Down Memory Lane

In 1964, fifty years ago, was a young student at the Free University of Amsterdam. With two friends I went to Austria during our summer holidays. Both also named Jan, so in the following pictures you will see Jan St (me) , Jan V and Jan Str. Camping in Tirol, hiking in the mountains. On one of these hikes we met Robert, a friendly German and an experienced mountaineer, who took us to the summit of the Wilder Freiger, 3418 m. It was a fascinating experience.

We were hooked and wanted to become mountaineers ourselves!


Wilder Freiger

We became members of the Austrian Alpine Club and the next year we followed a training course at the (in those days) famous Kaunergratschule. Here we got a thorough instruction in the handling of rope, ice axe and crampons, how to rescue somebody who had fallen in a glacier crevasse, we learned how to rappel down steep rock faces, to brake our fall on the snow and much more.

The course took two weeks, a balanced mix of theory and practice. As a part of the program we climbed several of the majestic mountains around the hut. Most impressive was the Watze Spitze with its hanging glacier.

After the training program, we felt confident enough to make our own alpine tours. We stayed in the same alpine region, but hiked to another hut, from where we climbed a few beautiful mountains, culminating in the Wildspitze, the second-highest mountain of Austria at 3770 m.

Here are more pictures, taken during these holidays. Most of them still in black and white. I found them in one of my photo albums, it was quite fun to reconstruct this part of my past, as I had forgotten most of the details. The last picture is a scan of the trip diary I kept during our stay. With information about weather and snow conditions, information about the route chosen, the difficulty (I – VI, I = easy, III= difficult)

To keep my family informed, I sent them postcards regularly. Later they had given back these postcards to me and I had put them in my album. Had completely forgotten that I had written on the backside of these cards. It is in Dutch, it gives a nice “travelogue” of our holidays.

A nice trip down memory lane!

4 thoughts on “Down Memory Lane

  1. Down Memory Lane for sure Jan, I was a member of the AAC at the same time as yourself, and looking at your pictures, it looks like we were following each other about.
    About the same time you did the Wild SP. we also did it we started from the Breslaner Hutte, at sparrows fart (2.00am) headed up Otztalar Urkund to the summit then followed the Glacier to to Braunseltweiger Hutte I think it was one of the longest day I ever did in the mountains worse still we were still out on the Glacier after mid day and the snow had melted which made it even harder.
    Did you ever climb the Similaun, that could be interesting if you wanted to go to the Bella Vista Hutte in Italy, if the Border guards did not want you to cross the border they would fire a few rifle rounds to tell you to bugger off, alas on one trip they started a avalanche which we luckily just made it clear of its route.
    If you had been around at the same time a me, my Mountain yodel was Hiiii Lup Lupppp Luppppp, quite distinctive when you have a loud mouth like mine LOL.
    Still Jan happy days. The good thing is I still climb the mountains, but not so strenuous now, as getting ancient. and the knee length breeches and long wolly sox’s have given way to High tech. mountian clothes these days

    • Interesting…:-) No, I never climbed the Similaun. After this training we went back the next years to Tirol. In 1967 during a grade III climb, we had an accident, not fatal, but the emotional impact was considerable, so the next year was my last “real” mountaineering trip.

  2. Sadly for me I lost two friends to climbing accidents one in 1966 on the Eiger ( I was not there) one on the Matterhorn in 1975 due to wind slab breaking away and I was there. He still resides in the Bone yard in Zermatt. I just often wish in some cases we could stay young forever, other times I find maturity an advantage. But I must say I have always like living on the edge. Mind there have been times I took that step over the Edge, but jumped back just in time..LOL

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