Marmot team in Zillertal and van disaster. Part 1!
Having spent the winter being an access worker, going out to Austria and feeling like a climber again was a real treat. Also a shock for me on the climbing front but more about that later.
These ‘Marmot Rocks’ athlete trips are becoming a regular annual event but I missed last year’s in the Frankenjura due to the fact I was in hospital having my shoulder operated on. So nearly a year to the day, having being fairly hesitant about going, I found myself in the beautiful Zillertal valley above Mayrhofen. Home for two weeks.
I felt hesitant because due to work and not the best winter ever, I hadn’t been able to climb much and was feeling out of shape. And to go on a trip like this with lots of world-class climbers and be climbing f6c’s, might not have looked too good! But having expressed my worries to Germany HQ, I was encouraged to come anyway; “After all,” they said, “we know you aren’t machines, we don’t expect you to be climbing hard all the time”. I was encouraged by this attitude and needed a break from work, so I decided that it would be a good opportunity to hang out with nice people, explore a new area and hopefully find some sun!
Well, I left England at the start of a heat wave and got to Austria in torrential rain which resulted in Southern Germany, Austria and Western Czech experiencing some of their worst flooding ever- hmmm, had I made the right decision?!
With regards to travelling out there, I ended up going in the van. In the last few years, I seem to have developed a quite real fear of flying. And after taking four flights in four weeks last October to Spain, I told myself that if I could get somewhere by other means without too much hassle, I would. Apparently it’s better for the environment too. After lots of research, I found a fantastic overnight train journey from St.Pancras to Munich (where Ste Mac, Tim and Neil Mawson could’ve picked me up after their flight) and was really looking forward to this outing. But I was disappointed to find that all the tickets had sold out. It seems like this is a very popular route and you need to book well in advance, which I noted for the future. So having got my heart set on not flying, the only other option was to drive. Now the Marmot Rocks Zillertal was a three day event (Sunday to Wednesday 2-5 June) but Ste, Neil, Tim and I had decided to stay an extra few days to make it a week. It was going to be a hell of a drive (nearly two thousand miles return) and for a week that’s pushing it but never one to shy away from a challenge I decided to go for it. Also, I would be on my own because Tim and those guys already had their flights booked but Tim was chuffed because I could cart over all his clobber! I planned to leave Sheffield on Saturday morning and return a week the following Monday, to maximise time out there…but things didn’t quite go to plan. The trip out was fine, I stopped overnight in Ettringen, which I knew was safe and familiar and conveniently it was on the way and the journey was good. Although the further South I drove through Germany the worse the weather got until I could barely see through the windscreen on the Autobahns, due to the sheer volume of water falling out of the sky. What I found very interesting was observing the driving skills in the countries I drove through. I am quite a big fan of driving; I like doing it and do a lot of it (due to the fact that Tim doesn’t drive). And driving up and down to Leeds on the M1 for the last six months has been both fascinating and frustrating. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not the most patient driver and when I see people doing stupid things or generally being completely unaware of how they are affecting the flow of traffic on a very busy motorway, it does make me mad. What seemed to be the case in my amateurish observations was that on the continent drivers are more confident and pushy. Possibly less cautious but more observant. This results in much faster speeds (even when there are speed restrictions) and less annoying moments for me on the roads. What was shocking was when the rain was very bad on a three laner, the minimum speed people were travelling was 80mph! I’d be lucky to do this speed in good conditions in the UK! It was quite scary to be travelling this quick with the visibility so bad but it also felt ok, as you knew people were not being blasé about it and were trying to be safe. It felt very different from driving in the UK.
My return journey didn’t go quite as planned, in fact it was a bit of a disaster. But there has to be an upside and there was; it meant I spent an extra week in the Zillertal in glorious sunshine sampling the fantastic bouldering in the woods. I was planning to leave on Sunday (9th June) and on Friday (7th) decided to have a rest day and buy some food in Mayrhofen: we were staying in the small picturesque village of Ginzling with one shop that opens 7-10am and doesn’t sell much, I needed vegetables! So, as I was manoeuvring out of my very tight parking spot, something happened to the steering and I could barely turn the wheel. Oh dear. It transpired after I’d managed to limp down to Mayrhofen and stopped at the first garage, that my power steering pump was kaput! They tried to do a fix but it needed the new part, so it was just my luck it was the weekend, so it looked like I was stuck. It’s never nice when unexpected things like that happen and I was gutted. But I just had to wait. They said they’d be able to get the part on Monday and as it wasn’t a massive job, there was a chance that it could be done by Monday afternoon. I thought to myself that’s not too bad, only a day late. Well, it didn’t quite work out like that and I had that horrible feeling of being expectant everyday and then being let down and disappointed. I was dealing with the garage though my breakdown people, so never really found out what was going on, they were very bad at communicating with me and it was a frustrating week. Eventually, I got my van back a week later on the Friday (14th) morning and girded myself for the massive drive home- at least I could see through the windscreen this time!
So, to the climbing…Part 2 to follow soon.
Sampling the awesome bouldering in the Zillertal Valley, a funky 6b+.