Friday 5 July 2013


A few days ago I (Jerry) visited an old friend, Hoher Grimming (mt. Grimming). 

It was a mountain that I decided to sojourn to 11 years ago. At the time, I was so impressed by its striking appearance, its height (2351m high with over 1500m elevation difference from bottom to top) and the fact that it is Europe's highest free standing mountain that I had to climb it...solo!

Getting to the mountain itself was an adventure of its own. Between where I was living (Ramsau) and Mt. Grimming was a large mountain range in the Austrian alps called the Dachstein Tauern. I could either go around the mountains, which was about an hour drive for which I had no car, or I could take the short cut and walk over the mountain range- so I took the option that any logical and responsible 21 year-old would take, I walked over the mountain range. 

It started with a 1000m ascent to get to the backside of the range where I encountered a large landscape of rolling glacier carved limestone that I could cross, according to my excellent orientational map skills, by the days end. My calculations turned out to be somewhat off. By sunset I was only what looked to be halfway through the rocky terrain and I was out of water. I found the flattest spot possible, pitched my tent, and slept. In the morning I scraped frost off my tent, packed it up, and kept going.

As I hiked I soon spotted a mountain hut in the distance. The hut, I knew, was along the trail I had planned to take and because I was out of water and dying of thirst I was desperate to reach it. As I continued hiking I noticed the trail veering away from the direction of the hut. Because I had lost my location on the map I decided to find my own way to the hut. I soon found out that this was the wrong decision. Before long I was scaling small cliffs and had actually lost sight of where the hut even was! At this point I got nervous. If I broke a leg or worse at this point I would never have been found. So I prayed for help of any kind and kept going. Soon after I noticed a large stick coming up from the ground. When I walked to it I noticed another one off in the distance and walked to it. This continued a few more times until the markers became inukshuks (markers made of rock piles). I was very relieved when eventually I found myself back on the trail, this time heading in the direction of the hut. When I looked back to where I had first veered off, I could see why the trail itself had veered- not too far from trail was a large cliff!  From that point on I paid closer attention to where I was on the map.

By the end of that day I finally found myself on the other side of the mountain range; in the historic town of Hallstaat. I was too far from the Grimming to walk to it at that point so I hitchiked my way to Bad Mitterndorf, the small village beside the Grimming. The sun was setting when I first saw the imposing mountain. To see it in person filled me with fear- but also with excitment. I wasn't sure if it would be a good decision to climb the mountain at that point so I decided to sleep on it. I found a good spot in a farmers field. But after being discovered by a herd of curious cows I decided to retreat up into the rafters of a small hay house. It was comfortable, and I didn't have to set up my tent which meant a quick start in the morning. This is the hay house where I slept:

In the morning my feelings about the climb were no different. I decided to climb to where the treeline ended and the real climbing began to see how the fear factor was at that point. As I approached the treeline I noticed someone hiking behind me. He soon caught up to me and I quickly noticed that he was missing a hand! He told me he had climbed the mountain several times by himself without any problems (I didn't have the nerve to ask if he had lost his hand on one of those climbs!). My fear factor then dropped considerably and I decided to go on with the climb.

The climb was a beautiful one. Great weather with amazing views, and I even saw a mountain ram at one point. The climb was steep; at some stages I was even doing some low grade rock climbing. But I was comfortable and enjoyed every step to the top. It was the decent down the other side that was the hardest challenge. The decent was almost 2000m and I had run out of water. I was close to dropping to my knees in exhaustion before I heard a trickle in the distance. It turned out to be a natural spring fed fountain! I felt like I could drink it dry, but didn't. From there I completed the decent, thus beginning the next leg of my journey... to hitchhike to Italy. I don't have time to tell that story now but if I can get around to it I will. 

I really enjoyed being able to introduce Miriam and Chrissie to my old friend:

I do have non-digital pictures of the Grimming sojourn. If people are interested I can scan them and post them. Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know what you thought of my story.

1 comment:

  1. Finally caught up on my reading. Good writing, Jerry! Beautiful sights! Hope you are doing well. Missed you at the lake. :)