• Torsäule
  • 2588 m
  • Primary factor 132 m
  • Location: Austria, along the normal route to Hochkönig.
  • Location: North 47:25.728, East 013:06.280 (GPS at the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 3
  • Climbed August 12. 2005.


How to get there: See the description under Hochkönig. From the trailhead for Hochkönig, follow the normal trail to this mountain until you reach the south face of Torsäule, the trail arrives at a big boulder where arrows indicate the start of the route going sharply up and right. The location of this junction is at elevation 2290 meter, N47:25.654, E013:06.446.
Route description: From the start of the trail as described above, proceed up to your right along a climbers trail that is quite visible. Proceed until you almost reach the main ridge, then turn more left as you gain more elevation along what is the only obvious route. Higher up, this approach brings you further right on the mountain with vertical cliffs below. As the terrain gets steeper, there are two possible routes, both within a YDS class 3 level. See pictures of how these two alternatives begin below.
The easier of the two enters a deep crack to the climbers left. Climb a step inside this crack in order to continue up a distinct, deep gully that turns 90 degrees uphill relative to the initial crack. This climbing is easy and without any form of exposure.
The alternative, possibly more enjoyable route, proceeds directly uphill as you climb a broader gully that turns more narrow higher up. The climbing is a bit steeper and more sustained, but with very good holds and steps. This gully tops out on a small shoulder with the shear rockface falling off on your right and with a vertical cliff also blocking further progress in the same direction as the gully you just climbed. Turn 90 degrees left and climb the moderate slope in order to gain more level terrain higher up. This route will merge back with the first alternative at this point. This last section is easy, but you climb with a large drop behind you.
From here on, the remaining climb is an easy, but enjoyable walk. Quite surprising you arrive at a big hole in the ground. A closer inspection reveals a natural tunnel sloping down to your left (south). One can look down through it and see some of the terrain below the mountain. There is actually a known climbing route that reaches this tunnel from the downside and finishes the ascent by climbing up through the tunnel! Bypass this hole on the right and continue to the summit cross.
Comments: I did this climb with my son Pål Jørgen, age 16. Our objective was to climb the Hochkönig, however, the nicest and most impressive mountain along the way was Torsäule. Immediately upon seeing it higher up in the basin, a photo stop was required. It stands in solitary splendure as an obelisk, proud and undisturbed in the middle of this large basin. A large and complicated semicircle of peaks and ridges forms the backdrop. One can only imagine how ice and water slowly have eroded the limestone, carving out this big basin, while creating Torsäule in the process. A piece of rock that would not yield to nature.
The idea of climbing it never occured to me as we continued under its south face observing some climbers preparing for what looked like a very high degree technical ascent. However, when we descended from Hochkönig and passed under the steep face on our way down, the beginning of the climbers trail became more visible. Two climbers were descending having completed their climb. I asked how difficult this "descent route" was and to my surprise they replied that it was really quite doable without any technical gear. Thus, it became irresistable to give it a try.
We headed up at 1245, reached the summit (300 meter vertical gain) at 1315, spent 10 minutes at the top, then descended in 20 minutes, thus returning to the main trail at 1345.
Anybody doing the hike to Hochkönig that is comfortable with a YDS class 3 route, should consider also doing this route. The peak has a fantastic shape and its summit is indeed a very nice experience.