Martin Feistl and Silvan Metz shovel snow and excavate their way through a first ascent of a new route on the Maningkogel.
Words by Martin Feistl. Images by Martin Feistl and Silvan Metz. Film by Silvan Metz.
2022 begins as an exceptionally relaxed ice climbing season. I check a list every 2 days at webcams important to me, but there is just no ice, neither on the cams, nor on Instagram, or in the real world. Dumb? No, not at all! Because this persistent non-existence of ice has made me feel good about climbing routes in the worst possible conditions, the idea of which I would never have thought of in a normal season. One of these routes was the "Northeast Ridge" on the Maningkogel, actually an easy ridge climbing maximum in the 4th grade disfigured by bolts, which we have happily clipped at half a meter of fresh snow - at least where we found them. A valley next to it with a permanent view of the often overrun Zwölferkogel North Face, Lea and I burrowed in just under 3 hours, our heads fixed rigidly on the GPS track on the phone, through the first snow to the beginning of the ridge. Already in the approach I remember the proximity of the mountain to Mount Everest. This already settles the question of the geo-tag. It's also good not to be always on the Matterhorn on Instagram. But why post? A question that I can answer not always, here however clearly with self-interest: Already for some years it was clear to me that one can still draw new lines on this wall, and there it would be nevertheless practical, if the laboriously into-milled trace would be consolidated by a post still a little bit? This perfidious plan somehow worked, even if it was more by chance that a few days later a few hikers got lost in our track.
A week later Silvan and I shovel ourselves like two coal excavators from Lützerath - well actually only Silvan - a 300 meter long trench up to the beginning of the headwall. Just as rough, rude and unnecessary, but without deadly consequences for bystanders. While we partly gain only 50 meters of altitude per hour, we can't conclusively clarify whether the hikers, who simply for the sake of hiking, have dug their way up most of our old trail are crazier, or we are. At the end of this trench, we pitch our tent on a platform blown out by wind at the foot of the headwall and begin to eat and sleep alternately. In the meantime we almost burned down the tent, so that we fortunately only theoretically thought about what we would have done then. Winter gas definitely has its raison d'être, but I'll explain that to you another time, maybe in a "How to Winter Camp Tutorial"?
Right out of the tent I start the next morning into the crux pitch. A 30 meter long fight against a slightly overhanging dihedral at the end. Twice I hang for several minutes almost crying on my ice tools and wait for the blood to shoot back into my fingertips. Once the right hand and 5 minutes later the left. A wonderfully terrible feeling, without which alpinism would be lacking a good portion of masochism. At the same time, it feels more as if the blood is crawling in leisurely bit by bit, only to crawl back a bit just before release. Sounds transcendent and blood doesn't crawl, I know. But at some point it was in and that's where it should stay for the rest of the day. The second pitch represents the absolute heart of the line and was the main reason I wanted to climb this wall. A nearly 20 meter long shoulder crack, which promises the highest torment pleasure with perfect mobile protection. Who wonders now nevertheless, why I wanted to go there: There is a crack. Where there is a crack, there is a line. Where there's a line, there's an artist who has to draw with it. We are these artists. By means of a daring slab traverse, I bring us to easier terrain and for the last 2 pitches Silvan again takes the lead to bring us to the small summit of our passion in the last light of day.
What remains is an extraordinarily demanding, at first glance completely illogical line a few meters off the northeast ridge on some hump that nobody knows, but which demands extreme due to the conditions, temperatures, protection and technical skills.It's not just a line and an adventure with a friend who belayed me for 5 hours for 3 pitches, cheered me on and filmed me, but it's a line that wants to show what lasting experiences are possible right on your doorstep if you're willing to understand renunciation as a gain.