A diary of a week in the Stubai in late August 2015 with Daniel and Jamie. See-also: 2014, which is a far more "pictured" diary of almost the whole valley. This one is rather more terse. Day-links are to the GPS tracks.
Friday 21st: Having packed, caught the train to Gatwick, the plane to Innsbruck, the bus in to the Hauptbahnhof and the bus up to Neustift we called a taxi to get us up to Oberissalm, the road head for the Franz Senn hut. Thank's to D's steaming pace we're up in one hour (book time 1.5) in time for dinner. They're crowded (we're in the FS because the Sulzenau was full) but we get served promptly. We're in box 10 in the loft; pack our sacks for the morning, set the alarm for 6:20, DJ to bed and I sit up over Anthem with a red wine.
Saturday 22nd (Lisenser Ferner Kogel): An implausible amount of early getting-ready noises woke me earlier, but I slept well. Alarm 6:20, we three up and down to breakfast; I indulge DJ (and hence myself) in the buffer. Wx: sunny, near cloudless. Good for the climb, bad for hut fullness, its already bursting. Set off 7:25 for the Lisenser Ferner Kogel (see post from 2012, unfinished) with several groups ahead, who we overtake, though one gets us back when we rest at the bench. 2h to the Rinnenneider col. From there a surprise, the whole glacier is "dry" - snowless. Down to the glacier edge - further than usual due to lack of snow - and DJ put on crampons (I'd bought a second pair in Keswick but not a third, arguing that anything D or J could do with crampons I could do without, which wasn't quite true but worked out well enough, despite a small amount of blood on the ice). There's a group ahead of us, which is unusual - the twice I've been here before I've been completely alone in the whole basin - but as we cross and then trend up to the Plattigewand it becomes clear they're off to the Lisenser Spitze instead. The Wand is snowless so de-crampon, and so is the top, so there's a slowish rocky section, followed by the glacier to the col and finally snow. Thence scramble up the last 100 m of rocks to the summit. We carried the rope, just in case, but DJ are clearly happy without it. Back to the col, they rest, I zoom up the Rotgratspitze for old time's sake, but its not at all as I remember. Back at the hut by 5 (DJ ten minutes ahead of me) 9:45 total. Sit outside and persuade them to get me a Radler and something for themselves. Tonight's beds end happily: they're still full, so we're in the skiraum, but that's fine. DJ play "slam", D going 5 apricots down to J; I read. They're out of Apfelstrudel so Kaiserschmarren.
Sunday 23rd (Ruderhofspitze): Skiraum was fine, in some ways its more convenient since we're just next to the boot room. About 12 people in there in all. B'fast buffet against, whilst outside a glorious sunrise. Set off at 7:20, 5 mins improvement on yesterday, except I forget my phone so actually just the same as yesterday. Summary: 5h to the peak; 6h back at the col; me back at the hut in 9:30, DJ 20 mins less. Compare 2014, when there was more snow so the glacier was easier. Easily and pleasantly up the valley, then we get to the old / new path choice. Pick the new, since I'm not totally sure the old moraine path can still be used, especially to get onto the glacier; must try it some day. Up by the really very large and impressive waterfall - like so many other things here, it would be the wonder of England were it in England, but here's its just "oh, another massive waterfall" - and we're on the silt plain in front of the very dry glacier; there's no path up onto it despite my feeling there really ought to be one; or perhaps we're supposed to go on the rocks? But never mind, we can force a way. The snout is heavily ablated, caved in, and rock / stone / gravel covered; its a bit tricky sans crampons but I cope. Before the steepening - which is bare ice - we duck off right onto to the rocks, which is again trackless and much slower than a snowy glacier would have been. One little climb is perhaps slightly more exciting than desired - you don't really want to do Diff in these circumstances - but its brief; and after more circumlocutions and ancillary glaciers we're above the steepening and set off again, and fairly soon the snow starts. Wx is holding - a few clouds - and I'm in the lead initially as I abandoned DJ to put their crampons on. See a party of three descending, but they swing wide to avoid the crevasse zone from the Westliche Seespitze which I realise I was supposed to do, when I look at the map back in the hut; but I'm enjoying my "I know where I am" thing so I'm not looking at it now. The zone is safe, though I need to zig-zag a little; later, we pick up their track. DJ explore a crevasse, then we're at the col. This time there are glorious views across to the Dresdener and down a wilderness of rock and scree to the D-NR path. Embark up the ridge, which as last year looks enormous from here; views this time to my fail of last year, or where it would have come out, I think. DJ cope perfectly well and soon we're at the top: Berg Heil! Stop at the top for 20 mins to take pics, sign the book, and fall asleep; then head down. Rest at the col and finish off lunch (breakfast buffet allows you to make sandwiches for lunch!). Down, letting DJ leap ahead. Above the steepening take a bit more care exactly where we're going on the rock and do it better. Back on the ice for the descent to the snout via views of various increasingly large sinkholes; we're all cramponless now. Back to the silt plain, en up leaping some of the streams, and thence to the hut. They're resting outside when I turn up, and D buys me a Grosses Radler again. A second long day. To bed early, before 9; in the dorms again, since the hut is not full on Sunday evening.
Update: I realise, when writing this up, that I missed a trick: its possible to descend from the Ruderhofspitze to the Neuregensburger. Either by tracing the ascent route I failed on last year (somewhat dodgy, as I've never done it) or by crossing the Hochmoosscharte between the R and the Westlicheseespitze. Which I haven't done either. So, even if I'd thought of that, we probably wouldn't have (we'd have had to carry all our kit, too). But it would have been worth a think. And would be cool to do!
Monday 24th: We want to get to the Sulzenauhutte. As it much later transpires, the best thing to do would have been to cross to the Neuregensburger, then go into the valley and out again to the S, taking two days; those would have been our mid-trip rest. However, that would have taken up our last spare day so instead we're going back to the Oberissalm, taxi to Neustuft, bus up valley, and walk up to S. Or so I'd planned. Wake 6:20 for the practice, preceded by comedy of the Russian guy who couldn't turn his clock-radio off; have kleines fruhstuck because we can eat lunch in the valley; D repairs his heel which had rubbed somewhat yesterday, possibly because it had got wet in the stream under the crevasse, and off. Wx is grey, but the peaks are clear, so that'll do; tomorrow's forecast is rain. We get down quite quickly, DJ leading. I call a taxi but he can't make it for half an hour... or an hour... or maybe two. I say I'll call back and we go to the Alm cafe. DJ realise that they've both left their towels, and J has left a base layer, so D is dispatched back to get them (after first being allowed a drink), and given about an hour and a half; this seems to fit, I'll call the taxi when he's back. D does come back in time, J and I sit in the sunshine in the cafe in the interim, its a hard life. We miss the "real taxi" which had brought someone up; but the "Alm taxi" is there so take that. Half way down the driver casually asks if I'd rather go straight to the S start; and without thinking much I say yes; we'll miss lunch in town but meh. It turns out moderately expensive - E85 - but never mind. Its now sunny so up we head, DJ in the lead, and I'll stop saying that because they always were. We meet up at the half way Alm and have bier and Fanta, and I re-admire the old carvings. After a nice rest on to the top in less than an hour, with views back through rainbow as there is a fine rain. The rebuilding is done (entrance way reshaped and the common room gains an extra room), but the inside is not yet quite back the the "gemütlich" it once was. Lunch: Tiroler Grostl for DJ, wurst-n-brot for me. Shower, E2, via token; the shower room is rebuilt and much better. Afternoon: read, cards, stare at weather which is clear and windy but clouds at 2800 m. Dinner: two knudeln for me again, but the Sulzenau style is different. Pudding: GermKnudlen, which we find a challenge. Talk: Ladakh, the not-summit day, and should they have tried anyway? But the risk of avalanches. And discuss the rapid evacuation when people got sick. Knock-out whist from 17: D wins.
[TO BE CONTINUED]