Rock climbing at the Hochschwab
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Please be aware that this is a description of the route as we experienced it, not to be taken as is. Conditions might change, bolts might be removed. We assume no liability of the accuracy, quality or completeness of information we publish. Climbing is a dangerous sport. Before you read on, read our disclaimer.
The Himmelsleiter is one of the most popular routes on Hochschwab, offers some variety in the climbing and is one of the longest ones at 300m of vertical. Be aware that right next to it, recently added, lies a brand new very bolted route called the Lufthammer which is harder than the Himmelsleiter and can be misleading. In our case, we did the first to pitches of the Lufthammer and only wound up on the Himmelsleiter afterwards, but vowed to come back and do the Lufthammer as it is very nice, and even though harder than the Himmesleiter (6-), still within our possibilities.
The walk from the Voistaler Hütte takes about one hour and once done with the steepest part of the hiking, getting to a sort of pass between the 2 valleys, you find yourself facing the Südwand of the Hochschwab, it is very impressive and exciting to look at, especially all the lines formed by the waterrills, the possibilities look endless....From the pseudo pass, head off from the path directly towards the wall, across the leftover snow patches.
To find the start of the route follow upwards, with your eyes, the main crack in the face (it is the Domeniggweg, 3-) and when about halfway up bring your eyes straight down and you should find the start of another left running but smaller crack. there lies the beginning of the Himmelsleiter (and the Lufthammer which follows the bolts).
As we did not climb the first 2 pitches of the Himmelsleiter, we will describe the first 2 of the Lufthammer.
The first 15 meters of the route are more like scrambling from the base to get to the cliffs, more or less a 1-2 until you reach the vertical part. This first section is not bolted, but as soon as the vertical is reached, the bolts are present at the crucial moments. Follow the bolts up a straight face to a small right climbing crack, the crack continues, but you will see a bolt protecting and overhang after a few meters, climb the overhang and then straight up to a niche in the face where there is one bolt for a relay (and good placement possibilities). The pitch is about 40-50m long, depending on where you start from and graded an easy 5+.
2nd pitch, climb straight out of the niche then follow the bolts that zig-zag, slightly right and then comes a slight left traverse of a few meters to a hard spot, then straight up for a nice 10-15m crux and then a few meters to the relay. (40m ,6-)
3rd pitch we believe we were back on the Himmelsleiter, but not so sure, not so protected (a few pitons) but easy small overhang to start off and then a corner up for about 15 -20 meters, then another easy scamble to the major crack in the face, the Domeniggweg. Relay in the Domeniggweg, 2 pitons. (40m, 4)
4th pitch takes you straight out of the crack for about 7-10m then you should go slightly right to a corner, straight up and then a bit more scrambling to the relay (35m, 5-). Be careful, this pitch has many loose rocks and boulders.
5th pitch continues straight up for 30m on a plate with some nice holes (30m, 4-).
6th pitch is a bit of scrambling, first straight, then angling towards the left once you reach a slab. There is a major niche in the slab where it is possible to relay from ( a pink rope sling is tied around a hole, but , if your rope is less than 60m, I would suggest to continue straight up to the next niche (10m) and then traverse left (3m) to another possible relay, this makes the next coming pitch correct for a 50m rope, otherwisde it might get tight. (25-35m, 2-3)
Pitch 7 is a nice one, going up a slab first for 7-10m and the a crack along a promontary, to relay on top of the promountary. Very nice 40m, 4+. from this climb, to the left you will notice a nicely bolted route going up the waterrills, I believe this is the Lufthammer route, very nice looking....
8th pitch Straight up the waterrills from the promountary, there is a bolt or 2 for this 10-15m part, when reaching a grassy crack going left, follow it for another 10 m to the realy (25m, 5-).
9th and final pitch, on this one you can choose whter to go harder or easier. The harder version goes straight up the waterrills from the relay, with 3 bolts in the first 10m it is well protected, then head left onto a slab and more or less straight up the bolts to the relay. (35m ,5). the easier way we didn't climb but follows for a while the grassy crack and then heads up some water rills, we have heard that it is almost as hard as the other version even though it is rated lesser. (35m, 4)
A final scamble will get you off the face and looking up at the summit of the Hochschwab (iron cross), you can either go there and enjoy the view, or head down straight to the Schiestlhaus for a well deserved beer (and rest if you are sleeping there). For those staying at he Voistaler Hütte, don't drink to many beers as there is still a 1 1/2 hour walk back to the hut, just follow the signs.