The Eagle Walk – Through the Lechtal Alps to the Arlberg

The Eagle Walk – Through the Lechtal Alps to the Arlberg

And with that, we’re already at the third an last report about the Eagle Walk. This time we go from Lermoos at the Zugspitze-Mountain all across the Lechtal Alps to St. Christoph at the Arlberg. This equals the last eight stages of the Eagle Walk.

This time I started the journey on my own again, took the bus and train on Sunday morning to the Austrian side of the Zugspitze-Mountain and started from there to hike up the Grubigstein Mountain to the Wolfratshauser Hut at its slopes. From the upper gondola station, the Eagle Walk then would continue. Again, between Innsbruck and this restart, I left out a few stages, which, in my opinion, were rather only connections between the Karwendel Mountains and the Lechtal Alps than a must-do-trail. So I spent the night on the Wolfratshauser Hut and started my first stage as usual early in the morning. In the beginning, everything went as planned and I covered a good distance, even so good, that I took out my book at the slopes above the Blindsee and, after having a quick breakfast, read for about thirty minutes in my book. Then I moved on over the Fernpass down to the Fernsteinsee Castle. There I found the turnoff towards the next hut. And now everything got a bit more adventurous. At first, I realized that I haven’t read the stage’s description properly. Only there I figured out that the next hut was a bring-your-own-supply hut. No problem about the supply, I had a lot in my backpack, but a problem about getting into the hut, as those self-supply huts require a key to get into and, who would’ve thought it, I did not have the key. Being a bit irresolute I first wrote a mail to the alpine club section which the hut belonged to whether the hut would be occupied tonight and if there was still one more space, however, I didn’t really expect to get an answer soon. It’s still been early that day, so I started to do some research on other possibilities to spend the night. And, look, there was another privately serviced hut about four hours further on the Eagle Walk. According to the Internet, they had some bunk beds and would service that hut until Mid-September. Alright, it’s still early: next goal: Tarrentonalm.

 

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Without a further doubt, I paced up the slopes to the Lorea Hut, which I intended to stay at, and moved past it further up the slopes to the Lorea Wind Gap. It took me about one hour from the hut to get there and for the first time, my view faded over the summits of the Lechtal Alps. This, I didn’t expect to see and I was speechless about the rugged landscape. Also, my excitement for the next days rose more and more. But at first, I had to move on to the next hut, which was still almost three hours away. So I descended into the next valley and followed it for quite a while to reach my goal. Honestly, this was a rather long stage in the end and therefore I was pretty exhausted when I got to the Tarrentonalm at about 6 pm.

 

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But not enough, another surprise waited for me. Even from afar I could already see that there were basically no people there at the hut, only one single young guy sat there with his dog in a camping chair next to his car and drank a beer. Well, let’s ask what’s going on here. To this question, the young man answered to my blank horror, that the owners already finished their season. There was nothing about that on the Internet! For me, this meant to either walk another three hours, which I didn’t want to think of or to stay somewhere there. This guy, David was his name, then comforted me a little bit and first got me a beer as well. I would need a break anyways. And, to my great luck, he offered me to stay at his hut. And I figured out he was a herdsman during the summer months and lived, among 150 oxen, on a hut nearby. By car this hut would be accessible quickly, he promised to me. The reason why I met this guy down there in the valley was that he was busy chopping firewood for his own supply when he realized that some of the swine from the Tarrentonalm had run away, so he and his dog Paulo herded them back into a cage and let the owners know. So now he was currently waiting for the owners to show up and drive the swine down from the hut into the next settlement. Well, without this unexpected escape of the swine I would not have met David and would’ve been completely lost in this situation. So, thank God. After the owners of the hut picked up the swine, me, David and Paulo set off in his car towards his hut on the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The hut itself lay beautifully in a grassy comb and was not even directly accessible with the car. The last 200 meters we had to climb by foot over the alpine meadows where the cows grazed, only for his supply he had a small cable car installed. After this final climb, I was rather dazzled about the nice hut David had up there. Larger than I expected, even with some extra mattresses on the floor to sleep at. These were earlier used by a whole company of herdsmen that used to live up there back in the days. By now there was also electricity available for light, radio, and cellphone, provided by a small solar panel as well as a washroom with toilet and shower, yet this only had warm water when the fire stove heated up the water storage. In general, only firewood could be used to cook, and as it was already late and we were both hungry, we prepared a nice light meal. Bacon, sausages, cheese, and bread as a side. Everything came from local farmers and we really had plenty. This was the best that I could get this evening, nothing else I would’ve taken over this. How beautiful Davids hut was actually situated I then figured out when the daylight slowly failed and the sun, setting behind us, cast a wonderful orange light on the surrounding summits. Later on, David pressed me to get out once more to gaze at the astonishing, starry night sky. Time literally flew by this evening as I had so many questions for David. The decision to live such a life really impressed me and was proof the usually ‚less is more‘. Few people have I met before that seemed to be so happy and content and I promised David to visit him again in the future, whether during summer on his hut or during the rest of the year when he was living close to Innsbruck and worked his normal job as an electronic technician. The next morning I used the fact of having a whole mattress floor for my own to get some extra sleep before we met for breakfast only at nine o’clock on the sunlit patio. After that, it was time for farewell, as still there was a great distance for me to cover on that day. So, in the end, I plodded down the cow pasture back to the gravel road, only my backpack came down with the small transport cable car this morning. Coming to the bottom I picked it up and heaved it on my back and with one last view upon Davids hut I turned back to my mission. 

 

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After a couple of great passages past some steep rock walls and the sighting of a group of marmots, I arrived at the Anhalter Hut, which would’ve been the end of the second stage. However, as I already got so far the day before there was still enough time today to make another stage. After hiking along several more hours through this great landscape I reached the Hanauer Hut in the early evening. There I ordered a great meal of cheese spaetzles and during this dinner, I also got to know Johannes and Max which I spontaneously joined for the next days’ stage. 

 

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We started this next stage a bit earlier again as there was a lot of sunshine predicted and temperatures would rise soon. Quickly we left the valley at which’s end the Hanauer Hut Lay and passed the wind gap towards another valley, in which we found the magnificent Stein-Lake. After some short rest at its shore, we hiked on, passed the Steinsee-Hut and followed the long ridgeway through one wind gap after another. From time to time we could gaze south towards the grand summits of the Stubai- and Ötztal-Alps. The whole time we found ourselves mostly in gravel pits and on sections secured with steel cables which was pretty exhausting in the bare sun. Despite that, we still reached the Wuerttemberger House in the early afternoon, which was a lovely hut built in a wonderful setting on the slopes of the valley just below a mountain lake. Having a beer as a reward we spent the last hours of sunlight on the patio and relaxed our sore muscles until in the evening we had supper together. Some solid goulash soup, before we went to bed again. The next day would prove another challenge for the success of my trip, as the weather was predicted to turn bad again.

 

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Therefore, I had an uneasy sleep, even though that could also be caused by the small beds that didn’t really fit my size. Still, I woke up early at around 6 am and was super motivated to get far on this day before the weather would change. So having said goodbye to Johannes and Max I hiked on, once more, on my own, enjoying the morning. The sun was still low when I reached the first ridge. Up there, the view completely blew my mind. Such a great vista of the Lechtal Alps in the morning light I would’ve never expected. Even more motivated I paced on over summits and high ridges of the high route until I reached the intersection with the famous E5 long-distance trail, which was rather high frequented. Luckily I only had to share this route only for a few kilometers until I would turn off at the Memminger Hut again. Still, even this part of the eagle walk went through some terrific landscapes with magnificent mountain lakes in huge gravel combs. The Memminger Hut, once more, was the actual goal of today’s stage, yet you can probably already imagine that I was still motivated for more. It was only two hours before noon. Seriously, who has planned those daily stages? They really must’ve been slacking around! 

 

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As the weather still seems to hold I kept on moving to challenge another stage. And it kept being adventurous. At first, I had to descend a long way into the valley behind the Memminger Hut only to face once again another long and dreadful ascend towards the next wind gap. And then happened what I was afraid of last night: The rain kicked in. The first shower I luckily could endure under a cliff that bode me shelter, however, the second time it poured down on me when I was just at the steepest and trickiest part of the whole ascent towards the Grießlscharte, a wind gap at over 2600 meters elevation. Covered in all my ranger I fought myself up along the steel cables over the bare rocks, ripped open my finger at one of the cables and still made it safe to the top without any further harm. As a reward for those woes behind me, the sun now peeked through the clouds and there was a great rainbow visible. Also, from this point on the trail, I could see the big glaciers of the Hoher Riffler Mountain for the first time. After passing this ridge the walk to the Ansbacher Hut was easy going and quickly done. Again, one more day was over and there were two fewer stages to finish. I really came further quickly. 

 

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Not the day afterward, but this was actually planned. The weather was rainy and after the long previous day, I only planned to do a short stage. Only about four and a half hours I plodded along the trail and enjoyed the several views on the Vorder- and Hinter-Lake. And as usual, I got caught by that one obligatory rain shower, which demotivated me, however, the rain moved away as fast as it came and everything was fine again. On this day I reached the Kaiserjoch House already after lunch and at first, really enjoyed a talk with a family that I met up there. They were as obsessed with skiing as I am and they did know Revelstoke, which they visited together with Hagen Alpin Tours. What a coincidence, with Hagen Alpine Tours I would be in Revelstoke this winter as well. After this talk characterized by enthusiasm, I finally had the whole afternoon for myself to read in my book. In the common room of the hut, I made myself comfortable next to the stove and read all the way through until dinner. That was some earned regeneration, I would say! A strengthening for the last stage.

 

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For that one, I made one last early start, even though the weather presented itself once more greyish with some drizzling rain. Still, I had to finish this last stage, otherwise, my ego would’ve suffered greatly, so close to the end of the Eagle Walk. For a long time, the weather stayed like this, from time to time it even got worse and I had to wear my full lot of rain gear. And I had absolutely no idea about how my environment looked like, as I could barely see more than 50 meters through the dense clouds around me. One last time I had to climb a technical section along a steep rock wall, then, out of nothing, the ski area of St. Anton appeared before me. And, look, the clouds suddenly disappeared and I couldn’t get out of my rain equipment quick enough before sweating again. Altogether this turned out to be another successful day and a pretty neat finish of the trail, even though the last part went through that huge ski area which was ugly to watch during summertime.

The grand final! Out of the clouds the ski area of St. Anton appeared. I made it!

At around noon I reached St. Christoph at the Arlberg, the official end of the Eagle Walk! I’ve done it! What e pleasure! And still, I had to get back to Munich. Erm… yeah… I just missed the bus by ten minutes and the next one down to St. Anton only cami in two hours. So having no better option I just tried hitchhiking and caught the jackpot. After only a few minutes a young couple stopped and offered me a ride to the train station in St. Anton. Even better, during that drive, I figured out that they were on their way to Innsbruck to visit the Climbing World Cup and they agreed to take me all the way to Innsbruck instead. That was just perfect for me, as from there I could comfortably take the cheap bus to Munich. One can definitely say that everything went better than expected… and faster! Only six days it took me to finish those eight stages. I guess that was a neat journey. Time for new challenges!

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