Tuesday 24 July 2007 - A Rainy Day in the Alps
We were the last to go to bed in our dorm, around 9.30, for a good night's sleep, with no snoring, until 6 am when the other three decided to get up and spend the next 45 minutes rustling with their rucksacks. Anyway, the dorm was empty by the time Sue and I rose just before 7am.
NB Hut etiquette demands that if you get up early, you take all your stuff out of the dorm and rustle with it outside. Manfred is delighted there are people new to hutting, but dismayed that they don't know the etiquette. Despite my criticisms of Allan Hartley's book, he does make some useful comments about hut etiquette, including "bitte" and "danke".
All these huts have a plentiful supply of playing cards, die, board games and books, and today we found out why.
Here at the Berliner Hütte there are lots of people up from the valley for the night in this superb building, and as it's raining outside, entertainment is required.
We reached here in 5 hours from Greizer Hütte (8am to 1pm) - the Cicerone guide being subjected to more editing.
After a good breakfast of the usual bread, cheese, ham, jam and coffee, we set off with Manfred down the valley path after donning waterproofs for the first time this trip. It wasn't really raining though, so they soon came off. Then they went on again. We eschewed the turn off to the valley and headed across a rickety bridge at 1800 metres (pictured above), and up to a 5 metre ladder at 1900 metres.
Sue must have taken the above photo then dashed past me and Manfred to take the next picture!
Good weather for salamanders
We passed Manfred here but he held on well and was only an hour or so slower than us today. Soon the hail drummed down after we had plodded up the well graded path for a welcome rest on a promontory just below 2300 metres. Then on relentlessly to the col at Morchen Scharte - 2872 metres, where at 11.15 we caught up with the couple who had slept next to us last night.
Here’s the view from Morchen Scharte
Remarkably, the rain had eased and we had good views to both Greizer and Berliner huts. Briefly. It was cold. We rooted around in our bags for gloves. The weather was closing in again so Sue and I hastened down the well graded path towards Berliner.
Sue hastened a bit quickly and fell, gashing a hole in her little used (bought for our Pyrenees HRP walk in 2004) overtrousers, and bruising her knee. No serious damage though, and we proceeded with care, intermittently treated with views then more rain, to reach the spacious Berliner Hütte by 1pm.
We managed to get a room for two (€18) before enjoying a sumptuous lunch - soup with sausages for Sue and 3 eggs with lots of bacon and potato for me. We'd earned it. Plus teewasser to which we add our tea bags. But here they charge €1.50 and provide all the ingredients. (We forgot to pay.) Yet another hut system, it's completely pay as you go here.
Manfred arrives. He has heard comments that this is not a 'Hütte', just a hotel with bad beds. Lots of people do seem to come from the valley just to see it, and perhaps stay the night. It is a tourist attraction in its own right, having been enlarged on several occasions and used as a prestigious residence by royalty, gentry and the military.
In WW2 it was used as a base to train crack German troops. It accommodates nearly 200 people. It has hot showers, which are most welcome, and some washing is done and placed in the heaving drying room.
And so, by 4pm, all is well with the world, we are washed and cleaned, the view has returned, and we can relax for the rest of the day.
First job: Patch Sue's overtrousers....
The big ballroom dining room which we feared would be too cool, proves too hot for Manfred, who is still in shock after a frightening experience on the col in the storm that accompanied our descent.
Berliner Hut – the spacious entrance hall
An afternoon and evening in the ballroom
The evening passes - lasagne for dinner, followed by Kaiserschmerren - sweet pancakes. The cloud clears and we both venture out to look at the glaciers and mountains - it is chilly.
Cloud descends as we retire to the luxury of our room for two - one single bed (for me, with a very short duvet) and a mattress (for Martin).
And bonking Swedes next door making the whole corridor vibrate!