Trek Notes - Austria

A Taste of the Tirol

A Taste of the Tirol

From the southern fringes of Germany into the heart of the Austrian Tirol, this route passes through some pristine mountain scenery of two mountain ranges, the Wetterstein and the Karwendel to reach the sheer rock faces that rear up from the Inn valley just a stones throw from Innsbruck. Distances are not great but the ascents, descents and rugged nature of the mountains makes this a true Alpine experience.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is in a beautiful location at the foot of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany (2962m/9724ft). This lively resort in the Bavarian Alps makes a wonderful place to start a walk across the mountains to Innsbruck. The start of a 'warm-up' walk is reached by cable car from where the balcony path leads to Höllentalklamm (hell valley gorge). There are great views of Zugspitze before the descent through the gorge. From Garmisch you have to carry an overnight bag up into the Wetterstein Massif, following the 'Kings Path' to Castle Schachen and on to the mountain cabin where we stay overnight; a real mountain experience. This is a great place to watch an alpine sunrise before heading down the Leutasch valley, a mix of rocky terrain and green valley, into Austria for a night at the picturesque frontier village of Scharnitz.

With the aid of a vehicle transfer, walking in Austria begins deep in the Karwendel valley with a couple of hours hike up to a mountain lodge. From here there are many options for walks to the neighbouring peaks and cols, or take a rest for half a day. The next day again offers many options with numerous peaks sub-peaks, cols or huts all making suitable goals for an exhilarating day walk. You can choose a route to match your experience, skills and energy levels. The finale is a walk on a high level trail across passes culminating in a steep ascent, requiring surefootedness and a head for heights, to the top of Nordkette, a fine peak with magnificent views across the Inn valley. Not far away is the summit station of the cable car that will take you down to Innsbruck for the final night of the holiday.

Nearest airport: Munich

The first Hotel: in Garmisch Partenkirchen. Can be reached by train from Munich Airport. If possible clients should aim to arrive by 6pm in good time for the evening meal.

End of Tour:The tour ends on Day 8 in Innsbruck. There are good rail connections back to Munich

From Munich take a train to Garmisch Partenkirchen (approx 1.5 hours, cost approx. 20Euro).

As one would expect in Austria and Germany, the trails are generally very well marked and often signposted, but it is essential to carry and be able to use a map and compass in case of mist etc. Some of the suggested walks in the Karwendel are less well marked through mountainous terrain and you will need to be able to use a map and compass in conjunction with the route notes.

Waymarking is usually red and white paint marking, but can also be other colours.

In late June and early July there can be snow patches on higher trails, while new snowfalls are unlikely but possible in September.

Level of Difficulty
Grade & Fitness: We grade this tour as moderate - Challenging; three days are moderate walks and the other 3 are more accurately defined as challenging. If you are used to mountain walking and can cope with an average daily height gain/loss of up to 3,000 ft (900 m) you should find the tour within their capability. The hardest walks are on days 3 and 7; both are about 12km and have ascents of 1600m and 1200m respectively. Other days have ascents of between 350m and 1000m and distances of up to 15½ km. Expect to walk for between 4 and 7 hours per day. To undertake this trip as a self-guided holiday you must be competent with map and compass in high mountain terrain and have experience of Alpine conditions. If you are in any doubt about your suitability for the trip then please call us.

General Information
Baths: it is not the norm for your hotel room to have a bath, the main reason being that it takes up a lot of space. Expect showers as part of your en suite facilities.

Breakfast: in countries such as Germany/Austria are usually buffet style, please don’t offend your hosts by making up a picnic lunch from the breakfast buffet unless it has been specifically organised for you. Breakfasts in the huts can be a little more limited. It is important for you to tell us if you have any dietary requirements when you book your holiday so that we can inform everyone that you are staying with.

Single Supplements: are payable on most of our tours. The single supplement guarantees the privacy of your own room, however, rooms can at times be small and in some places may not enjoy the same facilities as double/twin rooms. You are not just paying a supplement on the room but also on the luggage transfers, as the cost of moving 1 bag or 2 bags is the same.

Language: When travelling in less frequented areas you will not necessarily come across people speaking English. This is especially the case in the huts. Try to learn a few phrases of German and take a phrase book with you.

Luggage: When staying in hotels, sometimes your luggage will have been taken to your room awaiting your arrival. However don’t be surprised if your luggage is waiting for you at reception. At the hut the guardian will look after your bags until you arrive.

Twin Rooms: In Austria twin rooms tend to be 1 double bed frame that has 2 separate mattresses and 2 separate duvets. The beds cannot be separated.

Accommodation & Meals
Accommodation is on a half board basis for 7 nights (7 evening meals included). 4 nights are in 3* hotels/Gasthofs where all rooms have en suite facilities. 3 nights are spent in mountain huts in twin rooms, however bathroom facilities are shared. The huts used are of a high standard providing comfortable and homely accommodation. Lunches are not included in the tour cost. Picnic materials can be readily bought on weekdays in each of the towns and villages we stay at. The hotels, if requested the evening before, can also provide packed lunches. It is a good idea to take some basic lunch supplies up to the huts as supplies are limited and can be expensive.

Please note that we are not able to guarantee the accommodation exactly, but the descriptions of the hotels and guesthouses below are the normal ones used; you will be notified if there are any changes at the time of booking.

Nights 1 and 2: In Garmisch Partenkirchen: We use a chalet style hotel not far from the town centre. The 3-star accommodation is well presented and has all the home comforts you require for a two-night stay. Evening meals are served in the hotel/gasthof dinning room and are tasty fare that will quell even the heartiest appetite.

Night 3: High in the Wetterstein Massif. Our accommodation is mountain cabin/hut in a remote situation. The term hut is a little misleading as the accommodation and hospitality is more akin to a simple hotel, without all the telephones, TV’s and mini bars! We use the twin rooms that are available but bathroom facilities are shared. The views are fantastic and the evening meal is served in the main dinning room where normally there is friendly talk between all of the walkers who are staying for the night.

Note: You must carry a small rucksack with all the things you will need for an overnight stay to the hut and on to Scharnitz the next day.

Night 4: In Scharnitz. Your main luggage will be waiting at the hotel in Scharnitz. We use a selection of 3 star accommodation, all providing warm hospitality, en suite facilities and a restaurant.

Night 5 and 6: High in the Karwendel we stay in another comfortable hut with twin rooms for 2 nights. The washing facilities are again shared but luggage is delivered to the hut. Meals are served in the main common room where walkers tend to socialise in the evenings and swap stories of past expeditions. The guardian will be able to advise you on current local conditions for the suggested walks and probably be able to suggest more possibilities.

Night 7: In Innsbruck Accommodation is also in a 3* establishment, either a Gasthof or a Hotel; both have en suite facilities.

Day 1: From Munich take train to Garmisch Partenkirchen. The cost of this journey is not included in the holiday price and is about 20 Euro. If you arrive early there is plenty to see in Garmisch. Dinner at hotel.

Day 2: Balcony path in Höllentalklamm (hell valley gorge). Ascent by cable car to Kreuzeck where the balcony path to Höllental valley starts. The beautifully located mountain cabin Angerhütte, with view to Zugspitze the highest mountain of Germany, is an ideal place for a resting, before you walk through impressive Höllental gorge to Garmisch. Distance for the standard route is 8.8 km, with 374m of ascent and 1112m of descent. The route can be extended to 12 km or walked in reverse to make it more of a physical challenge. Approx 4 hours walking time for the standard route. Please note that there is a 2 Euro entrance fee to the Gorges that is not included in the holiday price.

Day 3: Up in Wetterstein Massif, (where Bavarian „Sun King“ Louis had a castle). At the start of the day, carrying your overnight gear, you walk through another gorge to the foot of Wetterstein Massif. There is a steep climb until you reach “Kings Path” to Castle Schachen. The latter stages to the mountain cabin where you stay tonight offers a real high mountain hiker’s experience with sweeping views to the surrounding peaks. The mountain cabin is 9.5 km from the start and is quite a tough day involving 1150m of ascent and just 125m of descent. The walking time will be about 5 hours, perhaps a little more.

Day 4: Sunrise in the mountains and walk to Scharnitz. Getting up early to see the sunrise is a great thing to do in the mountains and it also allows you to make an early start on this long day. The day starts with further climbing into and across a rocky landscape before a descent into the Leutasch valley. This is followed by gentler walking towards Scharnitz until at the end of the day a wild and idyllic gorge waits for you. This is a day when you will never tire of the beautiful surroundings. The distance covered is 17.6 km, the ascent is 898m, descent 1791m and the expecting walking time is at least 7 hours.

Day 5: Into the Karwendel. Vehicle transfer deep into the Karwendel valley. A gentler walk to Halleranger alpine pasture, which is reached reach after about 2 hours. Enjoy the day; relax or walk up to Sunntiger Spitze. Overnight in a very comfortable mountain cabin with your luggage. Walking distance to the hut just 5.5 km with 500m of ascent. Going on to Sunntiger Spitze adds another 4km, 565m of ascent and descent and will take about 3 hours more.

Day 6: Summits of Karwendel. The mountain hut is located at an altitude of 1.700 meters and the summits around are from 2.300 up to 2.700 meters. So you will have about 500 to 1.000m of ascent to conquer a peak. There is also a nice walking tour into a canyon but the route is there and back on the same trail. The distances involved in the various options are between 6 and 12 km. When choosing your route consider your mountain experience and fitness and the prevailing weather conditions. The hut guardian will be able to give some advice.

Day 7: Across Karwendel to Innsbruck. A marvelous balcony path brings you across several ridges (passes) to the famous Nordkette of Innsbruck. A short but steep ascent requires sure-footedness and stamina. After that you can walk light hearted – but better not light headed – to the summit station of Hafelekar cable car and you will be carried downhill to Innsbruck. Distance walked for the day is 11.8 km; ascent is 1200m, descent 720m, which should take about 7 hours.

Day 8: After breakfast make your own way to the railway station in Innsbruck (not included), and take the train to Munich for the return flight to London; train fare not included and costs approx. 35 Euro.

A representative will meet you at the first hotel to welcome you and answer any questions that you may have prior to starting the walk. You will be provided with tickets for the two cable cars used on the itinerary.

The price is based on two people sharing a twin or double room and includes bed & Breakfast accommodation and evening meals on 7 evenings. Also included, except to and from one hut, is the transfer of baggage on days where you walk to the next hotel or hut. Please note that we pay for one piece of luggage per person to be moved. The vehicle transfer on day 5 is also included.

A detailed set of route notes and maps will be supplied before departure.

Not included: Rail or road transport to the first hotel is not included, nor is transport from the last hotel to your point of departure.

Packed lunches, snacks and drinks etc. are all at your own extra expense.



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