There is something about walking in the company of Germans that brings out what frankly is a very wide competitive streak in my wife Christine. Worst still are young athletic German women - they send her flying up the mountain with me struggling breathless behind her.
Today all the above conditions applied and then some.
The walk was scheduled to take 6.30 minutes and involved 1250m of ascent and a climb over a pass. The weather forecast was poor but worse early on. There was fresh snow on the high ground and we had been warned that we would need to be careful. The sensible option was a late start.
|Leaving Lizumer Hütte and climbing the Geierjoch (2743m)|
At breakfast this morning the rain was pouring down, rain mixed with snow. The Germans however
were determined to set off at 7-30 as if the sun was shining and were very soon strung out up the mountain. By 8 visibility was still poor but
it had stopped raining and although it still made little sense we decided to set off.
|Final snowy approach to Geierjoch|
Of course none of 30 or so walkers ahead of us knew they were in for some sort of race. Nor did they realise that every time one of them was hauled in and overtaken that Christine extracted a fresh burst of energy that propelled her up the mountain. I say none but I suspect one knew. A blond woman in her twenties, dressed smartly in red and black, seemed to increase speed as Christine approached and as the path got steeper and the snow got deeper the two of them matched each other stride for stride. Eventually the strain got too much for the younger woman who, despite the cold was starting to overheat and had to stop to drop a layer. Showing no mercy the more experienced walker grabbed her chance, created a gap and broke the spirit of her younger adversary.
|Geierjoch - I think|
The one disadvantage of this pace was that as the numbers in front of us dwindled there were fewer footprints in the snow to show us the way. Very soon there was only one set of prints, a lone walker whose silhouette could occasionally be made out in the distance and whose sense of direction we were now dependent on.
After crossing the main snow covered pass, circumventing a large upland lake and traversing a wide highland meadow, all of which would have been stunning if the weather had been better, we climbed the final pass of the day. On the other side the mist was thicker than ever as we started a steep descent down a deeply gullied path that zigzagged down the mountain. Ahead of us was the last target, the lone unsuspecting German was now in Christine's sights and very soon he too had been shown a muddy pair of heels.
|Heading to the Gschützspitzsattel|
|Descent to the Weitental|
The main advantage of getting to the hut first is that you can be first to use the shower, and in this hut there was only one. After that the advantages dwindle. For the first time we are in the dreaded lager (dormitory) sharing it with 12 others. Because of speedy Christine we managed to get here by 12-40 completing the walk 1-50mins ahead of time. She is now gloating on the only decent bottom bunk bed in the lager.
|Mission accomplished - bottom bunk secured at the Tuxer Joch Haus|
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