Berliner Höhenweg 2012
So this year we thought we’d return to Austria and have another attempt at the “Berliner Höhenweg” also called the “Zillertaler Runde” or even the “Zillertal Rucksack Route” (but not by the locals). We’d attempted this way back in September 2007 but were unexpectedly snowed off. This time we went in the last week of June and we still encountered a considerable amount of snow leading to longer days than the local signage might suggest.
Day 0: To Mayrhofen
We flew to Munich and took the train to Mayrhofen (to spend our first night in a nice hotel).
Accommodation: Hotel Robert
Day 1: Edel Hütte (2238m)
From Mayrhofen we took the Ahornbahn cable car to the Ahorn Plateau (1960m). We walked up to the Edel Hut for a quick lunch and then nipped up the Ahorn Spitz (2978m) for a little acclimatization and the spectacular view shown below.
Stats: Ascent: 1015m, Descent: 735m
Accommodation: Edel Hütte
Day 2: Kasseler Hütte (2177m)
We awoke to heavy rain and a stern warning from the Hut Guardians not to attempt the Höhenweg route to the Kasseler Hut as it would be unsafe. We agreed as we had done this bit of the route before, and it is quite steep and exposed in places over slippery rock and old snow. Instead we took the cable car back down to Mayrhofen and got the bus up the Stilluptal valley to the Grüne-Wand Hut. From there we walked up to the Kasseler without difficulty.
Stats: Ascent: 750m, Descent: 45m
Accommodation: Kasseler Hütte
Day 3: Greizer Hütte (2226m)
We set off in beautiful weather to meet a number of long gullies full of old snow which had frozen rock hard overnight. This gave us a tough morning of cutting steps with our ice axes and fairly slow progress until the sun started to soften the snow. By lunch time we were well under way and over the easy “fixed chains” of the Elsenklamm and then the high Lapen Scharte col (2707m). We descended to the Greizer Hut through a few more patches of soft steep snow. Overall a much longer harder day than anticipated.
Stats: Ascent: 815m, Descent: 720m, Time: 7.5hrs
Accommodation: Greizer Hütte
Day 4: Berliner Hütte (2040m)
The day to the Berliner Hut started with an descent of 400m into the head of the valley before turning up towards the Mörchen Scharte (2872m). On the ascent, we were immediately faced with a 15m ladder, closely followed by a zig-zagging route protected by fixed ropes. The ground soon became less steep for the majority of the ascent, although the final couple of hundred metres were a tricky choice between steep unstable screey mud, or steep soft snow full of holes. The steep remains of an old snow cornice at top of the col were very exciting, and the snow appeared to go on for miles on the far side. However we made good progress as the ground became less steep but again it was a longer day than expected.
Stats: Ascent: 1085m, Descent: 1230m, Time: 8hrs
Accommodation: Berliner Hütte
Day 5: Furtschaglhaus (2295m)
The ascent of the Schönbichler Horn (3134m) was a long 1200m slog. Initially, it was just very hot as we ascended the Waxeggkees glacier’s lateral moraine. Once on the main Krähenfuß ridge we met more exposure on steep snow and lots of loose rock . The fixed ropes towards the top of the peak were welcome, and very useful in descending the far side onto more snow fields.
Stats: Ascent: 1215m, Descent: 960m, Time: 9hrs
Accommodation: Furtschagl Haus
Day 6: Friesenberghaus (2498m)
We descended to the great Schlegeis reservoir (1782m) and had ice cream. Then we had a hot but otherwise pretty ascent to the Friesenberghaus.
Stats: Ascent: 690m, Descent: 505m
Day 7: Rest Day
We had chosen to stay two nights at the Friesenberghaus for our well earned rest day. We had thought to wander round to the nearby Olperer Hut for lunch and back, but the route was peppered with snow patches. Instead, some of us went up to a very small peak called Petersköpfl (2679m) while the others climbed a rather bigger peak called the Höher Riffler (3231m).
Day 8: Gams Hütte (1921m)
We set off towards the Gams Hut for a long, undulating day below the snowline. The weather was once again a bit hotter than we might have liked, and Patrick’s hat became the focus of obsession for most of the flies in the Zillertal. The final few hundred metres of the traversing path before the final descent to the Hut were quite steep and exposed, so we were very glad of good visibility and dry weather.
Stats: Ascent: 585m, Descent: 1085m
Accommodation: Gams Hütte
Day 9: Down to Mayrhofen
Our mission was to find cake and eat it so we descended to Finkenberg and then on to Mayrhofen. Alternatively, a couple of our group went up and bagged the additional optional peak of the Grinberg Spitz (2867m) before joining us.
Stats: Ascent: 45m, Descent: 1270m
We then had 6 days based in a self catering apartment in Mayrhofen. We did a few different walks (some mentioned below), and also had our day trip to Hintertux rained off which scuppered our plans for a glacier expedition. However we made Patrick buy a new hat.
Accommodation: Apartment Mozart
We took the Penkenbahn Cable Car up to Penken (1933m) and walked up to the Wangle Spitz (2420m) and on to the Rastkogel (2762m).
Stats: Ascent: 890m, Descent: 890m
Pfitscherjoch Haus (2277m)
Some of us took the bus back up to the Schlegeis (1782m) and walked up to the Pfitscherjoch Haus (2277m) just the other side of the Italian border.
Stats: Ascent: 500m, Descent: 500m
We took the chair lift from Ramsau up to Sonnen Alm (1350m) and walked to the Ketahorn Alm (1624m) for a mouldy strudel then on to the Berggasthof Steinerkogl (1269m) for a much nicer cake.
Stats: Ascent: 435m, Descent: 1110m
Some More Information…
- These are the maps we used: Fretag & Berndt WK152 1:50k; and Alpenvereinskarte Zillertal Alpen West 35/1 & Mitte 35/2 both 1:25k (see ads below).
- We also had a copy of Allan Hartley’s Trekking in the Zillertal Alps: The Zillertal Rucksack Route (Cicerone Mountain Walking) and this DAV pdf leaflet (in german).
- A Spreadsheet of Hut Details…
Author: Phil Newby