4.30am and there was movement at the hut. After a night of intermittent movement at the hut, I did take notice of this one and not try to fall back asleep. The skies outside my window were a lighter shade of black than the other times. I had to be packed, dressed, booted and harnessed for a semi alpine start before 6am if possible. Breakfast 2 slices of bread with jam and Nutella (yum) with coffee, don’t hold the sugar.
It was crampons from the start today, like just out the front door of the hut. Whilst we weren’t the first to start, we made good progress and passed the occasional party on the steep snowfield before getting to the rocky spur. This was a new experience climbing over icy rocks with crampons. You had to place them carefully and trust the sharp points held on to the irregularities of the rock.
Every now and then it was safe to stop and look around and take the occasional photo. The other groups made good models to give scale to the landscape. We climbed the Großglockner via the standard route over the little Glockner, back down over a very narrow spur and then up the final spur to the summit. As we were the third team up we had time and room for photos before heading back down. Passing teams heading up was a bit tricky at times, as was down-climbing the rocky spur. We were back at the hut in time for a second breakfast by 8am. A 2 hour roundtrip, apparently a very good time. My fitness training and ability to cope with the altitude all good.
Whilst the view from the top could be described as cloudy, it did add atmosphere and meant we weren’t cooked by the sun. Once further down it was pretty special as you could see all the way down the valley to the Lucknerhaus. Once the rocky spur from Adlersruhe (the other name for the Erzherzog Johann Hut) was negotiated, the rest of the walk down the glacier was quick, even though we were still roped up. We did unrope once we past the steeper part of the glacier. The snow was softening and had totally disappeared towards the Stüdlhut, and we were left to walk on rocky moraine fields. By that stage the crampons were off also.
10am at the Stüdlhut and a third breakfast, an excellent goulash soup and a beer. I said goodbye to Armin and walked down the valley taking the occasional photo of the flowers and the spectacular scenery. By the time I got to the car it was close to a 2000 meter drop in altitude. Back to the Maria Theresia Chalet and a rest, well actually a small walk after dinner on flat ground to relax the legs.