Ever wondered what those numbers and letters beside the route names mean? Climbing grades are a mysterious dark art for most, only the craggy hardest rock jock spends their evenings in the pub discussing these runes. The scale progresses upwards; the higher the number, the harder the problem. Letters ‘a’ ‘b’ ‘c’ and ‘+’ can be added to discern difficulty, i.e. 7c+. With all the choice on offer in Tirol it can be hard to pick where to start rock climbing—so we asked a jury of expert climbers to select five of the best sport climbing routes across the country: Here are their “Great Lines”.
1. The Mother of All Routes
“Number One”, Schleier Waterfall, 7b
In the late 1980ies, exceptional German climber Alexander Huber led an impressive climb at Schleier Waterfall in Wilder Kaiser Mountain Range. He became the first to climb a grade 11+ route and started a new revolution in climbing. Over 200 climbing routes line the south-facing limestone formations next to the waterfall, among them cliff “Number One”, which is graded 7b. Endurance is the name of the game on this route right from its beginning. It starts with two tricky sections, hard moves up with strenuous clips that demand flawlessly efficient technique and footwork. The final section of the climb is particularly challenging with small crimps. It’s a sure bet your forearms will feel like exploding.
2. A True Miracle
“Le Miracle”, Niederthai Climbing Area, 7b
An immense piece of granite surrounded by old-growth larch forest is a spot to answer the dreams of diehard climbers. At this sheer granite face, which is located in Niederthai in Ötztal Valley, there’s no shortage of opportunities to turn those dreams into reality. If you look closely, you will recognize an impressive crack breaking up the steep face of the enigmatic rock in its entirety. Quite wondrous indeed. This might explain why Matthias Burtscher, who put up this challenging route, aptly named it “Le Miracle”.
„The ‘wonder’ demands flawlessly efficient technique and requires endurance and experience — and guts don’t hurt either!“
3. In the Realm of the Dolomites
“Another Play in Paradise”, Dolomiten Hut Climbing Area, 7c
Situated at the heart of the glorious Lienz Dolomites, the south-facing, perpendicular walls right below Dolomiten Hut hold 129 climbing lines. Try not to let the stunning views of jagged Dolomites Peaks distract you from the sustained climbing, especially on the lower headwall. Rest efficiently, and then summon power between stances, as “Another Play in Paradise” is technical at the top with some crux moves. The climb has plenty of bolts, though.
„Try not to let the stunning views distract you from the sustained climbing!“
4. Climbing with a View
“Puls 2000”, Chinese Wall, 7c+
You don’t have to travel to China to find this Chinese Wall—it’s the local crag in Leutasch near Seefeld in Tirol. Its limestone has 176 routes in 11 areas and there are enough high quality 6s & up to keep climbers busy for weeks. “Puls 2000” in the area named “Dodlwand” is the classic here. It’s a steep, pocket-pulling testpiece with underclings, pinches, and ribs that requires some perseverance and will test your endurance. The rewards for the efforts are fabulous views from the top. Take your time, breathe, relax, focus—and scan the horizon.
5. A Natural Phenomenon
“Weißer Riese” (“White Giant”), Noesslach Climbing Area, 6b
A prominent ivory streak of rock makes this place somewhere in Ötztal Valley instantly stand out. This natural phenomenon, a puzzling streak of blank white stone amidst the otherwise grey granite wall, marks what is probably the most beautiful of the 55 routes in the Noesslach Climbing Area. With plenty of crimps, cracks, ledges and ribs, this Ötztal classic forces almost nonstop hand jams and good climbing technique. Although in the comparably low 6b range, this climb is special because of its concentration. A lot of skill for climbing the “White Giant” is thinking creatively and staying focused till you clip the chains.