I’m writing from Munich, having just wrapped up three wonderful weeks of hut trekking in the northern limestone Alps of Bavaria (Germany) and Tyrol (Austria). We hiked through the Karwendel range, crossed over the rugged Kaisergebirge, toured the Berchtesgaden mountains, and traversed the Dachstein — sleeping and eating in alpine huts all along the way with a few stays in villages in between. Though not as tall as the central ranges of the Alps, these jagged limestone mountains boast ultra rugged profiles that rival the famous Dolomites in Italy.
Of course I have a heap of new photos that I’m eager to share, but that will have to wait until after the summer when I’ve got my real computer monitor to work on (and a place to live). For the remainder of the summer we will be on the road in Colorado, living out of our truck and backpacking as much as we can!
The final destination of our three-week northern limestone Alps tour in July was the Dachstein mountain range of Austria. Starting from near the Südwandhütte, above the lovely village of Ramsau on the south side of the range, we hiked for three days around and over the Dachstein to the famous village of Hallstatt on the north side, via the Hofpürglhütte, Adamek-Hütte, and Simony Hütte.
In July after our trek in the Karwendel we took a bus and train to the town of Kufstein, stocked up on some snacks, and started hiking into the Kaisergebirge, a small but incredibly rugged mountain range that rivals just about anything in the Dolomites as far as sheer jaggedness goes. This would be a shorter two-night trek but would prove to be much more strenuous than our previous one! We spent the first night at the Vorderkaiserfeldenhütte, the second at the Stripsenjochhaus, then climbed over the Wilder Kaiser range via the famous Eggersteig route and down to the village of Ellmau.
In early July after two weeks in Germany visiting Claudia’s family and friends, I was excited to go down to the Alps for some mountain time! Our first destination was the Karwendel range just north of Innsbruck, Austria. Over the course of 5 days, we hiked from west to east below the jagged spine of this range from the villages of Scharnitz to Pertisau, via the Karwendelhaus, Falkenhütte, Eng Alm, and Lamsenjochhaus. With reasonably short hiking days and not very steep trails, this was a perfect warm up trek to acclimate us to mountain trekking again for the first time this summer.
Six hours of train rides brought us from Freiburg to Mittenwald, the uber-quaint Bavarian village where we had stayed back in 2013 prior to climbing the Zugspitze. So in a way it felt like picking up where we had left off before — on that previous trip we had trekked through the Allgau and Lechtal ranges west of there, and now we would be trekking eastward.
The next day we started walking from the nearby village of Scharnitz, just over the border in Austria. A long but gentle forest road led to the Karwendhaus, spectacularly situated on the edge of a dramatic cliff overlooking the Karwendaltal valley. Coincidentally, shortly after arriving at the hut Claudia ran into four of her former classmates from her university days in Freiburg!
It started raining just as we arrived at the hut, but later in the evening everybody was thrilled to see the sunset light burst through the clouds in this spectacular display of light!
The next day we hiked further along the range to the Falkenhütte, located at another spectacular site underneath the massive vertical north face walls of the Karwendel.
Our latest adventure in the Alps was an 8-day trek through the Lechtal Alps in Austria, the neighboring range just south of the Allgäuer Alps of our previous trek. In fact on many days of our trek we could look across the valley and see the peaks and ridges which we had just hiked and climbed over the previous week.
The Lechtal Alps are characterized by mountain ridges soaring steeply out of deeply cut valleys, topped with green basins ringed by countless jagged peaks. While the Allgäuer Alps seemed to offer mostly broad sweeping vistas, the Lechtal Alps have more immediate views of towering pyramidal peaks right in your face. The close and rugged peaks, combined with the clear air after some rains cleaned the haze away, made for some stunning photography! Continue reading “Lechtal Alps”→
We are relaxing in the lovely Bavarian town of Oberstdorf in southern Germany after having trekked for the last 7 days through the Allgäuer Alps, a fantastic mountain range which runs along the border of Germany and Austria. Read more about the trek and see more photos below! Continue reading “Allgäuer Alps”→
This week we are chilling out for Christmas holidays in the Austrian ski town of Mayrhofen. I’ve spent a couple days exploring the Mayrhofen ski area, an expansive area with a somewhat illogical lift arrangement. This is the first real mega-resort I’ve visited yet in the Alps, along with mega-crowds (especially since everyone’s on vacation this week). It’s quite the ski production here, with big fast lifts, the hugest tram I’ve ever seen, and the thumping Austrian apre-ski bars! I am also looking forward to exploring some of the other ski areas in the Zillertal valley in the next few days (Mayrhofen is just one… there’s three other ones I want to see too!) Though the snow conditions aren’t the best right now, it’s still fun to cruise around, snap photos, and check out new mountains.
On Monday I left Itay and headed to Obergurgl, Austria. This little ski town is set at the end of a long, deep valley with soaring snow-smothered mountains rising on two sides. Tuesday was a mostly bluebird day and although there was not much fresh powder left, the groomers were wide and smooth, and I spent the whole day riding around the Hochgurgl/Obergurgl ski area checking it out. This place is impressive. It is the most beautiful ski area I’ve ever seen – in the sense that the mountains here are so perfectly suited for a ski resort. The mountains have a certain straight and broad aspect to them without any bottleneck valleys or useless flat ridges, and everything is covered in snow. Basically the entire slope from one end to the other is skiable, and the pistes could have been made anywhere on the mountain. And it’s nice and steep. This place would be mind-blowing on a big powder day… I hope to return sometime this winter!