The Gesäuse has been a destination for alpine mountaineers for around 200 years. At first it was the monks from Admont Monastery, shepherds and hunters who scaled the peaks of the Ennstal Alps. Acting as guides, they soon attracted tourists including Heinrich Hess, a pioneering alpinist who conquered the Kleiner Buchstein, the Planspitze and the passage on the Peternpfad. Around 1900 the Ödsteinkante was "one of the greatest challenges in the Eastern Alps": on 28 August 1910 the first "Dolomite specialists", A. Dibona, L. Rizzi, G. and M. Mayer, finally succeeded in making the first ascent.
After the first climbing tourists, guided by local hunters, came the "guideless" alpinists, bringing the Vienna school of mountaineering to the Gesäuse. They established innumerable classic climbs that remain alpine standards to this day, including the Rosskuppe ridge, the north face of the Dachl, the north and northeast face of the Peternscharte ...
After the technically wild 1960s, which saw new climbs including the Berglandriss and the Hermann Buhl Memorial Trail, the modern alpine style of climbing also reached the Gesäuse. Continuing the tradition of the early pioneers, a whole series of new freestyle ascents were established, although at greater levels of difficulty.
Over the past few years, a coordinated effort has been made to renovate the most popular trails and ascents in the Gesäuse. Significant attention has been paid to preserving the original nature of the routes as well as retaining their sense of adventure. Many routes provide only well-established belay stations, and climbers usually need to attach their own intermediate belays. This form of renovation was deliberately chosen to avoid giving the impression that the rock faces and ascents are like those of a climbing garden – indeed, their length and difficulty should not be underestimated. Despite being renovated, many climbs in the region still require the alpine skill of route finding, and a significant degree of individual responsibility.
The Gesäuse National Park has also contributed to the second edition of the Xeis-Auslese climbing guide. Access to the rock faces have been considered from a nature conservancy standpoint, and the most ecologically sensible approaches marked on the maps. As a result, it should be easy to find the start of the routes, thereby helping both climbers and the natural environment.
The foreword, which also examines prospective first ascents, can be downloaded here.
You can order the second edition of the climbing guide here.
Recommended starting points for ascents: