Simon Messner Leaves Innsbruck With Frozen Toes and a Great New Route

Simon Messner and Martin Sieberer risked life and limb — or extremity — for a recent first ascent in Austria.

The duo’s new route on Schrammacher (3,410m) in Valsertal, Tyrol, pierces a line straight up the mountain’s north face. Messner and Sieberer graded the crux pitch VIII on the old UIAA scale, roughly equivalent to 7a+/5.12.

The Schrammacher north face. Photo: Svíčková via Wiki Commons

The Schrammacher north face. Photo: Svickova via Wiki Commons


‘Goodbye, Innsbrooklyn’

The climbers called the roughly 500m route Goodbye Innsbrooklyn in homage to Messner’s upcoming departure from Innsbruck.

Sustained difficulty and adverse temperatures appeared to define the ascent. Climbing the hardest pitches required wearing rock climbing shoes instead of mountaineering boots. The resulting cold almost cost Messner his toes.

“Slowly, slowly my frostbitten toes come back to life. Wearing climbing shoes for a whole day on a north face was definitely not the best idea,” he wrote on Instagram, making comical use of various emojis.

Messner had tried the route several times over the last five years. But impassible snow and ice had shut him down on winter attempts, and rockfall prevented late-season efforts.

With Sierberer beside him, the timing finally fell in his favor on March 24. The duo topped out onto the summit ridge at 4 pm, securing the one-day first ascent.

Messner’s fraught legacy; Innsbruck signoff

If Messner had lost toes to the climb, he would join his famous father in phalange amputation. Reinhold Messner survived Nanga Parbat in 1970, but frostbite claimed seven of his toes. In a tragic turn, Günther Messner, Reinhold’s brother, died during the ascent.

According to Simon, any physical similarities are among the few things he shares with the older Messner.

The young Messner signed off by urging caution to anyone hoping to repeat Goodbye Innsbrooklyn while also engendering stoke.

“A repetition of the route requires the experienced all-around alpinist (snow, ice & brittle rock!) and very good tactics too.

“Good luck to the repeaters and be careful of the loose rocks — stay safe!”