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Ortner, Lama Establish New Route in Austria’s Lienzer Dolomites

The north face of Laserzwand, Lienzer Dolomites, Austria showing Spindrift. Peter Ornter and David Lama established the new line up the middle of the face on December 27. [Photo] David Lama

On December 27, David Lama and Peter Ortner made the first ascent of Spindrift (VI: VIII- A1 M6 WI), a difficult 600m route on the north face of Laserz in the Lienzer Dolomites of Austria. The first two pitches climbed a snow-covered slab with poor protection that led the climbers into an overhanging crack system filled with loose rock. Once past the insecure rock, the duo climbed another large slab with a thin layer of ice, eventually leading to a snowfield. These four pitches were the crux section of Spindrift. From the snowfield, the route climbs six long pitches of ice in a narrow gully, where the climbers encountered the worst spindrift they had ever experienced, to another snowfield and finishes the route with a pitch of mixed climbing.

Peter Ortner leading a mixed section with thin ice. [Photo] David Lama

“Last year we had to retreat because we didn’t bring enough gear for Pitch 4, which is probably the hardest pitch of the whole climb.” Lama said. On their second attempt, the duo carried two sets of camming devices and successfully completed the route.

The two climbers have frequented the area over the last couple of years. The rock faces in the Lienzer Dolomites offer many multipitch opportunities and are busy in the summer time. However, in the winter, “you will definitely be alone.” Lama said. In the spring, summer and fall Spindrift is wet and seeping but, “in [the] winter it gets some ice and forms a great line, which you can see from the valley.” he added.

David Lama at the top of the overhanging crux pitch. Lama reports that the rock was loose and unstable. [Photo] Peter Ortner

Lama and Ortner have had a successful climbing carrier together. They established a new route on Loska Stena and made a success ascent of Eternal Flame on Trango Tower. Last year, they famously roped up to complete the first free ascent of Cerro Torre’s Compressor Route. This season, Lama says he hopes to climb on the Fitz Roy side of the valley as much as possible, but the Patagonian winds will decide what they do. For the last five seasons, Ortner has traveled to Patagonia, this year he is staying home to continue his work in the Dolomites. Recently, he added a new, 600m mixed line to the northwest wall of Keilspitze. Ortner says his next project is a “new, free-solo climb on a 1000m wall,” somewhere in the same area.

Sources: David Lama, Peter Ortner,