Dear Christine, sorry to be out of touch for a day or
last night I was just too knackered to engage my brain. Yesterday was one of those mad epic days I've inflicted on you in the past where the walking was wonderful but there was just too much of it. so but
|Amazing views of the Hintertux Glacier from the Gierjoch|
|Gerald my new walking buddy descending from Gierjoch|
I say we because for the next couple of days I'm walking with Gerald, the speedy young German I met yesterday. He is meeting his girlfriend in Pfunders the day after
tomorrow so also needs to save a day.
Leaving the Lizumer was completely different this year to last, no snow just blue skies and sun. We got to the first pass, the Gierjoch, a 600m climb in 90 minutes and were already 45 minutes ahead of schedule. We were walking with a German woman who then decided to leave us and climb another 200m to the top of the nearby Gier - I'm definitely keeping the wrong company.
|Definitely no snow!|
On the pass the views were amazing. Immediately below, at the bottom of a glacial bowl is the Junsee, a lake which today was deep blue. Beyond that, to the SE, grabbing all the attention was the Hintertux glacier and a ridge of 3000m plus mountains. In the distance, to
east I think we could see the Hohe Tauern and Austria's highest mountain the Grossglockner.
After the pass we descended along a narrow path across the bowl and up to the ridge on the other side. There was none of the previous winter's snow we encountered last
year although we did see a large herd of chamois finding something to eat on the sparse pickings on the side of the mountain. The other side of ridge is lush and green but the chamois seem to prefer a spartan Iife.
By the time I descended to the bottom of the next valley and climbed up to the
Tuxor Joch Haus I was feeling the heat. The officious woman from last year wasn't about, the food looked good, they had vacancies and to be honest the prospect of a long lazy afternoon was tempting. The sign said that the Geraer Hütte was 5/6 hours away so we knew we had a big afternoon.
|Tuxer Joch Haus - a hut with a view|
It's funny how going on a route not specified in the guide is just a little unnerving but it was. In
fact it was a lovely path, well defined, easy to follow and best of all quickly escapes the ugly ski runs you to have to cross on the standard route. The only trouble with it was, after a high intensity walk from the Lizumer, it was just too long.
For the first hour or so we followed a lovely pass south along the contours.
Worryingly we then started to lose height and descended through myrtle bushes loaded with dark blue berries into a deep valley. The inevitable climb followed and after nearly 500m to the pass, my pace had slowed to a crawl.
|Descending into a valley|
I was a bit nervous about what would happen next
with the map suggesting another loss of height and another climb. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as it looked and a rerouting kept the path high and closer to the remnants of a glacier descending from the Olperer which at 3476m is the highest mountain on the ridge. Soon we could see the Geraer Hütte and apart from a challenging traverse of a river swollen by glacial melt water the final gentle descent was easy.
|The glacier on Olperer|
The walk to the Geraer Hütte was excellent and I think I'll include it as a variant in the guide, an alternative to all those ski runs. Just hope the pass isn't too difficult.
The Geraer Hütte is a
nice with a great location at the end of a valley. There was a large party of excited teenagers and after a long conversation with a couple of German climbers, dinner and a shower I was in bed. Incidentally the 31 year old Gerald confessed that he was knackered as well so reassuringly I was the not only one who had suffered from a long day. Still it had it compensations and I enjoyed the best nights sleep of the trip so far.