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2003, September, Large  Fluorite, Gipfelkluft, Weisseck, Lungau, Austria


The surprising Summer 2003 ascent of the Weisseck to the Summit Cleft (see Report….) in which I and my friend Walter discovered excellent green fluorite prompted an unintended consequence. I decided to sacrifice time in September that was to have been used for construction work on my house and instead let the “call of the wild,” or more precisely “fluorite fever”  seduce me to return a few more times  to Weisseck before the snows began.   Walter could not join me on the next tour, but gave his blessings. So at the start of  September I climbed very early from the Sticklerhütte via the Riedingscharte to the Weisseck Mountain. When I got to the cleft, I put on my rain pants and rain jacket in front of the entrance to the cavity. There were also knee pads, a hood and a headlamp. So I was well equipped for the narrow, clayey, damp crawlspaces. I took newspaper and chisels with me in cloth bags. The backpack remained outside. I climbed the small rock face to reach the Summit Cleft via the almost circular entrance.

2. Eingang Gipfelkluft (1).JPG

The original entrance to the large Summit Cleft, approx. 50 meters below the summit cross Summit cleft

I explored the Summit Cleft very carefully from the start and examined every corner at my leisure - I had enough time and wanted to explore everything. When I finally reached the large cavity (also known as the third cavern) after a long time, I started looking for fluorites there. There were fragments of fluorite scattered everywhere, left behind by other collectors. I put the pieces I liked in a pile. I soon realized that by digging deeper I could find additional, better layers of fluorite. So I started to dig a large, circular hole so that would give me enough space to maneuver.

At this point in time, fluorite was still found in some areas of the Summit Cleft

The recovery of the grown fluorites was very difficult and many fluorites could not be recovered

The large Cavity from the Summit Cleft, dark pieces of fluorite can be seen on the floor

I had already dug almost one meter into the ground when I saw fluorite crystals beneath a larger boulder. I carefully began to uncover the crystals. The area with the fluorite crystals kept getting bigger and seemed to never end. Twice I covered the crystals with newspaper and a jacket of mine to protect them from damage when I had to enlarge the hole to expose the fluorite. After a lot of patient work, I freed a fluorite step that was almost half a meter in size from the rubble and could now be moved. This operation took time as considerable debris had to be removed from where the large fluorite step was located so as not to damage this great piece. Finally I was ready. Not without difficulty I managed to lift this approximately 50 kg fluorite out of the hole I had dug. With beads of sweat on my forehead, I sat next to this beauty and admired all the details I could see beneath the fissure clay. After a while, I put the piece aside and went back into the hole to look for more fluorites. With that large specimen lifted out, additional fluorite surfaces were seen poking out of the rubble. I began to recover the next big fluorite. After about half an hour I recovered this too. It wasn't quite as big as the first one, but was just as beautiful and weighed around 30 kilos. I admired the newly recovered piece again. It was clear to me that I couldn't carry both pieces into the valley today. I decided to hide the smaller fluorite and carry the larger piece home. I put the smaller piece back into the hole I dug. I covered them with newspapers and some old wet foam material that was lying in the cavity. Then I covered the piece with rubble and vowed to retrieve it the next day.

Full plan (2003) of the Summit Cleft. One more cavern had not as yet been discovered  (next to cavern B).

At this time, the cavern at entrance M1 was completely filled with rubble.

Now I began to prepare the large fluorite specimen for transport. I covered the piece with all the newspapers I had with me and wrapped them in the two jackets that I had worn. Wearing only my T-shirt, I carefully began to lift the specimen meter by meter to the exit. This alone was a time-consuming and strenuous work. The steep 7 meter high rock face from the cleft entrance to the ledge where the backpack stood was a tricky passage. On the one hand, I had to ensure my own good footing, and on the other hand, I had to lift the fluorite carefully to avoid damage. Lurking constantly was the great danger of losing my grip on the heavy fluorite or falling with it into the depths. Finally I I managed to reach the ledge. Now began the challenge of packing it into my backpack. Had I not brought my largest backpack I’d be in big trouble as it required several attempts to fit it in and then pad the sensitive areas to protect the fluorite and my back.

WE 3-1, 43 x 33 x 23 cm(1).jpg

The large fluorite specimen, partially covered with a 2nd generation, 45 x 35 x 25 cm

Carrying such heavy weight made the 50 altitude-meter climb up to the summit cross pure torture.  It took forever to get to the top followed by a necessary long break at the summit. Then the descent from Weisseck began. After about 200 meters I took a short break. Then I continued along the path and soon took another break. This seemed to me the best method to bring the heavy backpack into the valley. From the summit to the Sticklerhütte it is at least 1000 meters in altitude. During breaks, I looked for places where I could carefully place the backpack onto a ledge to take the strain off my back and facilitated lifting it when leaving. I made reasonably good progress up to the Riedingscharte which was about half  way to the Sticklerhütte. But then my strength weakened. The descent to the Sticklerhütte was a painful journey, with many breaks. The route from the Sticklerhütte to the Muritzen car park usually takes 40 minutes; now this stretch took over 2 hours. Completely exhausted, I reached my car in the dark. I don't think I've ever been as happy about a car as I was at that moment. During the drive home, the joy of my extraordinary find gradually returned. At home I celebrated this day with a hearty snack and then went straight to bed because I wanted to go up to Weisseck again the next day.

As could be expected, such exertions gave noticeable effects the next day. I could barely get out of bed so early and the subsequent climb proved arduous. Things gradually improved and as I had no other plans that to retrieve that other wonderful fluorite, I treated myself to pauses and a nice break at the entrance to the Summit Cleft. Then without any problems I crawled into the Summit Cleft,  retrieved the hidden fluorite, packed it carefully, descended the mountain, and drove home full of joy. I had recovered two exceptional fluorite specimens and could now rest.

The second recovered fluorite with excellent translucency color, 32 x 20 x 13.5 cm

During further ascents to the Summit Cleft I was able to find some beautiful, mainly large fluorite specimens. All of the pieces shown and described here come from the third cavern in the Summit Cleft.

The so-called third cavern is the largest chamber in the Summit Cleft. This is where most, and also the largest, fluorites were found. The ceiling of the chamber was originally crystallized with large fluorite crystals. In exceptional cases the edge length of the crystals could reach over 10 cm. The crystal surfaces of these large fluorites show an intensive parquet structure and the edges are often stepped. Individual pieces are additionally set with a 2nd generation of smaller fluorites. Many of the fluorites had long since fallen from the ceiling and lay on the bottom among the rubble and clay. Underneath the fallen fluorites were several layers of limestone that were crystallized with sharp-edged fluorite cubes up to an edge length of about 3 cm. Most of these specimens were completely covered with calcite. It was only when the calcite was removed that some of the pieces revealed their true beauty. The lowest layer of the soil was interspersed with dolomite and limestone, partly solid and hard, partly sandy and soft. Small, sharp-edged fluorites were also found in this area, but they were unstable due to frost and water and broke during attempts to salvage them. Fluorite was present in large quantities in the rear right area of the 3rd cavern. The large fluorite specimen, which consists of solid fluorite and is crystallized on both sides, comes from this spot. Rock crystals were also found in the third cavern. Primarily as small needle quartz in combination with fluorite and dolomite. Most of these pieces were also destroyed by the frost. Other quartz crystals reached a length of over 10 cm. The crystals were mostly light gray and not beautifully formed. Larger quartz crystals from the Summit Cleft in good quality have only been found sporadically and are a rarity.

WE 3-3, 27 x 16 x 12 cm(1).jpg

Fluorite on matrix with a second generation of reddish fluorites, 27 x 16 x 12 cm

WE 3-5, 18 x 12 x 12 cm(1).jpg

Fluorite with calcite on matrix, 18 x 12 x 12 cm

WE 3-6, 23 x 18.5 x 10.3 cm(1).jpg

Fluorite with calcite, 23 x 18.5 x 10.3 cm

WE 3-4, 24.5 x 21 x 10.5 cm(1).jpg

Fluorite with a second generation and violet translucency, 24.5 x 21 x 10.5 cm

WE 3-7, 24.5 x 18.8 x 10.5 cm(1).jpg

Fluorite with violet and blue-green translucent color 24.5 x 18.8 x 10.5 cm

WE 3-8, 15.5 x 12.5 x 4.8 cm(1).jpg

The fluorite shows bright green, blue and violet hues with backlight, 15.5 x 12.5 x 4.8 cm

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