Saturday, 15 June 2013

austria - intro and mountain walk

I've been transferring my Austria holiday diary notes from my notebook into my diary, putting here some random thoughts and details which I didn't transfer over there. We went in a flight and hotel package with Inghams, Saturday 25 May to Saturday 1 June, flights between Gatwick and Innsbruck, staying in the Sporthotel Xander in Kirchplatzl in the Leutasch valley. (This photo of the hotel with the church dome behind it was taken while we were there, if the Flickr date is to be believed.)

We had mixed weather (by the end of that week there was serious flooding in parts of Austria, Germany, Czech Republic; a month's rain in a day, that kind of thing), but we had a good time. If it hadn't been unseasonably bad then there wouldn't have been so much snow around.

Walking on a snowy path up a mountain (part of the large range behind our hotel, which formed the border with Germany) at around 1700m was one of the literal and metaphorical high-points of the holiday. The highest point of our walk was the Wettersteinhutte, marked on the map as 1717m; but the height on the map for our village was 1136m, so it's not like we went up from sea level (and the starting point of our walk was higher than the village, though we did walk all the way back down, a less interesting way). (Ben Nevis's height is 1344m; Munro threshold, 3000ft, is 914m.) From the map, I'd say we were walking up and around the south side of Rossberg from west to east, and that south side might be called Rotschrofen.

Our starting point was the bus stop at the end of the public road up the Leutascher Ache valley (forest track went further), then up path by Salzbach river till we met trail 41 and took it east (called on the map on this stretch 'Wurziger Steig') to the hut, where we did not stop but carried on down trail 9, which for most of the way was a windy road track. It was the Friday, our last full day, and it was raining pretty steadily, but we thought we might be sorry if we took a 'dry day' trip into a town we weren't that interested in, so we went for it. As we climbed, the rain turned to sleet, then to snow, which made it much drier, as it didn't soak into us so much (though we were still sodden when we got home, not least because of the trudge home); there was no snow on the ground or trees at our starting height, but we gradually got into it, and for the last twenty or thirty minutes of our walk up we were walking on a snow-covered path, which I don't think I've ever done on a hill before. It never reached the stage where we felt we were taking an unnecessary risk, though; but we did abandon our half-thought of going on a little further up beyond the hut to a small, higher top. The trickiest bit was the start of the track back down, actually, which was covered in snow and slippier because smoother (and steeper). As it happened, there was an organised walk on that day which we were too late to sign up for, and which in any case it turned out under 12s weren't allowed on; we met them just as we started down from the hut, it turned out they were doing the same route in reverse; it was probably for the best that we had done our own thing, as we could go at our own pace especially without feeling any pressure that little legs were keeping anyone back, which wouldn't have been helpful. In fact we were very proud of the little legs and how they did.