Paul has had it months in the imagining and the planning and at last there’s approval for a new route to test out in the Austrian andBavarian Alps. There’s a brochure deadline and some other tours to lead as well, so it will be a busy summer. Paul agrees some dates in July and August 2012 and pre books the huts. Here are some of the highlights of the recci.
So we’re off and firstly, what to pack. The omnipresent hutter’s challenge is to have kit for all weathers, all eventualities and it has to be light as a feather.
I allow myself 2 extras, a thin book (Hemmingway writing about 1920s Paris) and an ever useful sarong and try out the sack, not too bad but water and food still to go in.
Unbelievably night 1 is in a hotel in Kufstein, just below the famous castle and organ, then after an excellent buffet breakfast we head for the mountains in rain, day 1 has a peak Pyramidenspitzse so Paul goes over the spitzse and I take a high level traverse to reach the Anton Karg Haus (829m), beautifully located by a stream in a steep sided valley, surrounded by peaks………..and yes it is verrrrrrrrrrrrrry good to be back in the mountains.
Then we have to go over the Wilder Kaiser but late lying snow makes some routes tricky this year so plans have to give a little and we go around instead. En route we realise Paul’s mobile has been cut off and at about 2000m on a steep narrow path we find ourselves on a lengthy call to Mannilla to get it reconnected. The scenery is stunning, it’s hot, very hot up to 30C, there’s a phenomenal variety of wild flowers and I count over 80 different flowers during a half day’s walking.
We reach another hut and stay 2 nights, the Grutten Hutte (1620m), again in an amazing location on a rocky ledge. We have a lovely pine clad room with a tiny window looking over to the high Alps. The beer comes only in half litres or more and we need it and the huge plates of salad and schnitzel that soon arrive. We’re woken early, not by an Alpine start but by the clattering and chattering of a large film crew who arrive for 2 days filming here, for a German rescue series called Berg Doktor. Paul heads off to check out some more peaks and I keep an eye on the filming and the stunts on the nearby rocks while taking in a little Hemmingway.
We walk down from the busy Grutten Hutte and across the valley towards the Kitzbuhler Horn. Again the route doesn’t go quite as predicted, and we find ourselves looking for a long since eradicated footpath and a non-existent hut booking and end up with a jaw dropping 4×4 off-road experience on mountain paths that lead to our newly arranged stop at the Adler Hutte (1266m). Here, we are served a romantic 3 course meal on the terrace with views looking back over our route from the Wilder Kaiser, then there’s an Alpine Glow followed by a lengthy electrical storm…and there’s a shower here that’s not time limited!
Down we go again, and first it’s into the grand and ever popular Kitzbuhl, we take a quick look around, stock up on a little food and I manage to pop into the local museum with an exhibition of Alfonse Walde’s paintings. The world famous Hahnennkamm downhill run beckons, and uphill, it is part of our route onto over and down to Aschau and another overnight stop. From there another change of route takes us up to the very hospitable Kelchalm (1432m), originally built for lead miners in the 1800s, it is now run by Andreas and Melanie with their young family, their daughter goes down to the valley and school by sledge in winter. I stay there and Paul goes onto check out another couple of huts and a few more peaks.
We have to take a break from the recci and go over to Stubaital to lead groups who are coming over to theAlpsfor “Tirolean Summer”. Six weeks later and we can pick up this route again.
Now we are in the final days. We both chuck out 40% of the gear we had deemed to be essential, my book goes out, but the sarong is still there and I’ve acquired a yodelling marmot from some of our last group and it’s keen to do a few peaks! So be it! Annemarie and Bruce, her chihuahua, give us a lift from Fulpmes to the walk start near Weissbach, more sweltering heat.
We’re going to the Ingolstadter Haus (2119m) and we start with a Steig ( a steep mountain path) …well it’s more like a vertical and goes on for 700m or more. We emerge to a lake (Diesbach Stausee) and continue more gently up through some absolutely spectacular limestone scenery to reach the Steinemen Meer (a stone ocean).
We arrive late with our head torches on and drink a few litres each and have some noodle soup, before searching out our bunks in the dark and trying not to wake up other sleepers. Next morning we can see the amazing location of this hut and the scale of the rock formations, we have a shorter day and cross the border intoBavariato reach the Karlinger Haus (1630m), another large, busy and hospitable hut. I was totally unprepared for its idyllically beautiful location, perched above a small lake, the Funtensee and surrounded by peaks… imagine also sun, clear blue skies and marmots (real ones) playing on the rocks. We have 2 nights here so yes you guessed it, Paul does a few more peaks and marmot (yodel) and I relax by the lake and have a swim and watch the real marmots gambling around.
Sadly it is the last day and what a finish, the descent via a serpentine path to Konigsee. More splendid scenery, a gorge and views down to the deep, tranquil, sparkling turquoise waters of the lake. As always, Konigsee with its precipitous mountains is stunningly beautiful and I can’t resist a swim. On then to St Bartholoma, an Ice Becher for me and a Kafe und Kuchen for Paul and then a boat trip across the lake and a couple of km walk onto the hotel in Berchesgarten…the end of the mountains for the moment and back to reality.
Over a final celebration beer we agree it’s a fantastic route, there are some long days, some very long days, wonderfully varied and impressive scenery, very good huts, brilliant food, tough walking, plenty of optional peaks and a few Steigs …and I ask,
“what about that Steig up to Ingolstadter? Well (grudgingly) yes it was quite hard. Harder than Serles (well known to Tirolean Summer walkers)? Well maybe!” I think I’m entitled to another beer or even a schnapps or two. Marmot (yodel) agrees!
So overall: the best bit for me,
- so hard to decide …the Grutten Hutte and the formidable Wilder Kaiser, the views from the Adler Hut but no it has to be the last day from the hauntingly beautiful setting of the Karlinger Haus to the equally magnificent Konigsee and maybe that glorious swim just tipped the balance.
- the most bizarre bit… it has to be that call to Mannilla from a high and airy place trying to explain why mobile cover is more than essential and we need it restored immediately, not in 3 days time.
It’s all recorded on the GPS, there are loads of notes and photos and the office is busy planning the schedules, there inevitably have been lots of changes but that’s what reccis are for. We think it’s a spectacular Alpine route and it will be in next summer’s brochure so if you love the mountains and some tough walking in some awesome places give it a go and let us know what you think… sorry we can’t include the 4×4 ride (against Health and Safety regs) but there will be the Alpine Glow and electrical storms to watch and the Konigsee to swim in and marmot reminds me there are ample apple strudel opps, mit oder ohne sahne and much, much, much more. Just writing this makes me wish I was back there!!