in the hut. So, you can take that 9.5 hours and raise it by 2. (Sheesh! And she says she’s not getting fitter!).

Ice Screw Aside: (why does that sound wrong? Anyway…) Ice screws are used in myriad ways for protecting climbing on, you guessed it, ice. They can be used as protection during a climb; for making belays and for making the legendary Abalakov thread.

4 thoughts on “Days 38 & 39 – Tales from the Taschachhaus

  1. Well, now. Sublime/ridiculous/some contrast thereof: we spent this morning clocking up 10k around Sirmione and the “Grotte de Catullo”, which specifically owns the ” because it is neither a grotto, nor was owned by Catullus…if we had read the leaflet in advance we would have known it is, in fact, the largest Roman household ruin in northern Italy. And there would have been far less oohing and aahing as we turned every corner! Anyway, it was a stifling 33 degrees (“feels like 34” – is there a more annoying meteorological turn of phrase? Let’s just call it flipping 34, if it ***in’ well feels like it!) requiring suitable lakeside refreshments for the remainder of the afternoon. However, I did see at least three public sets of weighing scales in the (tiny) old town, no idea why, so if you make it this far you can weigh your rucksack accurately. 🙂

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    1. Well, the “not a Grotte” sounds fun if sticky. A bit jealous of the heat. We have been used to mostly warm mornings but it is only about 12 degrees here and, unusually, raining. What to do? Maybe we will go around the local village demanding to see there public scales. Enjoy the rest of your break and thanks for persevering with my blog.

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