Details for climbers

Said of the route (German - translation below):

"An der Nordseite des wenig besuchten Westlichen Wengenkopfes findet man eine lange grosszügige Alpinkletterei. Die Route verläuft durch eine der höchsten Allgäuwände und wird seit der sanften Sanierung wieder regelmässig wiederholt." (Ab 7 Mal/Jahr…)
"Ein vergessener Klassiker der 1999 wiederentdeckt und saniert wurde. Landschaftlich grossartige Kletterei in ordentlichem Fels. Dass es in den leichten Seillängen oft auch loses Gestein herumliegt, wird den Allgäu-Kenner nicht überraschen."
Panico topo guide 6th ed, 2010.

"Der Fels ist an den schweren Stellen gut bis sehr gut, doch dazwischen, davor, danach und daneben ist es meist deutlich brüchiger und schuttbedeckt."

Free translation:

"On the north face of the seldom visited Westliche Wengenkopf one finds a long, hefty alpine climb. The route ascends one of the highest walls of Allgäu, and since the discrete restoration it is regularly climbed again (From 7 times per year according to the route book)."
"A forgotten classic that was rediscovered and restored in 1999. A climb in grandiose scenery on good rock. That the easier pitches have loose rock lying around will not surprise the Allgäu adept climber."

"The rock quality on the harder parts is good or very good, but before, between, beside and after it is mostly much more brittle and covered with scree."

Comments by Sandra

My overall personal experience of the route (as lead climber of pitches 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13 and seconding the rest) is that of a true Allgäu gem. I'd love to climb it again if it weren't for the extraordinarily long descent. However it's only for climbers comfortable with Allgäu type rock. Not that it's more brittle here than on other comparable walls we've climbed in the region; on the contrary, I think it's good rock quality and nice climbing most of the time. Just as the guide book says, it shouldn't come as a surprise that one has to tread carefully.

The facts in the Panico topo guide may not always be completely correct. For example, there's sometimes a bolt or even two more in reality than drawn in the topo, if one finds them. Below are how many we (more or less) remember to have found. Also, some pitches are even longer than described in the topo (we went with a double 50 m rope instead of 60 m, being also careful to extend all protection).

In general we found that the route nicely follows the natural line, and most bolts were rather easy to spot given some time. However, in particular the belay stand after the scramble pitch 6 was slightly off the line we expected, and we didn't find it until afterwards (see below for details).

The belay stands are almost all comfortable, making it an enjoyable experience. Also, there's a 3rd bolt on most belay stands with a rapel biner attached. We wouldn't like to abseil here, but it does open for a retreat if necessary.

The start:

Located some 50 m on the left hand side above the deepest point of rock, there were at the time two little cairns just at the start. The single bolt is easy to spot.

Pitch 1:

UIAA 3, 45 m, 2 bolts. Easy with loose rock. The second bolt is easily located from the start and indicates the natural line to follow. Given that it's the first pitch, it would have been nice with some protection. It's not easily protectable and Markus had a 15 m runout on loose rock.

Pitch 2:

3+, 25 m, 2 bolts. Easy, yet not nearly as loose as anticipated if one is careful. Possible to protect. Sandra thoroughly enjoyed the lead, and she can get shaky if it's too loose ;-).

Pitch 3:

4+, 47 m, 4 bolts. The climbing parts into two grooves. Markus took the rightmost one and our 50 m ropes were not enough. Probably one should instead take the grassy left one. He did clip the bolts though. The 4+ sections are bolted, but in between there are extended easy passages, not easily protected.

Pitch 4:

5-, 42 m, 5 bolts. Well protected and fun climbing.

Pitch 5:

1-2, 50 m; the first of the two easy scrambles. This pitch was definitely nicer than we had anticipated. Previous reports tell of a "gravel pit", which it may perhaps look like from above. But while climbing it's rather like firm steps, flat but with some scree on top. One doesn't need to drag anything down if careful… we didn't send a single rock falling.

Pitch 6:

1-2, 50 m; the second scramble. To begin with it's pretty similar to the previous pitch, and possible to protect occationally if needed. After going (what Sandra percieved as) the natural way straight up for some 30 m, one comes to an almost walkable slab that goes up to the left, bordered on its right side with a low (1-2 m) wall. As one would think the route follows the slab all the way until the 50+ meters are out. The belay stand is to the left, on a free standing small rock formation. Perhaps a bit illogical placement since one has to leave the firm slab and cross out on the scree - but then perhaps, we were too far to the right all the way.

Also, on this particular pitch (second part) rock fall is difficult to avoid. On the other pitches this was never a problem, but here, and especially at the stand after the 6th pitch, it's hard to move or work with the rope without sending down a shower. As others have said before, we would not start if we had another team above. This is also where most rock coming from the remaining route would land.

Pitch 7:

4-, 48 m (or 30?), 3 bolts. We have no idea how the Panico topo could come up with 30 m for the pitch. Even though Markus seemed to have followed the natural line, clipped the 3 bolts and extended all slings perfectly to a nice line, he had 48 meters of rope out at reaching stand. 

Pitch 8:

4+, 46 m, 3 bolts. A nice pitch. It keeps slightly to the left at the start.

Pitch 9:

4+, 40 m, 4 bolts. A nice pitch straight up on top of a ridge that in the end traverses a small tower. Rather long distances between bolts, but not difficult.

Pitch 10:

5-, 28 m, 2 bolts. A nice pitch, very short compared to the others with some 25 m. The first part (two bolts, 11-12m) ascends narrow shelves. They aren't protectable but also not too difficult. The crux is short and protected with a bolt.

Pitch 11:

1, 10 m, 1 bolt. This is the traverse to the right on a grass band. There's a bolt mid-way, not drawn in our topo. The pitch is walkable, no climbing.

Pitch 12:

4+, 35 m, 3 bolts. A nice pitch.

Pitch 13:

4-, 49.2 m, 3 bolts. Sandra found it to be the single horrible pitch of the day (Markus coming second didn't find it so bad). After the first rather nice section (slightly right from belay stand), the terrain flattens and one will find an old double-looped sling between two rusty old rings. From here one rounds a corner to the left, after which a bolt is visible in the middle of a last steep passage. It wouldn't hurt with another bolt or two on this pitch; the distances are long, the rock is loose and cracks are too grimy to use.

Pitch 14:

4+, 55 m, 3 bolts. The first bolt is 15-20 meters up in the obvious gorge and a bit nerving to reach. The second bolt is about the same distance. Of course 50 m ropes aren't enough for a 55 m pitch. Markus made a stand on the 2nd bolt reinforced with friends. We could stand reasonably comfortable and the belayer could see the crux section. The crux is adequately bolted and fun. After that, naturally, it all eases as the route finishes.

After the climb:

After a twisted knee we were slower than usual, and it felt like forever just to get to the Hindelanger ferrata. First some 100 meters on steep grassy scree, then easy grass until the last climbing. There's some 60 m on rock, grade 1-2. We went on running belay with a few pieces of protection.

The Hindelanger ferrata should take about an hour if you don't make a big fuss about protection. At the Nebelhorn top station water may be refilled. The toilets were open even after closing time. Now, if one is fit, it might be another two hours crossing the mountain passes Geissfuss and Gängele. We made about 2h40' in a rather slow pace.

Links to tour reports from Bayerländerweg
Detailed Rocksports forum post
Topo picture
Bergstille climbing blog
Another Rocksports forum post
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