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The Climbing Club • View topic - Germany, Italy, Austria Awesomeness

The Climbing Club

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:52 am 
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UW Climber

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:34 am
Posts: 324
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Disclaimer: This trip report may contain non-climbing and non-hiking activities.

Frank and I just returned from an incredible vacation in Germany, Italy, and Austria, as many of you know. It was my first time in Europe and we wanted to have a trip that included hiking and climbing as well as some general sightseeing. I believe the result was an excellent balance of the three and my only complaint is that our time there was entirely too short!
Frank left a few days ahead of me to spend some extra time with his family and we borrowed his father's car for the duration of vacation, which allowed much more flexibility and also carrying capacity for Stuff. He picked me up at the airport in Frankfurt and we spent 1.5 days in the city looking around and eating some great German food. Good introduction!
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We then drove to Heidelberg, Frank's familiar stomping grounds, and walked the famous Philosophen Weg overlooking the river, castle, and old city. We also walked through the castle grounds and town.
Image Image Image
We spent the evening driving out to Barenbrunnerhof, a small organic farm that offers camping on its pasture. We spent two nights here and toured a ruined castle and did some sandstone climbing in the Pfalz. Frank decided to take me up a classic adventure climb (III+/5.3ish) and it was the hardest 5.3 I've ever done! The crux is an almost-too-wide stemming move with a committing swing to one side of the chimney at some point. It was pretty funny, all climbed with an elderly couple sitting on a park bench watching me struggle up it. I wouldn't be surprised if they could climb it with their eyes closed. :) After that we climbed a slightly harder climb but it felt more comfortable.
Image Image
Our next destination was intended to be Munich, but in Ulm it was raining hard and the radio said the whole of southeastern Germany would continue raining hard the next few days, so instead we drove to Italy and found sunshine! While in Ulm we visited the famous Munster cathedral, with the world's tallest steeple.
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In Italy we stayed at Lago di Garda/Arco for three nights. It happened to be a long weekend for Germany and with the rain it turned out that all of southern Germany was also in Lago di Garda. This worked out fairly well because I could continue speaking my improving German and we ran into one of Frank's friends at a crag. We did two days of limestone sport climbing here and it was the most fun I've ever had sport climbing. Most of it is hard (the easy routes are mostly 5.10), but we did find some awesome 5.6-5.9ish routes (Va,b,c). Frank worked on a VIC for awhile and I led one route (VA/5.7?) that was the highlight of the climbing part of my trip. Limestone is really cool, lots of pockets and knobs, but smearing is not nearly as reliable as granite, as I quickly found out. :) It was fun to get to the crags, which were above the town and lake on narrow roads through olive orchards and vineyards. The weather was perfect, pretty warm with cool breezes. We were really happy to be there and would have been happy to stay even longer. :D
Arco and it's castle: Image Image
Lago di Garda and some limestone slab in the distance: Image
Frank blending in with the locals: Image
View from climbing: Image
We spent the next 1.5 days in Venice and it's totally worth spending the night there to see San Marco Piazza at night and also walk the quiet streets in the morning. It was amazing, beautiful, very romantic city.
Image Image Image Image
We started back north and took a loop through the Dolomites. As soon as we started up the windy mountain road it started pouring rain and we had to pull off the road and wait because we couldn't see it was raining so hard. Welcome to Dolomites! We had wanted to camp, but ended up in a hotel due to the deluge. The next morning we had cloudy skies and did a hike until we hit snow. It was beautiful! We considered some climbing (and were interested!!!!) but the weather was still a little unstable for it. Another time hopefully.
Image Image Image
We suddenly realized we were running out of days and still had so much we wanted to do so had to make some really challenging decisions! We drove to Innsbruck and spent the night with some of Frank's friends and then spent two nights camping in the Zillertal, an alpine valley a bit southeast of Innsbruck. We tried some granite sport climbing but didn't have much fun, so hiked up to a hut for apple cake and beer. More fun! The next day was Frank's birthday and we celebrated by hiking up steep alpine meadows through a few cow pastures to a spectacular ridge. We had a relaxing start to the morning, but were regretting we didn't have time to do a full loop hike down the other side of the ridge. There's a spectacular hut loop hike there that I would love to go back and hike, but it was a little early last week anyway. Sigh. I loved all the cowbells and wildflowers.
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On the drive back north we stopped in Munich for a beer garden lunch (soooo good, I miss the food so much!). And spent the night with some friends in Heidelberg. The next day we continued north, stopping for some scenery at the Rhine River and finally arriving in Dortmund to stay with Frank's parents for two days. We had a wonderful time and communicated well despite some language difficulties on my end. :D The most important thing I learned from them was "Immer essen!" (Always eating!). We certainly didn't go hungry and it was fun to see their huge garden and Frank's home.
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Our last night in Germany we went to downtown Dortmund and watched Germany's first game in the world cup which was quite an experience! Great party and a perfect end to a spectacular trip!
Prost! :drink:


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:12 am 
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Alpine Slogger
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:01 am
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Location: Too far from a summit
Looks like a fantastic trip! I really need to get back to the Alps sometime...


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:33 am 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Location: Seattle
Looks like you guys got to do a little of everything. What a fun sounding trip. My favorite photo is Frank blending in.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:36 am 
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Longshanks
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:drink:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:50 am 
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Frodo
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Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:49 pm
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Location: The Shire
Sarah, this is awesome


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:49 pm 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Location: Bashing Brush
I can't believe you came back! :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:00 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:34 am
Posts: 324
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Yeah, me either, Brian. :) We almost missed our train/flight and then could have stayed longer!!!! I'm excited to go back (but might have to wait long enough to forget how long the flight seemed).
Jim, the picture of Frank blending in is my favorite too. The car is actually his dad's though, so he and the car are just camouflaged with the house.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:56 pm 
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The Shepherd
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Location: Ravenna
The long flight should just encourage you to stay for a long time :) Looks like an awesome trip.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:17 pm 
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The Pub Czar
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:38 am
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Location: too far from a pint.

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