Gasthof Valentinalm

Dear Christine, apologies for the lack of an update but for some reason I'm in the dark zone as far as WiFi or even telecommunications are concerned, it's very frustrating.  Occasionally I'll cross a pass or go round a corner and my phone will explode into life with queued up emails and texts only to go quite again minutes later. 
Austria's highest mountain
Well I'm making good progress and although today I'm not where I expected to be I'm discovering some really good stuff about the walk. 
Wonderful ridge walk
Three days ago I walked from Porzehütte to Hochweißsteinhaus, an 8 hour ridge walk which in many ways is the highlight of the first part of the trip.  The weather was perfect.  About half way along there is a little summit, the Hochspitz, and climbing to the top with Norman from Berlin and now three Austrian women (Anna, Emily and Sara) we enjoyed the most amazing views. The Hohe Taurn, immediately to the north was now covered in cloud but the Zillertaler Alps and Hochfieler further to the west were clearly visible, along with Marmolada and Mount Pelmo in the Dolomites. We could see at least half of the walk we did last year from Munich to Venice.
Mt Pelmo and Marmolada

The Hochweißsteinhaus was the hut we played three handed bridge with Maltese Paul when we stayed there last time.  Nice hut but like the Porzehütte a little primitive. 
More ridge walking
Next day our little band headed onto Wolayerseehütte another nice walk, alk butbut an inevitable anticlimax after the previous day's ridge walk. Can you remember the descent into a long valley, the remains of the First World War cable car system, including the cable which ran down the valley and then a tough climb up to a pass.  At the top of pass, amongst signs describing the bravery of an Italian Biciclista Battalion is a shallow lake where you and Maltese Paul went for a swim (Paul proving that it's not just the Germans who like to get naked). After the lake, and an all to brief upland walk the route crashes down again into another valley before climbing up to the Wolayerseehütte. 
Snow lingering on the north side of the ridge
Just like last time, the Wolayerseehütte came too soon to stop, it was only 2 o'clock. Although the hut has been upgraded since our last visit I didn't want to stay there all afternoon so decided to press on this time heading into Italy and onto the Rifugio Marinelli hut. 
Stables from the First World War
Sara came as well but the rest of little party stayed and like most Germans/Austrians didn't want to go any further east than the Plöckenpass. 
Good spot for a swim
As it turned out I was glad that Sara came with me. Having contoured around a narrow path on scree the route went almost vertically up a 250m rock and assisted by ladders and steel cables it was a climb which definitely fell into the exciting class. 
After you Sara

More testing times
After four Austrian huts the first Italian hut was a new experience. Situated high and at the end of a valley everyone, particularly the staff, were celebrating the near perfect location by drinking vast quantities of wine.  Already into his second bottle was a young German I had spent the evening with Obstansersee-hütte and he had been joined by another two German woman who were on there first trip in the mountains.  It was a very pleasant evening helped along by great food, beer, wine, snapps and grappa. I particularly liked comparison made by one of the German women between my looks and those of Sean Connery an interesting observation that has never been made before. Her astuteness possibly says much for effect of herb flavoured snapps and the herb she probably adding her roll ups. 
Not quick enough for my camera
Next morning I climbed  the Hohewart, the highest mountain in the Karnischer saying goodbye to Sara before I set off. I left my bag at the Refugio and the manageress said I could settle the bill when I returned.  The climb was a tough one, lots of very steep scree, and for once the weather failed me and clouds meant that I missed out on the legendary views of the 'whole of Europe'. 
Back at the hut and after a nice chat with a Italian accompanied by a Welsh Collie and his nephew from Philadelphia I settled the bill and was surprised to find that the drinks element which included 5 bottles of wine had been settled by the Germans. 
The best hut on the Karnischer
I had hoped to stay at Plöckenpass but unfortunately the restaurant there was no longer providing accommodation. The nearest hut on the Italian side was six hours away and after the Hohewart and the walk down to Plöckenpass this was just too far away.  There was nothing for it but to return to Austria and head west again to the Gasthof Valentinalm, somewhere where we stayed last time.  It took 90 minutes to get there and I'll have to retrace my steps tomorrow but I'm still on schedule to finish all the walking I want to do by the end of next week.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John, Great to hear from you and read the two posts. Glad all is going according to plan despite snow and ice interruptions. Odd thinking of snow with the sun blazing here and a force 16 southerly whipping up the waves (too dangerous even for me). I'm trying to figure which bit of your walk is what but all I can remember is the icy lake and starkers Maltese person. Is the steep climb with cables the black dot one we went up with the elderly female running down it? Good luck with the rest. Am drinking a pot of the tea we bought in Burma.