(I guess it would be easy and pleasant to connect our hiking steps into one continuous ‘thru-hike’ and avoid the bus, but we had limited time and were keen to go straight up to the high routes rather than use a connecting trail in the valley).
The Gschnitztal valley is idyllic picture postcard Austria with lush green fields, hay bales and cows dotted between small villages. We exited the bus at the end of the road and hiked up the valley gently at first before climbing steeply up hot trail through forest. A beautiful flower meadow surrounded by steep peaks and bubbling streams was an excuse for a stop before the final push up to the small Bremer Hut. This was possibly our favourite hut so far, being small and next to a tarn with grand mountain views.
After checking in to the hut, we decided to climb the nearby peak- Innere Wetter Spitze, which rises steeply about 700m right from the hut – ‘Weather Top’! Some great exposed scrambling with a little via ferrata took us to the sharp summit with panoramic views with no one else around.
A fantastic day and maybe the best yet.
Friday 13th July 2018 Bremer Hut to Dresdner Hut We started with another steep climb to the first pass of the day with a cool border patrol hut right at the top of a sharp ridge. We hit some rock hard snow slopes descending the far side and had our ice axes out with Brian pulling out a set of microspikes (mini crampons) providing additional grip for the running shoes. Below, the trail wound its way through some lush alpine meadows and streams before dropping through a rock band aided by cables. A mellow hike took us to the Nuernberger Hut nestled in another great spot.
From here another short climb took us up to the Niederl col opening up views to more and more peaks and glaciers to the west. The descent down passed some surreal blue lakes then onto glacier moraine ridges to the Sulzenau Hut. This one was bustling and must be within easy reach of the road as it was mobbed with people soaking up the sun and enjoying the good food and drink!
We happily exited from here for the last pass of the day, the Peiljoch, hiking up past a tremendous zone of glaciers dropping from the ‘Zuckerhuetl’ mountain range. It was late afternoon and we had this trail to ourselves as we descended steeply to our final hut for the day, the Dresdner Hut. This is situated within a ski area and is connected by road so is a bit more hotel like than the other huts, but the food was excellent and we had a great night there.
Saturday 14th July Dresdner Hut to Franz Senn Hut We are both feeling a bit fatigued after 7 long days but are soon fortified by the buffet breakfast- we are consuming a lot of calories on this trip! Our route turned northwards today on another scenic balcony trail, roughly contouring round the sides of the mountains. We cross a steep pass, Grawagrubennieder 2888m, and have the ice axes out again dropping down snow the other side to a rubbly boulder field before reaching trail again. From there we head pleasantly down a wide glaciated valley to the Neue Regensburger Hut, known for its home baked cakes which we had to sample!
Our first pass of the afternoon was the Besslerjoch, which was almost blocked by snow but we sneaked past. The descent is rocky and gets a bit slippery with some afternoon rain.
We are both happy to see the Franz Senn hut in the distance but find it to be mobbed when we arrive at 18:10. Our tactic this trip has been to avoid booking any huts in advance- unlike everyone else- but this gives us the flexibility to change plans and double or even treble up hut to hut days. This time though we have to wait until 20:00 to find out if we can get a bed but hoorah, luck out in that yes there are beds and that we have got a place in the overflow basement ski room. The good thing here is that it is quiet and has a door so that we can have fresh air through the night!
Sunday 15th July Franz Senn Hut to Innsbruck It rained hard through the night and the in the morning. We are a day away from connecting with our next mountain range, the Otztal but have some high passes to go over. We decide to hike down the valley instead and get buses to Innsbruck and dry out. The hike works out fine and once we reach the road, we actually get a lift from a couple also descending from the hut. They drop us off at the small town of Neustift and we catch a bus easily into Innsbruck from there.