Quick acclimatization trip to Großvenediger

In the middle of the September we wanted to climb our first 4000 m / 13 123 ft summit. We already have couple of plans, but before we try to reach such a summit, we need to perform acclimatization trip. Definitely it will not be the perfect, but we need to go to high altitude and we have to manage it during the weekend. From my point of view, best way would be to reach Großvenediger summit.

I have already been there couple years ago, as it was my first glacier trip ever. This time I will lead group of 3 people. All of them have some experience with glaciers. On top of that as far as I know it is safe glacier, so we should be fine. However the weather forecast for the weekend is not good.

Saturady early morning we are leaving our home town heading towards our acclimatization trip to Großvenediger. Around noon I am parking in Hinterbichl village. For the second time it is a starting point for ascent. In close pub we wait for taxi, which takes us to Johannis hut. It saves a lots of time and energy, however we have to pay for it. Tax is 12 eur per person.

From Johannis hut we have to walk. To Defregerhaus it is about 3 hours. I believe we can manage it easily. As soon as we cross small river we start gaining altitude. Path is nice and offers views to couple of summits. Weather forecast says that in the afternoon it will rain.

Ascent is nice and after one hour of walking we are having break for lunch. Break is not long, just to refill energy to be able to walk almost 900 m / 3 000 ft of altitude. Soon we can see Defregerhaus, place where we will spend the night. Last third of the hike is more rocky then previous one, but it is because we are closer and closer to the glacier.

At Defregerhaus we have short break. Later I want to go for short walk, to check the glacier and where is starting point. Weather forecast seems to be correct and dark clouds are above us. Old place, when I for the first time step on the glacier is totally changed. This is not the point where we want to descent to glacier. It must be somewhere else.

As we are ascending and looking for the starting point of our tomorrows glacier experience, weather dramatically change. From the clouds starts raining. Rain soon changes to hailstorm. All of us are properly dressed, but we can feel the pain. We are trying to descent to the Defregerhaus as soon as possible. I am sure that everyone feel each piece of ice hitting their body as I do. It is painful. We are back in the hut, totally wet. Hopefully we will be able to sleep well, despite the fact we had no acclimatization before the night.

Next day, in early morning we are waking up as first once. In the afternoon should be again bad weather. We want to reach Großvenediger and descent as soon as possible. One hailstorm is just enough. As we start ascending to the glacier we can see lightnings on the sky. Actually we do not see lightning it self, we just see the flash. They are far, but it is a bit scary anyway.

Before we enter glacier we discussing if we should try it, or go back. Other group confirm that weather till the noon should be ok, so we are going to reach the summit. Fully equipped with head lamps, we are entering glacier. From the beginning it is easy hike. We are walking almost on the flat. We have to pass couple of crevasses. After the big one, we start ascending steeply.

After the steep part is again the flat one. From here it is not to far to the summit, but we can not see it because of the fog. It is hard to see the path in glacier and I can see barely couple of steps in front of me. Few faster groups are passing us. In this conditions it is better to follow experienced mountain guide. I know for sure that I don`t want to get lost on glacier during this acclimatization trip.

After second steep part we are on the summit. Everywhere around us is just fog. We are in the clouds. We can not see nothing. At least there is a cross and we can take couple of pictures. I agreed to go to this trip only because we needed acclimatization. Otherwise nobody could me get to this one. What is the point to reach the summit and not see the beauty around?

Anyway we spend couple of minutes on the summit waiting for miracle. But clouds did not want to go anyway. We start descending as other people are coming to the Großvenediger. There is not much room for plenty of people. Hope we see something on the way down.

During this acclimatization trip we wanted to ascent also to Rainerhorn, but in this conditions it does not make any sense. Anyway I will have to come again to reach both summits in much better weather conditions. At least we got bit lucky during the descent and could see Rainerhorn for couple of minutes.

On the way back is not dark anymore and we can admire crevasses we have passed this morning. Some of them are really huge and deep. Couple of buses could be hidden in them. I walk around the with full respect. Once again I realize how small I am.

At the Defregerhaus we pack all the stuff we left there and did not need on the summit. After lunch we start descending. Descent is pretty fast in less than two hours we are at taxi parking place, where we have to wait for couple of minutes. Soon we are in my car travelling home. All of us keep finger cross that in few days we will be travelling to Italy – Switzerland border to ascent something higher.

With the weather forecast what we had, I usually do not go to the mountains. It is too risky, there are no views and it is not worth to drive for couple of hours. This time I had to go, because it was only one chance for acclimatization. I know it was not best one, because trip was quick, but sometimes there is no other option.

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