Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Austria - Day 7

Saturday 15 July 2017 - Essener Rostocker Hut to Johannis Hütte (2121 metres)

8 km
600 metres ascent
3.5 hours
18000 steps

A walk in light rain and snow over the Turmljoch pass (2790 metres).

The rain ceased on the descent to Johannis Hütte, but on the way the snow was up to a few inches deep, with patches of moss campion poking through.

We met two people near the pass, but that was our sole encounter on the walk. Sue and I were delayed on the pass as she lost an overmitt and went on a futile search whilst I sunbathed.

The Johannis Hütte was crammed with people taking lunch. We squeezed in and enjoyed soup, spag bol and a luxury salad.

Laundry and showering then kept us busy until Markus, our good friend from Dornbirn, arrived soon after 3.30.

In the interests of being sociable I'll end this entry now and hope that this and yesterday's postings will 'post' if I buy half an hour's WiFi. 

Pictures are chronological - note Johannis Hütte in the bottom image.

Austria - Day 6

Friday 14 July 2017 - Stroden (1405 metres) to Essener Rostocker Hut (2208 metres)

6.5 km
800 metres ascent
3.5 hours
12000 steps

After a good night at Hotel Hinteregger we could afford a lie in as our bus up the Virgental valley didn't leave until 9.43. It was good to encounter Mike and Sue (last seen in the Picos de Europa), and Graham and Mary, who brought our camping chairs back from the Dolomites a few years ago.

We abandoned unwanted items like down jackets, a broken camera and some tinned fish with Caroline, and set off on the second phase of our trip on the Postbus to Stroden.

The weather wasn't as sunny as usual, with intermittent attempts at drizzle in between the sunny periods.

After setting off around 10.30 we soon reached Stoanalm, where coffee and hot chocolate went down well and Sue and I shared an excellent apfelstrudel, our first of the trip.

The rest of the morning involved a steady scenic plod on a good forest track, emerging from the trees below the small Ochsner Hut, outside which we enjoyed our Collett's packed lunches.

The floral accompaniment had been excellent all morning, but was nothing short of outstanding for the remaining 300 metres of ascent to our destination, reached at 2 pm.

Orchids and bellflowers were particularly abundant.

On arrival at Essener Rostocker Hut we were shown to our room for four, plonked our gear there and set off on an excursion:

Essener Rostocker Hut to Simony See (2350 metres) and back

3.5 km
150 metres ascent
1.5 hours
8000 steps

This was a pleasant romp in light rain to an icy tarn. Lots more flowers, including alpenrose, and wheatears and redstarts. Back at 4 pm for a litre of teewasser and a welcome cuppa.

It's now 5 pm but I can predict beer o'clock (shortly), a four course half board dinner, a game of cards for some of us, flower identification, reading (Ruth Ware's 'The Lying Game' for me), and an early night.

No sign of a phone signal so there may be some delay, as is usual on this sort of trip.

The photos should be self explanatory. As usual, click on them for larger versions.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Austria - Day 5

Thursday 13 July 2017 - Sudetendeutsche Hütte to Matrei in Osttirol (1000 metres)

12 km
100 metres ascent
4.5 hours
23000 steps

We enjoyed a slow start, thanks to a bit of drizzle that subsided as we left the hut at 8.30.

The first 600 metres descent was on a good path, if steep and infested with over-eager sheep.

Once down at the goods lift it was an easy, flattish stroll to the fleshpots of Steineralm. An attentive lady served us drinks in the sunshine with a fabulous mountain backdrop.

Then a delightful contouring path past some cute goats took us to a view that remained with us all morning. Down to Matrei and across the valley to the Venediger peaks that we will pass close to during the next week.

Path 12 led steeply down to some gentler tarmac and a final off road section into Matrei. Thanks to some text messages, we were accosted by Caroline from Collett's and taken to our home for the night, the Hinteregger Hotel. It's an ideal place to slot inside a couple of easy days' walking.

After popping straight out for some lunch, we embarked on a big wash and are now set fair with clean clothes. Hopefully we can leave some items we haven't needed here until we return in a week's time.

Later: we can, and we've spent a lovely sociable evening with an assortment of Collett's staff and clients, four of whom we've met before!

The pictures:
Looking back to Sudetendeutsche Hütte
The view from Steineralm
Steineralm
Cows
Matrei and the Venediger massif
A present for AlanR 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Austria - Day 4

Wednesday 12 July 2017 - Rudolfs Hut to Sudetendeutsche Hütte (2650 metres)

15 km
1200 metres ascent
7 hours
32000 steps

Overnight rain hammered on the windows again, but it had cleared by the time we woke to a cloudy day.

However, after a good breakfast and happily laden with packed lunches, we set off at 8 o'clock in brightening conditions to the first pass of the day, Kalser Tauern. Near the top, a patch of steep snow encouraged Cary to don his crampons for the first time this trip.

By the time we had descended sharply past a herd of thirty or so ibex, to a river crossing that elicited four different crossing routes, it was hot and sunny enough for shorts to be donned instead of the gaiters some of us had deployed in expectation of soft snow.

Some time later, after we had gained another 200 metres and were approaching the Spinnevitrol saddle, Sue realised she had left her Fitbit where she had changed into shorts.

Decisions! Eventually Sue elected to return to try to find the gadget, which was rather closer than I had been to my sunglasses when I returned for them in the Apennines last year. Cary and Susan would continue along the route, and I would wait with Sue's rucksack until she returned, in what I guessed would be over an hour.

It was a lovely alpine meadow in which to linger. Clouds were coming and going, with the sun doing its best to take control before fighting a battle with the poor weather that was forecast for later in the day.

Exactly an hour later, Sue returned, a bit puffed and with her Fitbit. Good decision to go back.

We spent the rest of the day on lovely high alpine paths all the way to Sudetendeutsche Hütte. A couple of wired sections and some relatively easy river crossings added a bit of spice.

Two shepherds with a large flock of sheep were encountered. We waited for them to pass before chatting to the second shepherd. He had two of the scary white mountain dogs and talked of a trial project. Are they experimenting with the reintroduction of wolves?

Excluding the hour it took Sue to reclaim her Fitbit, today's walk took just seven hours, half an hour longer for Cary and Susan, who finished half an hour ahead of us. They could see us coming and by the time we arrived, a beer, a tea and two pieces of cake were waiting for us at the picnic table.

Today's pictures start with a view back to Rudolfs Hut and finish with a view to Sudetendeutsche Hütte. Purple saxifrage also features, together with a herd of ibex and Sue and Susan in the snow near Grossglockner, which had its hat on today.

And it didn't rain until nearly 5.30! Before clearing to a lovely evening.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Austria - Day 3

Tuesday 11 July 2017 - Heinrich-Schwaiger-Haus to Rudolfs Hut (2311 metres)

16.5 km
900 metres ascent
8 hours
34000 steps

After a night of rain battering the roof of the hut, and a forecast of wetness, it was something of a surprise to get up to a bright sunny morning.

Breakfast was again excellent, with an eat as much as you like buffet at this 2802 metre hut. Okay, they do have a goods lift, but this was a good experience. For a small fee we were also allowed to make our own butties for lunch.

The top picture was taken as we set off back down the 700 metre slope/precipice past a number of gruesome memorials to the dam. Thankfully uneventful.

A very pleasant contouring path beside Stausee Mooserboden was marred for me by a stumble that resulted in my camera being bashed. Goodbye Canon G16. I didn't like you anyway.

The other three all have cameras anyway, and hopefully I'll get a little bit of insurance money towards a Not Canon camera.

The next two pictures were taken from more or less the same place amidst magnificent scenery at the inflow to the reservoir. Then it was a pleasurable ascent to the 2639 metre Kapruner pass. On the way we met Johannis, last seen at Krefelder Hut. He was with one of his friends and two lads from the party of seven at Krefelder. They had all made it to Rudolfs Hut, but the other seven had decided to take a bus to Mooserboden before all meeting up again after the 700 metre ascent to Heinrich-Schwaiger-Haus. We set them a 1 hour 20 minute target for the ascent.  

Lunch was taken soon after this, our only encounter with anyone between Mooserboden and Rudolfs Hut.

Then it was a steady climb to reach Kapruner Torl (2639 metres) just before the cloud engulfed this narrow notch. A steady contouring descent brought us into clearer weather and eventually a view back up to the pass (fourth picture).

An easy descent and an abrupt ascent - I took the easy route 14 and the others took the quicker route 711 via a ladder and stemples and wires - brought us to Rudolfs Hut. More a sort of well equipped hotel near the top of a cablecar station. The bottom two pictures were taken outside this hostelry, which offers a wide selection of activities and walking routes.

We have an excellent en-suite room for four, and are replete after beer and buffet on Cary's birthday. We will make up for an absence of cake in a couple of days time.

Maps: We are now on Kompass 1:50000 number 46, and that will cover the rest of the trip. We started on the second map of number 50, which covers the Hohe Tauern National Park in three maps.
We also have Alpenvereinskarte maps numbers 36 and 40 - the 1:25000 maps of the area sold through the Austrian Alpine Club.

Lots of interesting flowers have been spotted during the last couple of days, highlights being frog orchid, purple saxifrage, alpine toadflax, round-leaved saxifrage, bearded bellflower, lesser wintergreen, Tofield's asphodel, creeping avens, mountain house leeks, and many more.

Here's hoping that this will transmit more easily than yesterday's effort.

Austria - Day 2

Monday 10 July 2017 - Krefelder Hut to Heinrich-Schwaiger-Haus (2802 metres)

15 km
1500 metres ascent
7.5 hours
30000 steps

An excellent day. We managed to enjoy some sunshine before the clouds rolled in, but our final 700 metre ascent, achieved in an hour and 20 minutes, saw us at our destination at 3.30, before the rain arrived.

Our luck with the weather won't last, if the forecast is to be believed!

Ski paraphernalia blighted our start to the day as we headed out with a party of six youngsters and their experienced leader, up to the Alpincenter cableway station. One of the girls has bad blisters. We hope they made it to Rudolfs Hut. We should meet them en route tomorrow.

Our routes diverged as we headed along path 726, at the start of which the top picture was taken (showing the col to which we had to ascend), past a small lake that was being dredged, before climbing sharply to reach a broad col. This was the Kammer Scharte, a fine viewpoint at 2689 metres, from which today's third picture was taken, the second being a clump of spring gentians that distracted us on the ascent.

Path 726 soon arrived at a viewpoint over two large reservoirs far below, the closest of which is in need of replenishment. A descending traverse made for slow going as a series of rock bands, sadly not of the musical variety, were encountered, some of them accompanied by steel wires that proved most useful.

Guidebook time to the restaurant at the Mooserboden dam, from which the fourth picture was taken, is 3.5 hours, but after a final 200 metre ascent in the heat of the day, it took us five hours.

We refuelled effectively for our 700 metre ascent to this cosy hut, almost halving our guidebook's 2.5 hour estimate. Lager shandy (Radler) went down well and the others enjoyed various forms of tea, one of which seems to involve a dollop of honey.

We are accompanied, as last night, by some small German groups. They are all friendly, and given our Anglo American make up they are doubly sympathetic to the messes that Trump and Brexit are making of our home countries.

Dinner here is at 7 o'clock. It's approaching, and a group of eleven has just arrived. They haven't booked and as last night at Krefelder they are soaking wet and don't understand hut etiquette. I hope their singing ends earlier tonight, they do look a bit knackered; there was no sign of them at breakfast this morning. 

PS Sorry about the delay. Internet connection problems.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Austria Day 1

Sunday 9 July 2017 - Zell am See to Krefelder Hut (2293 metres)

16 km
600 metres ascent
6 hours
25000 steps

We left Pension Milan after a good breakfast, waving off a party of bikers, and parting with €156.

The 9 am start saw us looking up to a cloudy horizon that cleared into a hot, sunny day, albeit very humid.

Starting on a path shared with cyclists beside a road, we headed towards Kaprun but left the road at the first opportunity, heading along paths 12 and 30 to skirt above Kaprun. It was hot and sticky on the scenic woodland paths.

Our original plan was to walk to Schaufelberg and get a bus from there to Maiskogelalm (as the Maiskogelbahn cable car no longer operates), then take the high level path to Krefelder Hut. But I felt more comfortable, given high humidity and the risk of lightning, taking a lower route.

So we found ourselves in a café beside Klammersee for elevenses. Excellent!

Soon after that, at noon, we passed a path (711) signed 5 hours to Krefelder. Just up the road a gondola was hoisting people over 1000 metres up the hill. We took it.

That left us up to 2000 metres for lunch at the intermediate gondola station. Krefelder Hut was nearby, albeit 200 metres up a hill. In the other direction the Alexander Enzinger Weg, path 5a, provided an enticing option. We took it. After dragging us up very pleasantly for 200 metres it reached a junction near a hillock at 2203 metres. From there a lovely belvedere path took us all the way to Krefelder Hut.

En route we passed numerous familiar flora - rock jasmine, alpine avens, alpine snowbells, least primrose, moss campion, spring gentians, edelweiss,  etc etc.

This is a very friendly hut with excellent food and entertaining clientele (apart from the chap who thought I was Sue's dad!).

Rain has come and gone, but I don't think there's been any hail to match the size of some of the heaps of half inch nuggets that we passed on the path.

We've had a sociable evening and have now (9.30) adjourned to our rooms. We were expecting a dormitory, but we actually have a double room and a twin room. The view from our double room as I write is the bottom image. The others were taken during the day and at Krefelder Hut.

All in all, a brilliant first day's walk.