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Hut-to-Hut in the Zillertal Alps

Hut-to-Hut in the Zillertal Alps


Postby Wanderlust » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:18 am

Date walked: 19/07/2010

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I like doing a trek in the Alps in the summertime, and this year my chosen destination was the hut-to-hut tour of the Zillertal Alps in Austria (also known as the Berliner Höhenweg).

Starting and finishing in the resort town of Mayrhofen, this trek can be done in just over a week; I had two weeks, so the idea was to do some side-trips and summit excursions with my extra days...well that was the plan...

So, starting from Mayrhofen, the first day was just an uphill slog to the Karl von Edel Hütte. I did get some nice views of the Zillertal valley as I made my way towards the hut, and by the time I reached the hut, I was ready for a cold Bier a good wash and a plate of Bergsteigeressen.

The first day proper of the trek was the hardest day of the whole trip. Had to cross 7 mountain spurs, it is known as the Siebenschneiderweg, and some of the passes have fixed ropes/cables to assist. Was a long day time-wise aswell almost 10 hours from the Edel Hütte to the Kasseler Hütte.

Spent 2 nights at the Kasseler Hütte, on my "free" day I tried (and failed, frustratingly) to climb a nearby peak, the Wollbach Spitze. I trudged up snow-slopes and over the Glacier, got as far as the summit rocks, and whichever way I looked, could not find what looked like a climb-able way up (and had to bear in mind I would have to down-climb on the way back) adding to the fact that I was up there on my own, I decided that safety was the (only) option I had, and made my way back down to the hut.

Continuing the trek, the next stage was quite straight-forward, cross a mountain pass (the Lapen Scharte), then down to the Greizer Hütte. A nice look back along the route I'd covered so far and by 4 o'clock I was in a deck-chair on the terrace supping a cold one.

After 4 days of glorious sunshine, the weather turned. I awoke to rain and thick fog (had intended to stay another night here anyway), so I sat tight, in the hope of some improvement. And at around midday, it brightened up siginificantly enough for me to feel that it was worth venturing out. I did have target in mind, Gigalitz, a summit sitting proudly above the hut at just over 3000 metres above sea-level. I'd been going just over an hour and started to rain, thought about turning back, but the rain eased, so I pressed on. It was a very narrow path, and quite exposed in places up to the summit. Made it to the top, wrote my name in the book, then heard a clap of thunder. Now, atop of the Gigalitz, there is a huge Iron Cross (as is common with many mountain summits in Austria), of course; metal conducts electrical currents, and I could feel a tingling in the hair on my head...Don't mind admitting, I was bricking it. Made my way down that mountain as fast as my legs would carry me, wasn't easy though, the path had become muddy and slippery, and though the lightning had ceased, the rain got heavier. Got back to the hut just after 5, you should have seen the look on the face of theHüttenwirten when I told her where I'd been. Her exact words were "It's good that you did not tell me this before you go there!"

There was no improvement in the weather for the next 2 days, in fact, it got worse, was a lot of snow, and for those 2 days I did not set foot out of the hut, they had one book in English Langauge on their bookshelf, which I read from start to finish - an American novel called "The Tortilla Curtain". More folks did arrive though, it was the weekend and the hut was quite busy. Met 2 guys from Germany, played cards, drank beer. Eventually, we got going, but the path up to the next pass, the Mörchen Scharte, was buried beneath 2 feet of fresh snow...good thing that there was footsteps we could follow. Took a nice photo at the pass of myself and the guys I was walking with at the pass. The walk down to the Berliner Hütte was quite nice, the clouds lifted a bit, and got some great views over the Berliner Spitze and Großer Möseler, particularly from the Schwarzsee, a high alpine lake, where you can see a reflection of the afore-mentioned mountains. Also got some good views from the Berliner Hütte, a rather grandiose building, with all it's timber panelling and chandeliers, and if you're lucky, you can get a room to yourself for about 3 euro more than the price of a dorm bed.

Had another bad weather day here, so I waited, and I knew I would need a good weather day for the next stage.I waited, and I got it. Needed to be too, the next stage crossed the Schönbichler Horn, at 3134 metres, the highest point of the trek. Met 2 lads from Germany on the way up, they were to be good company for me over the next few days, spent many an hour chatting, playing cards and, of course, drinking. Had 2 more bad weather days after crossing the Schönbichler Horn, didn't really matter too much as they were not high-level walks, comparetively. So we just went through it.

There remained 1 more big stage for me to negotiate, on my way , from the Friesenberg Hütte to the Gams Hütte, again, it is the type of stage that demands decent weather, and thankfully, I got it. Had some superb views of the big mountains that I'd passed by along the duration of my trek.

All that remained was a walk down to the valley from the Gams Hütte, then take a bus to Mayrhofen for a post-trek beer and breakfast :)

photos from this trek
Wanderlust
 
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Re: Hut-to-Hut in the Zillertal Alps

Postby mountain coward » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:38 am

Sounds a challenging and interesting trip - but it also sounds like you could have been there forever if you hadn't got those good days when you did - there seem to be many days where you need good weather in order to be safe on those routes! I can imagine your frustration when you had to turn back just short of that summit on the second day. Never mind the iron cross on the thunderstorm summit - whole mountains conduct electricity, especially rocky ones so, even without the cross, you wouldn't have been safe! :o
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Re: Hut-to-Hut in the Zillertal Alps

Postby Merry-walker » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:18 pm

u like a storm don't you??

i liked your pictures :)

did you do the walk completely on your own?
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Re: Hut-to-Hut in the Zillertal Alps

Postby Wanderlust » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:54 pm

Don't mind a storm, just prefer them to occur when I'm safely ensconced in the mountain hut.

Glad you like my pics :)

I did most of the trek on my own, one day I walked with some German Guys that I met at the Greizer Hütte, then a few days with 2 lads from Germany that I met on the trail. Most people were doing the Zillertal Runde in the opposite direction to me (I went clockwise as you look at the map) from Mayrhofen. All of the German guidebooks describe the route anti-clockwise. I was following the Cicerone descriptions, and as a result would see new faces in the huts at the end of each day.
Wanderlust
 
Posts: 179
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Re: Hut-to-Hut in the Zillertal Alps

Postby Casablanca24 » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:37 pm

Dear Wanderlust,

I'm thinking of doing a shorter and easier version of this "Berliner Trail" in the summer - clockwise like you from Kasseler Hut to Friesenberg Hut, but using the post-bus from and back to Mayrhofen - therefore dropping the toughest sections (as I undertstand it) from Edel Hut to Kasseler Hut at the beginning, and from Friesenberg Hut to Gams Hut at the end.

My question is 'how tricky is this remaining main part ?'

Though Allan Hartley says in his Cicerone guidebook this is easy enough for families with children and no worse than a round of Helvellyn, I am still worried I may not be up to it - partly because I read elsewhere that the day hike from Berlinner Hut to Greizer Hut is "only for experienced mountain hikers !" And I can't claim I'm that - at least not in the Alps.

Any guess why they say that ?
Are climbing skills needed ?
Is the route easy to follow ?

Any comments would be very welcome.
Thanks,
Casablanca24
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