First Free Route on Kristallwand
Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel establish 'The loss of the Demantoid', a new alpine multi-pitch rock climb up the Kristallwand face on Kirchkogel (3280m) in Austria. This route was dedicated to their late friend Gerry Fiegl.
The 3280m high Kirchkogel in the Ötztal Alps is not really well known. But if you walk up the higher Gaisberg Valley it's north face catches your attention immediately. Surrounded by a great glacier landscape the Kristallwand rises above your head. A steep rock face well hidden, which is mainly characterized by chossy rock, just a few obvious lines and a really steep overhang.
Ever since Hansjörg climbed the first two routes of the wall in 2012 and 2014, he has always wanted to go back to find a free climbable line.
"I looked on the left part of the wall, where the rock is perfect. The only thing that kept me from doing it was that it's pretty close and compact. So opening the route with minimum bolts was the hardest thing of my recent adventure on this wall. My first visit this season was really promising and already after that day I knew, that working on this route will be a lot of fun and it was exactly the thing I was searching for." - Hansjörg Auer
After three days of opening the line and one day of checking the hardest pitches, Hansjörg grabbed the free ascent on August 19 with difficulties up to 7c+.
"After all what happened to me and Alex on Nilgiri South (with the loss of our good friend Gerry Fiegl), we thought that ‘The loss of the Demantoid’ is a great name for the route." - Hansjörg Auer
A 'demantoid' is one of the most precious gemstones that exist and the team dedicated this new climb in his memory.
There is an interesting fact around this face: The Kristallwand had been first attempted over 70 years ago by legendary Austrian alpinist Hermann Buhl and since then nobody else tried to climb it. When Hansjörg came there in 2012 to open the first route, he found his piton where these guys abseiled off.
Photo: Elias Holzknecht