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BETA PHOTO: Austrian Arete Route Photo
The Austrian Arete follows excellent rock up the arete that borders the broad south-east face of Thunderbolt Peak (the south-east face is characterized by the large white dike that diagonals it). The route bears up the sharp arete (hard to discern until you are up on the face itself) over mostly good to excellent 5th class rock. At one point the arete narrows and one proceeds only by straddling the arete and shimmying upward (exposed). At the top of this narrow section there is a small step with a fixed lost arrow at its base for protection. The arete flattens out about 1-2 pitches before the summit area (4th class with some snow).
Approach Thunderbolt by heading towards the centre of the broad South-east Face (note diagonal white dike on face with occasional snowfield). Scramble up 3rd class area to the horizontal snowfield or low angle ledge system that sits just above the glacier proper and along the base of the vertical face--traverse right on this ledge system until you reach the Austrian Arete (narrow arete that begins on the right edge of Thunderbolt's South-east Face). The large, conspicuous white dike that diagonals across the east face more or less terminates at the base of the Austrian Arete. Basically, the route begins when you cannot no longer traverse right. There are a number of variations for the first pitch that ascend just to the left of the base of the sharp arete; they are easier than sticking to the arete proper (all on generally excellent 5th class rock)-- they all converge up higher on the arete just before the straddle pitch. Although not as classic a route as the Swiss Arete in terms of location, the Austrian Arete offers some excellent pitches along with some fairly pedestrian 4th class bits near the top of the route where the Austrian Arete flattens out. The Austrian Arete is actually a great climb-- would rival the Swiss Arete if the arete didn't broaden out before the top-- as it is, the rock is better and the climbing is more entertaining. Descend the Underhill Gully-- (rap and downclimb-- there are fixed pins along the right-side of the gully at each rap station).
A few hexes, 3-4 small to medium friends, stoppers (1 set), slings, axe and crampons for descent-- usual alpine rack for easy 5th class.
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Feb 2, 2007
Thanks Karl. Any chance of a sketch or schematic? Any photos?