Adventure on the Via Ferrata in Achensee
While checking out my program of the blogtrip I made to Achensee at the beginning of this summer, my heart skipped a beat. Of anxiety. I was scheduled to do a Via Ferrata! My previous experience on a Ferrata was not the best ever as I thought it was pretty scary and even though I had been practising a bit on the Calmont Klettersteig in Germany in the meanwhile, I wasn’t sure it was going to be a whole lot of fun. But as I think you should give certain things in life a second try, I decided to search for the inner adventurer in me and just go for it. And so I met my guide Herwig at 09.30 at the cable car, ready to head up into the Rofan Mountains.
Herwig owns an adventure company at the Achensee and guides hikes, Via Ferrata’s and also arranges canyoneering and tubing excursions in the area. Until recently he worked at the Alpenverein so he has ample experience in guiding in the mountains. I would trust him with my life. The first question he asked was ‘is blue your favorite color?’ which made me frown, but then I realized I was wearing a blue Kari Traa shirt, had blue nails and was wearing my blue Suunto watch. As it turned out, he had also brought me a blue helmet, so I could head into the mountains all matched up and fashionable.
Before I left for Austria I had already looked up the Via Ferrata possibilities around Achensee. The one he planned on taking me on, was a part of the Five Peaks Ferrata, one of the best Ferrata’s in Austria. On their website I noticed that the Ferrata mostly were C or D level, on a scale from A-G. My previous one in Italy was a B and I thought that already was a bit of a challenge, so I hoped that we’d just stick to a C this time, which we did. Herwig usually does not take people out on a D unless they have previous experience.
So it was about time to get that adrenaline pumping again. We take the cable car up to 1.840 meters and start our hike towards the mountains from there. Within minutes I realize that my shape is terrible. I spent the past days in bed with a food poisoning and with every step I take, my lungs are bursting. Luckily Herwig quickly notices this and slows down the walking pace. About an hour later we get to the access point of the mountain we are climbing this morning, the Haidachstellwand. Here I put on my harness and helmet and get ready for some action. I take a bit of water and energy candies too because the steel cable above me looks kind of terrifying.
Herwig explains me how to work with the carabiners and soon we are ready for take off. This first part is actually one of the steepest, but I should be fine. Right above me is an iron cable (Via Ferrata means Iron Way) and a vertical wall, with just a tiny iron step every now and then. He shows me how to start and within a minute, he has passed this part of the way, leaving me wondering how those alpinists make it look like this is super easy. I gather enough courage to start my climb up because I know I can do it. Herwig explains me where to put my feet and how to place them on the rock so I have more and more friction. He also notices I’m putting too much pressure on my arms and that my legs are the ones to get me up. Which is in fact my weak point, because my legs are already tired from the hike up here.
After about ten vertical meters I’ve arrived at the first iron steps. I’ve done those before on various hikes in Germany so those are a piece of cake for me. Being short legged it’s sometimes a bit of a challenge to make it to the next step but Herwig is there to give me an extra hand or pull up when necessary. In about half an hour we finish the first part of the climb. From here I look down and then suddenly adrenaline kicks in. Holy shit, that’s pretty high and steep! A few moments later we get to a part that many people find challenging, which is just two horizontal cables to cross from one part of the mountain to the other. This I have done many times before and I can do without trouble, regardless of the altitude. After this, there’s the next climb, the hardest part of the way up, but I’m slowly starting to feel more comfortable and make my way up quite okay.
From here it’s quite a flat walk to the 2.192 meter high peak of the Haidachstellwand. We congratulate each other with a ‘Bergheil!’ and soon after start our hike back to the Erfurterhütte, where I order a large Apfelschörle and some fattening Käsespätzele. I finish it within no-time and half way during the afternoon, I’m back at the cable car station with an incredible experience to look back at.
All in all, it seemed more scary than it was and I really enjoyed this Via Ferrata in Achensee. If you’d like to do this Via Ferrata you can do it by yourself in case you have the proper gear and experience. If not, then you must hire a guide who can help you out. The fit and experienced ones can even do all the five peaks of this area in one day. For more information you can visit the Five Peaks Ferrata website and of course Herwig’s website. Do not forget to also check out the short video that I made about my trip in this area!
This was my first blog about my trip to Austria, more will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. If you’d like to read more about Austria in the mean while, then you may also like these posts:
– Hiking in the Kaisertal in Austria
– The pretties mountain lakes in Austria … next to the highway!
– Top destinations in Europe for experienced hikers
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Thanks for sharing!