Outdoor 09 March 2018 Back to list
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Adventures in the Bavarian Alps

Ines Papert and Luka Lindic with the (possibly) first traverse of the Watzmann Family in Winter.

Adventures in the Bavarian Alps

Inspired by the perfect skyline that the Watzmann Family forms we ventured into the area several times this winter during preparations for our Himalaya  expedition. We kept the whole traverse in mind as an optional “training project” for our ambitious goal of the south face of Shishapangma (8027m) in Tibet, which we will attempt this year in April/May, since it promises a long climbing day in the mountains. The fact that we couldn’t find any information whether this traverse had already been done in winter or not made us even more motivated. The winter started early this season and offered great ski touring in the Watzmann area. With the big amount of snow and the warm temperatures later around Christmas the conditions for powder skiing changed into packed snow better for alpine climbing.

We somehow got the feeling that the most logical direction would be from east to west, starting with the smaller of the 2 main Watzmann summits (Kleiner Watzmann) and finishing on the highest point, Mittelspitze Watzmann 2713 m. We started the climb with the idea of staying as close as possible to the skyline but using the weaknesses in the terrain that sometimes lead you to the left,
sometimes to right of the ridge.

From our knowledge we had to wait for the perfect day to make the attempt reasonable without obvious risks like avalanches. The 11th of January promised cloudy skies with good temperatures. Perfect, this was the day to go.
While starting the climb in the dark up the north-east ridge of Kleine Watzmann we still didn’t know which line exactly we would take later in the day. Because we didn't find any info from previous parties who had climbed parts of this traverse in winter.

We reached the summit of Kleine Watzmann at 7:30 in the morning and immediately started descending over the south ridge. We managed to descend it by down climbing and one 30m rappel we did from the piton we placed. From there on we continued with traversing all of the five Watzman Kids moslty in the easier terrain where we moved unroped. On the way we needed to make several rappels and traverse some very exposed snowy ridges. We needed to place all of the anchors for the rappels. 

During the descent from fifth child we decided to try to climb to Watzamnn Mittelspitze directly from the ridge as the more lower angled Wieder route looked to dangerous with sliding snow. We reached the Skischarte at 14:30 and made an hour long brake to melt snow for soup and coffee.

At 15:30 we started climbing up towards Mittelspitze. For the first three pitches we still climbed in the day light. From there one we climbed in the dark. After 7 more pitches of terrain with difficulties up to M5 and steep snow up to 80° we reached the highest point of Watzmann. We traversed the ridge to Hocheck and descended via the normal route to Watzmann House and further to our car.

Climbers: Ines Papert & Luka Lindič
Route: Watzmann Family Traverse
Location: Eastern Alps, Berchtesgaden, Bayern, Germany
Route description: north-east ridge to Kleine Watzmann - descent on south-west ridge from Kleine Watzmann - traverse of all five Watzmann Kids - east face of Watzmann Mittelspitze - descent via traverse to Hocheck and normal route to Watzmann House.
Time: 3.45 a.m. - 11.10 p.m. from car to car (Parking lot Hammerstiel Schönau am Königssee) 19h 25min
Vertical meters: 3. 458 m

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