Free Soloist Dies in 40m Fall

Martin Feistl of Austria fell to his death on Saturday while free soloing the south face of the Scharnitzspitze, in the Austrian Tyrol. He was 27 years old.

An experienced free soloist, Feistl was climbing ropeless on the Spitzenstätter-Baldauf route, a 270m line described in detail here.

He lost his footing on a difficult, overhanging section and fell 40m, reported, quoting a police report. “He hit a ledge at the base of the wall, and the force of the impact threw Feistl into a field of old snow, where he slid a further 50 meters until reaching rocky ground,” wrote the outlet.

Other climbers in the area, including a professional rescuer, quickly rappelled down to help, but there was nothing they could do.

Feistl had made a name for himself as a first-rate ice and mixed climber, although he was equally at home on rock. In 2020, he was a candidate for a Piolet d’Or for the first ascent of Stalingrad, a 1,000m ice route in Austria’s Karwendel Massif, with David Bruder.

At 20, he climbed Shivling, in India’s Garhwal Himalaya. Feist was a purist, looking for first ascents of ice routes as they formed, and using non-permanent, traditional protection only.

Last summer, he opened new routes in East Greenland. Over winter, he climbed ice and mixed routes almost non-stop, mainly in the Tyrol.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.