Climbing Grossvenediger (3666 m)
Your very first alpine experience - An easy but spectacular glacier peak
“Exceptional mountain beauty, your crampons scratching the ice, dark and scary crevasses and the romance of roping together :)…”
When I took my first trip to a 3000m+ glacier peak (it was on this mountain), my view of mountains totally changed forever. For many people, Austria’s 4th highest and the Hohe Tauern range’s second highest peak, Grossvenediger is an ideal introduction to 3000ers.
Exceptional mountain beauty, your crampons scratching the ice, dark and scary crevasses and the romance of roping together :)…” All these sensations combine to form your perfect first alpine high mountain experience on a 3000-meter peak.
After climbing Grossvenediger, new horizons open up for you. The unbelievable beauty of the high alpine setting won’t let you rest until you return again to a higher, even more exciting mountain.
Further InfoThis climb is the perfect introduction to alpine mountaineering. However, if the weather is bad, the difficulty rises significantly and your guide may decide that you turn back, or not even try the summit. This trip is a perfect fit if walking 30 km a day among smaller mountains is not a problem for you, or if you have acquired experience on trekking trips.
Is this trip for you?
Day 1: Meeting At the Foot of the Mountain and Walking to Defreggerhaus (2962 m)
Early in the afternoon, you meet your guide and fellow teammates for the climb in Hinterbichl, which is a pretty little village at the foot of Grossvenediger. You can “cheat off” the first half of the long hike up by taking the “Venediger Taxi” – a van service most climbers resort to – up to Johannishütte, a newly renovated refuge at 2121 meters. Today, there’s no glacier walking, so your equipment remains in the rucksack, waiting for the following day’s challenge.
From Johannishütte, it’s a pretty walk up on the alpine hillside. If you come in early July, the grass is full of colourful alpine flowers and it’s easy to spot a marmot here and there… The view of the surrounding mountains, streams and glaciers of the Hohe Tauern are gonna blow your mind. Most people use up a considerable bit of their camera’s memory even before they get to Defreggerhaus.
The hike today is moderately difficult, you should make it to Defreggerhaus in 2.5-3 hours. But take your time, no need to burn all your fuel on the first day. In Defreggerhaus, you meet at least 40 other climbers, but you shouldn’t have to wait around very long for supper… and beer.
Day 2: Climbing Grossvenediger (3666 m), Then Descend back to Defreggerhaus
You won’t get to enjoy your bed very long, as your bearded mountain guide will kick you out of bed (but in a cool way) at dawn. You need to conquer 700 vertical meters to stand on Austria’s 4th highest peak.
You start out with your headlamp in the dark on a rocky trail. After about 15 minutes, you enter the glacier. Here, the team ropes up and you may put your crampons on if the snow is hard. The angle of the slope isn’t very steep, so you won’t have technical problems. However, you may start to feel fatigue, because you’re above 3000 meters. Don’t be alarmed by a slight headache – it’s normal, but let your guide know about it.
The group is treading up the glacier quietly, only the sound of crampons and the wind break the silence. After a 2.5-3 hour climb, you’re on a narrow ridge leading to the summit. The views are astounding. You’re on the region’s second tallest mountain, topped only by Grossglockner – you have an awesome view of Grossglockner to the east and it’s a perfect target after this peak.
After summiting, you descend to Defreggerhaus for a rest.
Day 3: Descend to the Valley, Head on Home
You should get up at around 7-7:30 AM and take the taxi down to the valley and say goodbye to these magnificent mountains. You should count on returning to the Hohe Tauern range to climb Grossglockner – sooner, rather than later 🙂
Equipment and Info
You meet the team at around 1 PM in Hinterbichl at the parking lot in front of Islizer Guesthouse. Here, you can look at the map!
In the Alps above 3000 meters, it’s hard to predict the temperatures even a few days ahead. Even in early summer, it can be as cold as -10 Celsius in the morning when you start out from the hut, and as hot as +10-13 on the glacier, with the glacier, which feels a lot hotter with the intensive sunshine penetrating the thinner atmoshpere and reflecting back from the snow.
If the weather forecast predicts a big, Europe-wide cold front with storms (ie: no chance of being able to climb), then we cancel the trip and postpone it to a later date, agreed on by everyone. Even if good weather is predicted, we can still run into a snowstorm and fog. For the sake of your safety and enjoyment, the guide will turn the group around on the summit bid. That means no summit. This is a decision you have to accept. There is no democracy on guided trips; the guide is responsible for the group’s safety, so he makes the calls.
This is an introductory climb and everyone leading a sporty lifestyle (ie: exercising 3 times a week for at least an hour, working up a sweat) can manage the climb. However, it is important that you arrive well rested. Spending the night at almost 3000 meters can be uncomfortable. You may get a slight headache or experience minor stomach problems. If you come well rested and drink enough, your chances of getting worn out by altitude are smaller.
If you experience any of these signs, let your guide know. He won’t give you pills or anything, but rather send you to sleep – by morning, you’ll be fine!
Gaining altitude on the summit climb, you’ll most likely find yourself losing breath often. This is normal, don’t worry. About 3-5% of our clients get headaches or experience discomfort, but it usually doesn’t keep ’em from summiting.
The price includes equipment hire, so you need not worry about technical gear. Of course, you may bring your own gear if you prefer, but regrettably, we can’t discount the price of the trip, should you bring your own mountaineering gear.
What you do need to bring is good climbing boots broken in, so they won’t hurt your feet. Not sure if your boots are OK or you want to get your first pair? Read our tips here.
Here is a list that may be helpful to get yourself organised before the trip:
- backpack – 30-40 liters (and preferably equipped with these features)
- trekking socks
- waterproof pants – make sure you treat them with water-repellent prior to your trip
- waterproof jacket/softshell – make sure you treat it with water-repellent prior to your trip
- climbing pants
- two pairs of gloves
- warm hat
- bandana/cap against the sun
- suncream (min. factor 30) and lip balm sticks
- 2 fleece sweaters/vest
- light and thin sleeping bag liner for huts
- climbing boots
- trekking poles
- sandals/running shoes for life in the valley
There’s not much point in bringing the following:
- towel (no shower in Defregger. But, you can shower in Johannishütte after the climb)
- plates and eating utencils
- warm sleeping bag
If you want more information on proper equipment, here’s a detailed guide about the three layers, with specific tips on what to bring (or purchase if you still don’t have them).
Food & Drinks
- you can buy warm food and drinks in the huts
- you need to bring sandwiches/energy bars/candy bars for the climb
- bring a 1.5 litre bottle – you can fill it on the way
Get some practical advice on Mountain Food so you maximize your performance – here.