Alps in 1967

Click on images to see a magnified version in a new window.

View Photo Set 1/3 | Set 2/3 | Diary

Previous page

Had arrived in Innsbruck and stayed overnight near the station.

Mon 31 Jul

[Lizumer Hütte 32T 700128 5227061 2019m]

Up at 6:30 for a breakfast of bread and jam - the first of many. Away before 8. Walked for miles and got no lifts until an aged and bushy-bearded man in full Tyrolean dress gave me a lift on his moped. Then a lift to Wattens. Had a half litre of apfelsaft and then began the walk up to the hut. It was hard work and the pack felt sore. However I was picked up by a brown-robed priest in a little Fiat. First going to see the 100 or so children in the Lizumer army camp. He gave me practice in German and insisted on giving me a bottle of beer and then his cheese and chicken lunch. Got installed in the gloomy dormitory then sat drinking beer outside at a table while two pigs foraged around my feet. Went for a walk in the valley, finding mortar bombs and shrapnel. Had a good Gulasch then met an English couple and their four little girls. Sat around until 9:15 then went to bed with difficulty in the dark dormitory.

Tue 01 Aug

[Tuxer Joch Haus 32T 701068 5219554 2313m]

Up at 6:30 and away at 7:30 in a cloudy cool morning. Cursed myself for leaving the Alpenvereins map in Innsbruck. Two hours to the col below the Geirspitze, then down a frightening path on steep small scree above a pretty little iced-up lake. A traverse and then horror as the marked path set off along a very high and narrow ridge of rotten rock. Turned three gendarmes by kicking steps in the rock. Apparently did the Sagenhorst [2713m] on the way. Then a very steep grass slope to a stony valley. Kicked steps up a snow slope and then at the Geschutzspitze Sattel met two climbers and conversed. Could see the Tuxerjoch Haus. They went right, I went left. I soon lost the path and got on horribly steep grass. Had a nightmare time getting rid of 500-odd sheep. Then sat on my backside in mud. Could not get down the last bit; had to go up again. Desperately tired. Finally did it. washed in a stream then plodded up against a counter-current of day trippers. Not such a good place to stay but my two climbers were there. Very tired. 7.5hrs.

Wed 02 Aug

[Geraer Hütte 33T 699656 5213343 and 2324m] I must have gone W over Tuxerjoch and then in a loop to NW turning S.

Left to the sound of "I loff you" from the kitchen girls. Did not feel up to another mountain route so I went down the valley. Had an apfelsaft at Kasern and continued down to a village of large and beautiful houses. The began the plod back up to the Geraer Hütte in the stifling heat. Through woods and then pasture. Got lost then noticed a steep way up scree to a ridge - the Kastenwand. There was a big electric storm while I was approaching it. I took off my pack frame and huddled wet, cold and frightened under my cagoule until it eased. Then, very tired, over the ridge and miles over loose blocks to the Geraer Hütte. Met by demands for coffee. Met two Englishmen. Had a pleasant schmarrn with cold apple puree for dinner. Took photos of hut and friendly packhorse. Admired the scenery. Found R Howarth of Nottingham in the hut book. Heard from a middle-aged German couple that the mountain route from the Tuxerjochhaus was easy!

Thu 03 Aug

Rain today. Away at 7:30 plodding down the packhorse track. Stopped for a while and got stuck to a Fir Tree. Passed some little pillars of shattered rock and a few very primitive farms. Arrived at a little place called Vals as the sun broke out and found the Englishmen camping there. Waited for 3hrs as they packed and then had a drink. They gave me a lift down to the Brenner road - enlivened by the fussy PhD geologist getting stung by a bee. Posted some cards at Steinach. Walked under the vast new highway bridge and got an easy lift to Gschnitz. Had two beers in the sun and then found a place- the Feurstein Gasthof - further up the valley. A shower, a bed with a down cover, a Wiener Schitzel and a walk through the villages. Felt horribly stiff in the thighs and calves.

Fri 04 Aug

[Innsbrucker Hütte 33T 675529 5212550 2369m]

Raining. Had a leisurely breakfast with fresh bread. Then a huge glass of sparkling orange. It wasn't going to get better so I set off at 8:30. Mist and cows. Wood and pasture. Very very steep. Waist high wet grass, little black lizards, swirling clouds. All like a dream or mild nightmare. Then out on harder going. A seilbahn to look at and the hut above. Man going up on the materialseilbahn. Did it in 3hrs. Really wet. Hut crowded but food good. A long afternoon alone in the hut, with my clothes drying by a Dalek-like stove. Wrote postcards. The evening was pleasant with candles on the table - mine wouldn't burn square. A big group of Austrians or Germans sang. I ate my first Bergsteigeressen. It was good.

Sat 05 Aug

[Bremer 33T 672083 5207084 2413m]

Breakfast and off at 7:20. The hut maid said the hohenweg was dangerous alone but the warden said it was OK. Got lost on a snowfield still in sight of the Innsbrucker. Got going again as the mist and rain closed in. The path was well marked apart from the snowfields. There were a few redundant fixed ropes on the route and I experienced falling stones. Felt cold and kept going. Arrived after 5hrs - on a 6hr route. The last section up a gully filled with sun-eroded snow was interesting and the Bremer Hütte literally appeared from the mist 30ft away. Very wet again. As I sat drying the English family (Brian and Nancy) arrived again and we compared notes. I warned them of the Sagenhorst route which they were well advised to avoid. The hut was not as good as the Innsbrucker but had the merit of 7 kids in the kitchen for entertainment - including one mongol. It is chaos.

Sun 06 Aug

The weather is awful. Mist and rain. Stayed for a rest day and read Brian's copy of the Ipcress File. The party of Germans arrived by the Hohenweg and so did Brian's friends Ernst and Gerda. Later, just as it got dark, two English lads Glen and Mike turned up. They were dead beat having done Habicht and then the Hohenweg today.

Mon 07 Aug

[Nürnberger Hütte 33T 668632 5206857 2297m]

Up late to a pleasant morning. Set off as last party from the jut with Glen and Mike. Ambled up the Simmingsjochl where by a little hut we had a splendid view of snowfields leading up to the Feurstein. Followed the Cranshaws down the path and I was horrified to see the steep snow with runout on rocks which their little girls crossed. Lower down the slope we tried to glissade but the snow was too cold! Passed many fixed ropes - one of which was justified on a polished groove. The "exciting scrambling" of AAC6 proved I was definitely off course on my first day. Arrived at the Nürnberger Hütte and had a good lunch. A really palatial hut inside - carved beams in the dining room and white painted luxurious dormitories. After lunch we went up to look at a crag which proved to be loose and greasy. Mike and Glen went up it in two pitches while I retreated and walked up to the col. Found I had two hours more sunshine than the hut and there is a beautiful green lake below the Grünausee.

Tue 08 Aug

[Dresdner 33T 662665 5207181 2308m]

Off earlier today. It was really beautiful going down past the Grünausee. Had lunch at the Sulzenau Hütte, when we finally got the inefficient staff to serve us. Glen had a bad headache so we sat for a while and I took some photos of goats outside the Winterhaus. Finally we set off up the moraine in fine sun. We met a couple of Englishmen on the way. The path gave us an incredibly beautiful view of the Sulzenauferner and the Fernerstube. Took photos. Went up over the Peilsjoch meeting a troop of repulsive little French Boy Scouts., then down a broken ridge and scree slopes, across a water-cut ravine to the Dresdner Hütte. The largest hut yet and several people speak good English. The Matratzenlager was horrible: a row of hard and dirty beds under a sloping roof, baked by a narrow gangway. Luckily we got three near the window. Food is not served until six here and it is so crowded we could not get a table for some time.

Wed 09 Aug

Up early and plodded up the Schaufelferner. It was firm snow with no crevasses so we did not need the rope. The view from the col was superb as was the view from a little further South. There were clouds in the East so we scampered up the Schaufelspitze, getting on to some nasty scree on the way. Signed the book, took some photos and looked at the massive cloud banks to the South and East. Went down, stopping to cut steps on a steep snow bank near the col. Had a very good "Bergsteiger" for lunch. The Cranshaws appeared. I wrote some postcards, The two Englishmen, Don and Jim, who we met the other day also turned up. Spent a pleasant evening mainly chatting to a teacher of English who I first saw in the Innsbrucker. Spent some time watching the two very attractive girls who run the hut: which they have apparently done since their father died a year ago. The highlight of the evening was when a window blew in leaving a very surprised fellow wearing it like a necklace.

Thu 10 Aug

Up at six, off at seven to the Zuckerhutl, despite poor conditions. We wasted time but had fun crossing the dry crevasses on the glacier. It was interesting without crampons. Got as far as the Aperer Pfaffengrat when it began to rain. We turned back and it soon became a downpour. The ice was slippery although we avoided the crevasses. Had lightning as well. Ran down the moraine and, at the hut, changed. We then wrung out our clothes and hung them in the drying room. Later I borrowed a razor for a trim. Quiet evening. Late in the evening Walter the guide produced a Chamois which the kitchen man had shot today. It seemed a bit gruesome. Spent some time with the English-teacher again.

Fri 11 Aug

Really rough morning. Played cards etc. Later we went out to photograph the chamois and ended up trying to traverse the hut on the stonework. Had trouble under one window and soon had everyone, including some locals, trying it: all without success. Packed and left after lunch. It was brighter and got better as we walked. We walked down to Ranalt through the woodlands, remarking about the heavier feeling of the air. Got the postauto to Neustift and got a room and comfortable beds in the annexe to the Salzbergerhof - on an introduction by Walter. Walked around looking at the shops. Bought chocolate etc. and Glen took his boots to be mended. Had an excellent dinner of Wiener Schnitzel, also an ice-cream with cream. Then off to our luxury beds.

Sat 12 Aug

Up for the 7:20 bus. Mike and I left Glen as his boots were not ready. The postauto got really crowded and the luggage was piled high on the trailer. We spent the whole journey expecting the luggage to fall off. On arrival I changed the dollars Joan gave me then went to the Silgasse YHA. There was still time to get in the showers which was bliss. I then washed all my clothes and hung them on the balcony to dry. Had a quiet day around town. Did not see Mike and Glen again. Bought crampon rubbers which really fitted my Grivels. Also bought some short snow gaiters and enough Velcro strip to do my climbing breeches. Spent some long time sewing it on. In the evening I went to dinner with a British couple and an American girl. Went to bed at nine and slept despite a terrific din.

Sun 13 Aug

[Berliner Hütte 33T 713761 5211747 2044m]

Up early. Had breakfast and wandered around town. Spent some time sitting in the sun. Finally got my gear to the station to meet the train. Collared a fellow with a tiny beard and together we found a guide. Had a good lunch with one other member of the group - a woman. Had a hair-raising ride to Mayrhofen. The group contains a fellow with queer hair, a pleasant Scotsman and a very nondescript fellow. At Mayrhofen they were having a festival, so we watched the procession. We met our guides. Peter Habeler - very young looking, speaks good English. Toni (Anton) Volgger - older, walnut-skinned and rather shy, friendly. We ploughed up to Ginzling then by a one-track tunnel to the Breitlahner Hütte, then a three hour walk to the Berliner including a long stop. I found the pace fast despite my two weeks acclimatisation. The woman could not keep up. The Berliner Hütte is vast, old and in pretentious style. The food is good and we had three courses.

Mon 14 Aug

Up at 6, away 7. Misty conditions. Plodded up path across scree and on to snow. By then Jean was miles behind and shouted she was going back. The mist thickened and we turned up a steep snow slope to the Berliner Spitze. Quite exciting, although secure in knee-depth bucket steps. Roped up on a snow joch. Up a very broken ridge in swirling mist and some snow. Arrived at the top after doing the Nordgrat. Came down the ordinary route. Pleasant walk down as conditions improved. Good lunch. Today I climbed with Peter and Piers was roped behind me. It felt horribly insecure moving together on a tight rope. It was quite clear in the afternoon. We looked through the telescope and could see two climbers signing the book on the Berlinerspitze! I must remember to face away from the hut when peeing. We were talking to Peter over Dinner. He has done things like the Bonatti Pillar and the Walker Spur, plus two attempts on the Eiger Nordwand. Going up the Ochsener tomorrow.

Tue 15 Aug

Raining today. Up at 6:30 and out at 8:30 for a walk. Walked up to the Schwartzsee, being stopped on the way by soldiers with a machine gun covering the path. Carried on and went up the Rossköpfe via snow-covered scree. Jean was impossible! We are all getting fed up with her alternate boasting and complaining and she does nothing else. It was cold and damp at the top and the face was overhanging near the top - most formidable. Peter says it is the Feldkopf tomorrow with one pitch of IV. Hope it isn't too much like this face. Down by 1 for an excellent lunch with cream cake - according to Smythe this was a speciality before the War. Posted cards to Joan and Dad then had a lazy day. I am a bit worried about the Feldkopf tomorrow.

Wed 16 Aug

Up at 5:30, away 6:30. Glorious morning. Left Jean on the Schwarzsee. Fast pace up the snow to the base of the rock. Don promptly dropped his anorak so we let him stay on the rocks. Peter, Piers and me on the first rope. On the second Vic puked on the second pitch and went down again. Found myself enjoying it. A step left on one small foothold only was awkward. Came out on the ramp of the normal route up which a party of at least 20 was ascending, then up the wall above to a knife edge ridge on the "nick". Piers put down a few stones and I began to feel glad we were not on the ordinary route. A lovely move round a corner traversing on hand jugs, then a difficult pitch. Piers started it standing on my arm! He then came off, complete with a large ugly rock. I didn't come off, but I nearly pulled-out a rock the size of a suitcase. Shattered rock to the top and it was glorious. A rest then back down by 3 feeling very pleased. I like climbing with Piers on the rope, he is a pleasant companion.

Thu 17 Aug

Up 5. Out 6. No Jean, as the Turnerkamp is a long day. Had rain on the way up. Crossing the bergschrund was exciting and there was ice under the snow. Just then a snowstorm came on and we scrambled up the fixed rope to the joch and shelter. Ate our packed lunch there. It was too bad for the Turnerkamp and I was feeling awful - very weak and giddy. We went up the Rossrugspitze then, because of me, our rope skirted the Moselenock peak. By then the weather was good and I was feeling much better. We descended the glacier though some very beautiful crevasses and ice-falls. Then back down for lunch. The two good meals a day are wonderful. Good cooking and generous helpings. In the evening a fellow arrived and asked in French if I spoke French or English: he was American. He was called Vic and had just crossed the Atlantic in a sailing ship as crew. We gave him advice about walking to the Greizer Hütte tomorrow.

Fri 18 Aug

Rain, Up very late and had a free morning. I strolled past the three pigs and only a few moments later saw one being brought slaughtered up to the hut. After lunch we went up to the glacier. Found my Cassin ice screw would not even go in, but the Salewa and Stubai Maroa were good. Cramponned up the ice fall with Jean being useless as usual. We did a traverse on the lobster-claws and I found it very painful on the feet. Toni pointed out to me that my boots were bending a lot. We then went to a big crevasse and practised seil rolle crevasse rescue. During my turn to be rescued the karabiners got crossed and gave me a good whack in the teeth as the pull came on. I took a whole series of photos of Alan being rescued. We are going to do the Grosser Moseler tomorrow by the waxeckgrat. The snow ridge looks formidable.

Sat 19 Aug

Up at 4:45 and away by 5:45. The weather was good and we kept a steady pace up the glacier. Toni took Vic and Jean on the other rope. Arriving at the Waxeckgrat we set off up the rock ridge at a furious pace and I was pulled off then held by the rope to Don! The snow ridge was duly reached and ascended. The situation was spectacular but the snow good and the steps large. The ridge to the top was pleasant but taken at a steady run including some rock- climbing. We arrived for a well-earned rest in comfortably under guidebook time to find a motley summit party - evidently the ascent from the other side is a stroll. Stayed for about an hour in strong sun then descended into Italy in order to the Ostliche Moselscharte to regain the glacier - on our way meeting a party we had overtaken on the moraine in the morning! Back by 2:30 well-satisfied to spend the rest of the day quietly. A really fine route.

Sun 20 Aug

Pouring with rain today and misty. Sent a card to Joan otherwise did nothing but pack. Tomorrow we go to the Greizer regardless of the weather.

Mon 21 Aug

[Greizer Hütte 33T 719203 5214009 2227m]

Up 5 away 6 with a pack of more than 40lb. Grey at first then improving above the snowline. We saw a couple roped, cramponned and each with two Heibeler Prussikers -very professional? The slog up to the Schwarzenstein was very gentle - a good ski slope but I was nearly dead and pulling dreadfully on the rope to Piers. Enjoyed the rest on the top - although it was surprisingly cold. Saw the Schwarzenstein Hütte very close and heard dogs barking but it is a Sud Tirol soldiers' barracks. Started down and soon came to very steep snow with some underlying ice patches. Alan fell badly but the rope caught on a rock and held him. We did some spectacular traverses on steep snow in boots. Then a real horror of a traverse above a real grand-daddy crevasse. Peter cut steps but my hair stood on end. Descended some very steep glacier ice - steeper than I would have thought possible, Reached the Greizer Hütte very tired. A pleasant little hut, but very crowded - we had to get half a table cleared for us. Had Jean in the matratzenlager making a fuss as usual.

Tue 22 Aug

Away just after 8. Vic went for colour film, Jean was tired. We headed for the Gigalitz Turm which is a really spectacular tower cleaving the ridge - it is just over 100ft from the col. I sat at the bottom really frightened. However despite loose rock it was a pleasant route and easy although we took some harder variations and I, by my carelessness, made the most difficult move I have ever done on rock: just failing by a hairsbreadth to come off. Returned down a very steep slope unroped after an abseil off the turm and some scrambling on horribly loose-looking rock. We were accompanied by a girl who came over from the Berliner with us - a friend of Peter. She did quite well on the rock. Apparently we are stuck with her for a week. Enjoyed a sunny afternoon and took some photos of the Mörschenscharte path which was made by the old guide we saw in the Berliner Hütte. He only took three months to do it.

Wed 23 Aug

Up 6 away 7. Cool morning. Up some very hard-frozen snow on crampons today then up a steep snow-filled couloir to reach the NW ridge of the Grosser Loffler. It was steep enough to require crampons and axe-cuts and was pretty stimulating. Above it was a boulder-choked section and a German friend of Peter, who had been thrust upon us for the day, brought down one the size of a garbage can. We then took the ridge to the summit. It was delightful scrambling with some little problems. Pity it was misty. There was a fine great jump between two gendarmes on route. Jean was really awful today and Toni got very fed-up with her. Came down by the normal route over stone-strewn snow and saw a vast rock-fall take place on the other side of the glacier. Felt angry with peter on the way for glissading on stuff where I couldn't do likewise. Back about 2 for a quiet rainy afternoon. This was just as well as we had no sleep last night because of some gross and horrible old Kraut in our midst.

Thu 24 Aug

A real anticlimax for our last day. It was mist and rain so we were confined to the hut. In the evening I filled in Peter's Berfuhrerbuch and we all sat around a couple of large flagons of wine until quite late - although Toni was missing having gone down today. Retired for a dreamless sleep.

Fri 25 Aug

Away at six. Trotted down through the mists to Ginzling where I changed my clothes and we all got in the VW - this time with a sane driver, Parted with Peter at Mayrhofen and Toni escorted us to Innsbruck.

Next page

View Photo Set 1/3 | Set 2/3 | Diary