For the last couple of days I’ve been guiding on Via Ferratas above Otztal, and yesterday we headed for the Vorarlberg region in western Austria. Our destination was an area called Brand with its famous Lunersee Lake, where one of the most difficult Via Ferratas in the whole of Europe has been equipped above the tram station. Although only 80 metres high, it’s extremely difficult and requires downclimbing to get back to the starting-point.
Together with Steve and Matt we drove past Innsbruck, Bregenz and Brand before reaching the bottom tram station near the magnificent Lunersee Lake. We parked our van and headed for the wet crag behind the tram station, where both alternative starts to the Via Ferrata are clearly marked. We reached the crag in five minutes, and the Via Ferrata didn’t seem to be too difficult when viewed from the ground. Since the left-hand start appeared to be drier, we decided to begin our climb there.
After the initial, slightly easier part (grade C, 40 metres), the first overhang soon followed (D/E, 20 m). Shortly afterwards there was another one, which was much bigger and more difficult (E, 5 m). At the top the steel cable lead us down along the left-hand variant of the route, which proved to be very wet. The first, steep part was followed by overhangs and the E grade lived up to its name (extreme).
The second part of our descent was luckily less demanding.Once back on the ground, I could really feel my arms burning, but they weren’t nearly as bad as Matt's, who had never climbed such a steep Via Ferrata before. Both routes are very difficult and anyone who is after the most extreme routes of this kind that the Alps have to offer should consider climbing them.