Trip: Austrian Alps - Stubai High Trail
Trip Date: 09/05/2023
Over 20 years ago I had personal blog with custom domain name, and posted pictures of what I had going (hiking, climbing, having a kid, etc) and one day I got an email from some Austrian who was looking for a part for his company from a US business that had a domain name similar to my blogs domain name. We had a ton in common, including to him just having a kid as well. Anyway, we chatted a bit and then just stayed in touch over the years, till last year. My son was doing a quarter in Rome, and so I suggested they might meet if it worked out. Turns out his daughter was working and an au pair in Milan, and so they ended up hanging out and then after his quarter was over my son travelled around Europe for a while, ending his trip with a visit to my Austrian friend's home in a little village in the Austrian Alps.
I figured it was high time I pay him a visit myself, and so I bought the plane tickets. We weren't sure how to spend my time there, but I suggested hut hiking as I'd never done that. He suggested the Stubai High Trail. So well after 20 years of our first contact a I showed up in Munich and he picked me up.
He had to work the first day I was there, so while he worked, I walked from his house over to a trail and climbed the mountain you could see from his kitchen window. I was a great warm up and introduction to hiking the alps, a trail up into the alpine, with a little scrambling, a cable to two, and then a cross at the top....and an insanely beautiful view below. On the hike back down I tore the crap of my feet, getting blisters all over my feet from my climbing boots. After this we went and bought a part of Scarpa approach shoes which I used instead, as we figured out that we wouldn't actually need mountaineering boots for the peaks we would try.
We drove to Innsbruck and bought ourselves some jaunty Tirolian hats, and then headed up to Neustift im Stubaital. We parked the car and headed up to the first hut, which gave me an opportunity to get into shape. Was redlining behind my Austrian Machine. Thom is pretty fit, for his 45th birthday he ran in the mountains, doing 26 miles a day for 10 days in row, running from his parent's old village to his own. Our hike that day was only 5k, but gain 4000ft in elevation. The first hut is the Starkenburger Hütte, and as became our custom we celebrated with a couple cold beers. The views from the hut were awesome.
The next day, as we tried to do every day, we beat all the rest of our hut-mates to the trail. We climbed some peaks: Gamskogel 2659m, Steinkogel 2589m, Marchsaule 2598m, and Schwarzhorn 2818. These were gained with hiking or minor scrambling. We then dropped back down to the main trail, stopping for a beer and lunch at a sheep herders hut.
Then we continue up the valley, which had impressively steep slopes at parts. At one point I was going through a steep gulley which obviously rockfall and heard crack! and saw a grapefruiit sized rock just graze my foot...I was lucky. We continued to Franz-Senn Hutte, which was one of my favorite.
The next day we went Franz-Senn Hutte to Neue Regensburger Hutte, which seems out a movie set with a big waterfall just below it. That day we also climbed Östliche Knotenspitze, which is 3101m. It seemed improbable with no gear, but with a few strategic cables and then lots of narrow ledges and some scrambling it went fine.
The next day we went from Neue Regensburger to Dresdner Hutte. The Dresdner is located right on a ski run right below the glaciers above.
From the Dresdner to the Sulzenauhütte (where we had lunch) to Nürnberger Hütte was the best day for me, though there was not a bad day at all...they were all special and awesome. On this day we went over yet another pass, going by a huge amount big cairns or "hippy stacks" an incredible view of a canyon below that used to house a glaceir as late at the 1950s, but now there is a just a lake....the glaciers had retreated to well above the lake. There was a massive wall of a moraine below.
Then down to the Sulzenauhütte and up by the beautiful blue lake....named "Blue Lake". Over a pass we headed down to the Nürnberger Hütte which was another favorite.
The next day we went from the Nürnberger to the Bremer Huttle and climbed Innere Wetterspitze at 3053m, which was great fun. The views up there were amazing.
The day after that we headed to Innsbrucker Hutte. Our intention was to climb Habicht, another 3000+m peak, but it there was thunder and rain in the morning so the next day we headed up.
I can't begin to convey how fun this trip was. My friend Thomas is the nicest guy you could meet. I might as well have been climbing a with a guide (he actually was guide for a while), but what was the best was having a local who pointed out all the local flora and fuana, history, and translate German for me, and basically arranged everything.
We saw plenty of herd of goats and sheep high in the alpine trying to escape the heat. This is the time of year they normally bring them down, but it was still so warm they didn't want to come down yet. We saw a pair of Stienbock, which as very cool, and then smell and eventually saw another one that was dead along the trail. We ran into a lot of other Europeans, and shared some of our time on the trail with a couple from Portland. The company and food in the huts was great save the vegetarian fare they served at the Regensburger Hutte, which came out of me in a 3 second burst just below the steep pass you go through to get out of there. I felt immediately better after.
The scenery is quite amazing. It is alarming to see how much the glaciers there have receded, they could be gone in 10 years.
I took so many photos and videos. Here a few photos.
silk sleeping bag liner. approach shoes. no tent, stove, etc...
south of Innsbruck