Freesteel Blog » Frauenbach canyon near Greifenburg with two spare cavers

Frauenbach canyon near Greifenburg with two spare cavers

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 at 8:26 pm Written by:


Last week I did quick day trip to Greifenburg to take advantage of a weather window and a chance to do the “best canyon in Austria” with a couple of spare cavers who were festering in expo base camp. My tent spot hadn’t been filled since I abandoned it three days earlier, so I left the cavers Frank and Dave to pitch up while I waited for the taxi to carry my glider up the hill. It turned out I’d just missed the 9:30am rush to the bus, so we ended up driving my car up with David’s mountain bike for a pack lunch in the shade of my wing and a lazy start.


And so it was straight off for a fly at 1pm with low cloudbase and strong lift to 2400m. I had my radio tuned to the channel of my german friends. They couldn’t hear a word I said, but I could hear everything from them, which wasn’t very useful as I don’t know any german.

After some time drifting around on the north side, finding that it was all too easy to hit the cloud, I attempted cross the valley and bombed out below Weisensee before striking a spot of weak lift. A less sporty glider might have glided better and got there higher. Anyways, it was a good chance to practice my low save skills. After about 30 minutes I was directly over the campsite and it began to get a whole lot easier.

A voice came over the radio in english from one of the germans. “Julian, if you can hear me now, I suggest you look at the big black cloud over the take-off.”


I decided I better play it safe and get down fast, which took some hefty maneuvering. Wheeee. Many others stayed up flying, and the big black cloud dissipated. Fortunately it was only three o’clock in the afternoon, which gave us just enough time to drive over to Lienz and do the canyon that Tom and I failed to do last May.

David was fascinated by the whirring hydro-electric turbine at the start of the walk up which evidently took all the water that would have flowed into the canyon at the top just below an obvious recent landslip. There were various watery inlets on the way down in the canyon which made the pitches quite wet towards the end.


There was barely a gap enough to make it worth packing the ropes back in the bags. The advertized toboggans and deep blue pools to jump into were for us nothing more than circular trays of grey gravel. How disappointing. The final two-stage pitch was more technical than we had anticipated, with a shagged belay on the far side of the now raging torrent over a 25metre waterfall.


I dropped David and Frank of in town at the best pizza joint in Austria while I parked the car at the campsite and cycled back.


In the morning we hightailed it back to Loser, dropping David out in Bad Mitterndorf with his bike, while Frank drove me to the top of the hill to set up my glider. Two paragliders were scratching around for an hour before I took off during a brief respite in the tailwind, whereupon I descended 800m in less than 6 minutes, scoring 4 m/s down most of the way. (A glider in still air descends at around 1 m/s.)

The flight on the following day wasn’t much better, but at least there were two locals to join me in the carpark. Unfortunately there was also a helicopter buzzing around shifting random bits of avalanche equipment to different points on the hillside for most of the morning.


They both went down. I waited for a paraglider to mark the one thermal of the day, and had a brief flight upwards to 2200m before the inevitable descent down past the corner of the Trisselwand.


We all went for a swim in the Altaussee lake from the private hotel pier.

It was definitely time to go caving.

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