In August 2016, Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel established 'The loss of the Demantoid', a new alpine multi-pitch rock climb up the Kristallwand face on Kirchkogel (3280m) in Austria. And they dedicated it to their fallen friend Gerry Fiegl.
The 3280m high Kirchkogel in the Ötztal Alps is not really well known. But if you walk up the higher Gaisberg Valley it's north face catches your attention immediately. Surrounded by a grand glacial landscape the Kristallwand rises dramatically above your head. This steep rock face is mainly loose, chossy rock with just a few obvious lines and a really imposing overhang.
Ever since Hansjörg climbed the first two routes of the wall in 2012 and 2014, he's wanted to go back to find a route to free climb.
"I looked at the left part of the wall, where the rock is perfect. The only thing that had kept me from doing it was that it's pretty close and compact. So opening the route with minimum bolts was the hardest part. My first visit that season was really promising and already after that day I knew that working on the route would be a lot of fun and it was exactly the thing I was searching for." - Hansjörg Auer
After three days opening the line and one day checking the hardest pitches, Hansjörg grabbed the free ascent on August 19, 2016 with pitches up to grade 7c+.
"After what had happened to me and Alex on Nilgiri South (with the loss of our good friend Gerry Fiegl), we thought that ‘The loss of the Demantoid’ is a great name for the route." - Hansjörg Auer
A 'demantoid' is one of the most precious gemstones that exist and the team dedicated this new climb to the memory of Gerry Fiegl.
The Kristallwand was first attempted more than 70 years ago by legendary Austrian alpinist Hermann Buhl. But since then nobody else has attempted it. When Hansjörg went there in 2012 to open the first route, he found Buhl's piton which he'd abseiled from.