A Fast & Soiled Information to the Berlin Excessive Path

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The Berlin Excessive Path (Berliner Höhenweg in German) is an ambulatory gem of the Zillertal Alps and one in every of Austria’s most interesting multi-day treks. Throughout its oscillating course, hikers will traverse breathtaking passes and deep glacial valleys, whereas having fun with dramatic views of jagged granite peaks and shimmering alpine lakes. I accomplished the Berliner Höhenweg in mid-October 2019, as a part of an prolonged journey within the Alps. It was the final of 4 excessive trails I did throughout the Austrian leg of the journey; the others being the Stubaier Höhenweg (see Journey Report/Information), Schladming Tauern Höhenweg, and the Wormser Höhenweg.

Overlooking the Schlegeisspeicher Reservoir from the path between Friesenberg and Olperer Huts.

Notice: The knowledge under is basically directed in direction of impartial hikers, quite than people going as a part of organized trekking teams. 

At a Look

Distance:  86 km (53 mi)

Common Length:  7 to 9 days (see How Lengthy will it Take? for particulars)

Issue Degree:  Reasonable to demanding

Complete Elevation Acquire: 6,605 m (21,670 ft)

Begin:  Finkenberg

End:  Mayrhofen 

Excessive Level: Schönbichler Scharte (3,081 m/10,108 ft)

Which route?: I don’t assume it issues an excessive amount of. The Cicerone information books referenced under describe the path in a clockwise route, whereas helpful native web sites reminiscent of Tirol.at element the trail in a counter-clockwise route (which is the way in which I did it).

What’s in a Title?: The Berlin Excessive Path is often known as the Zillertal Rucksack Route and Zillertaler Runde Tour. For the needs of this text, I selected to go along with ‘Berlin Excessive Path’ because it appears to be essentially the most generally used title in Austria, together with on Mayrhofen’s and Tyrol’s official web sites. For customers of the Cicerone Information books talked about under, notice that in “Strolling in Austria” it’s known as the Zillertal Hohenweg, whereas in “Trekking within the Zillertal Alps” it’s referred to as the Zillertal Rucksack Route.

Overview map of the path (as seen in Cicerone Press, Trekking within the Zillertal Alps)

Getting There & Away:

  • The transport hub of the Zillertal Valley is the village of Mayrhofen, which is serviced by common bus (2 hrs) and prepare companies (1.5 hrs) from the close by metropolis of Innsbruck (the capital of the Tyrol area). From Mayrhofen to Finkenberg, you may both stroll (4.5 km/2.8 mi) or take bus #4104.

Placing the pose in downtown Innsbruck.

Season:

  • The mountaineering season within the Austrian Alps is usually between late June to mid/late September. In a median climate 12 months, September is right. The college vacation crowds are gone, the summer time thunderstorms (usually brief) have subsided, temperatures are cooler, and the mountain huts are much less crowded. 
  • Low season: Relying on the snow ranges and expertise of the aspirant, the Berlin Excessive Path can be completed within the late spring or early to mid-fall. When mountaineering at these occasions, it’s possible you’ll require an ice axe and traction units. Notice that the full-service huts are closed at these occasions, so you will want to hold your whole personal meals and maybe a tent/tarp (Notice: A lot of the huts have small winter rooms (“winterraums” in German) that stay open throughout the low season. See Lodging under for particulars).
  • Personally Talking: The Berlin Excessive Path was the final of my multi-day journeys within the Austrian Alps. I hiked it in mid-October, 2019 and other than a holidaying Russian mountain information on the Olperer Hutte, I didn’t meet another ramblers alongside the way in which. Because of a long-standing aversion to crowds, I usually choose to hike in style trails such because the BHT within the low season, and am keen to just accept the chance of tougher situations in alternate for the reward of solitude. Within the case of the Berlin Excessive Path, I acquired all that I bargained for and extra on the meteorological entrance, within the type of persistent freezing rain, snow, and icy situations for a lot of the second half of the path. Temperatures throughout the hike ranged between 12°C (54°F) and -9°C (16°F).

The venerable Berliner Hütte (2,042 m) is the biggest mountain hut within the Tyrol area and dates again to the late 1870s. Sadly, it was closed throughout my go to, however its cozy and splendidly dry winter room (situated on the opposite aspect of the primary constructing) was open.

Planning Data 

  • Guidebooks: Cicerone Press publish two books that cowl the Berlin Excessive Path. Strolling in Austria provides a bare-bones account of the path, whereas Trekking within the Zillertal Alps has a way more detailed abstract of the famed hut-to-hut route, together with trekking notes, primary maps for every part, aspect journeys/alternates strategies, distance and time estimates, and logistical data on attending to and from the path. Each books can be found in Kindle model or paperback.

Nearing Friesenberg Haus, late afternoon on Day 1 (the one clear day of my hike).

  • Language:  German. Nearly everybody you meet that’s below 60 years outdated will communicate English, nonetheless, just a few easy phrases and phrases of the native tongue will all the time be appreciated by locals.
  • Cell/Cellular Telephone Protection: I are inclined to maintain my cellphone in flight mode whereas out within the woods, however from what I can collect, throughout mountaineering season some (although not all) of the huts on the Berlin Excessive Path have Wifi/cell reception, together with the chance to cost your cellphone and/or battery pack whether or not you’re overnighting, or simply stopping in for breakfast or lunch.
  • Money or Card?:  The entire huts have been closed after I did the BHT, nonetheless, evidently throughout the mountaineering season (as of 2022) a few of the path’s refuges’ don’t settle for digital cost. Simply to make certain, strive calling or emailing the huts at which you propose to remain beforehand, or alternatively, convey alongside ample money to cowl your prices for the journey.

Friesenberg Haus overlooking a small alpine lake.

Resupply & Water:

  • Meals:  There aren’t any villages alongside the Berlin Excessive Route, however meals are by no means onerous to return by throughout the mountaineering season as the entire huts are full service. It is usually potential to buy snacks and sandwiches to go.
    1. Breakfast – Often served from round 6 to eight am. Continental-style, consisting of bread/butter/jam and low or tea.
    2. Lunch – Often served from noon to 2 pm, although it will probably range from hut to hut. Order as a lot as you want from the menu. Beer and wine can be found.
    3. Dinner – Principal meal of the day and often served between 6 pm and seven.30 pm. The set-dinner possibility is well-priced, ample in dimension, and may as soon as once more be washed down together with your alternative of grownup drinks.
    4. Prices: Most people that in a single day on the huts go for the “half pension” possibility, which consists of dinner, mattress, and breakfast for between €45 and €55. Lunch is all the time à la carte.
    5. Low season: If you’re desirous about mountaineering out of season, you’ll have to carry all your individual provides from begin to end. If you’re lucky – it occurred to me on three separate events throughout my time in Austria – pleasant locals might have left some beers within the Winter Rooms. 
  • Water: Available all through the hike. It will possibly both be obtained on the huts or from streams alongside the way in which. Throughout my time within the Alps, I usually drank immediately from sources and had no intestinal points. The exception was if I used to be acquiring water downstream from huts or grazing animals, during which case I handled with Aquamira drops.

Ascending in direction of Schoenbichler Scharte (3,081m) from Furtschaglkal Haus.

Route / Situations:

  • Overview:  Throughout the summer time months the Berlin Excessive Path is a average to demanding trek. It contains greater than 13,000 m (42,651 ft) of mixed altitude achieve and loss, and through its course, hikers will negotiate excessive passes, uncovered traverses, boulder fields, and steep scree slopes. The path is effectively marked with splashes of crimson/white paint, and main junctions are signposted. A few of the steeper sections are tackled with assistance from fastened cables (see photograph under). The cable sections might be discovered on the next levels (mountaineering in a counter-clockwise route): 1. Furtschagl Haus to Berliner Hut; 2. Berliner Hut – Greizer Hut; 3. Greizer Hut – Kasseler Hut, and; 4. Kasseler Hut – Karl von Edel Hut. On the part between Berliner Hut and Greizer Hut there’s additionally a brief ladder part that must be negotiated.
  • If mountaineering throughout the shoulder seasons do I want traction units, an ice axe, or another specialised gear?:  Throughout my October hikes within the Alps I didn’t carry an ice axe, however I did use Salewa mountain spikes (much like Kathoola Microspikes) and was very glad to have them for a few of the icy excessive sections. Additionally on the footwear entrance, I periodically wore a mix of merino wool socks and Montbell Gore-tex All Spherical Socks below my path trainers. I’d undoubtedly go along with the identical system once more if I used to be to return to the Alps within the spring or fall (Notice: Relying on situations, I’d take into account carrying an ice axe as effectively; notably if tackling a few of the beneficial aspect journeys talked about within the Cicerone Information).

Descending from Schoenbichler Scharte, the very best level on the Berlin Excessive Path.

  • How Lengthy will it take?: Within the “At a Look” part I point out that the common period of a BHT hike is 7 to 9 days. That mentioned, the period of time wanted can range significantly relying on various elements. Match and skilled ramblers carrying a light-weight pack and who’ve an excellent run with the climate, can comfortably do the journey in 4 or 5 days (Notice: The longer daylight of summer time would clearly assistance on this entrance).
  • Highlights: I’m not the most effective individual to reply this query, as I had inclement situations for a lot of the journey. Nonetheless, I loved the expertise, and my favourite sections have been the brief stretch between Friesenberg and Olperer Huts, and the icy, knife-edge descent from Schoenbichler Scharte.

A sprinkling of fall colors on a uniformly overcast day.

Sleeping

  • Mountain Huts: Just about all hikers on the Berlin Excessive Path keep within the mountain huts. These regularly-spaced refuges often boast unbelievable areas, are usually open from mid-June to mid/late September, and together with in a single day lodging, provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As referenced above, the most effective worth can often be discovered within the half-board provide, which consists of a three-course dinner, a mattress, and breakfast for between 45 and 55 Euros (as of 2022). Notice that people affiliated with sure different European Alpine or Mountain golf equipment (e.g. UK, German, French) get pleasure from reciprocal rights.
  • Continued – Mountain Huts: Throughout the peak season months of July and August, lodging ought to ideally be booked prematurely (three to 4 weeks is beneficial); this particularly holds true if you’re mountaineering in a bunch. For many of the huts, you may select between bunking down in a shared dormitory or non-public room. Mountaineering in a counter-clockwise route, the lodging choices alongside the path are as follows: 1. Gamshütte; 2. Friesenberghaus; 3. Olpererhütte; 4. Furtschaglhaus; 5. Berliner Hütt; 6. Greizerhütte; 7. Kasseler Hütte, and; 8. Edelhütte
  • Is Wild Tenting Doable within the Austrian Alps?: Formally talking………….it’s sophisticated. There isn’t any “everyman’s proper/freedom to roam” in Austria, and alpine zone tenting rules can range considerably between states. The Berlin Excessive Path is situated within the Tyrol area. In keeping with the Austrian Alpine Membership, tenting outdoors of official campsites in Tyrol is prohibited, aside from “for a brief time period when required by the event.” Earlier than wild campers get too excited, the web site additionally states that “deliberate bivouacking is equated with staying in a tent! Violations may end up in fines of as much as 14,500 euros, relying on the federal state.” In actuality, I think if you happen to have been to remain effectively away from huts and farms, arrange simply earlier than darkish in a stealthy spot, go away at daybreak the subsequent day, and diligently observe LNT ideas always, you’d be unlikely to have any points. Click on right here for an in depth overview of the tenting scenario in Austria.
  • Winter Rooms (“winterraums”): Though I did carry a shelter on the Berlin Excessive Path, I ended up spending all of my nights within the winter rooms. These little sanctuaries are a godsend on the finish of an extended day in tough situations. They’re usually an annex to the primary hut and stay open all 12 months spherical.

Trying again in direction of the Furtschagl Haus

Mid-morning break on the Furtschagl Haus winter room.

View from the Olperer winter room.

Ultimate Ideas on the BHT

To some extent, my journey on the Berlin Excessive Path was outlined by the climate. On the primary day, I had clear skies, little wind, and cozy temperatures. On Day 2, issues began to deteriorate, although visibility was principally good aside from both aspect of Schoenbichler Scharte cross. On the third day, situations turned to shit, and for a lot of the time, I hiked in freezing rain, snow, and driving wind. Apart from after I took a break on the Greizer Hut’s winter room, I didn’t cease for greater than a minute or two. As for the fourth and last day, it was a carbon copy of Day 3.

I notice that to most hikers, the second half of my journey sounds prefer it was depressing. And on one or two events, I might need even vented my displeasure to the climate gods with language so vibrant, that it will have made the solid of Deadwood blush. With that admission out of the way in which, and as crazy as it could sound, I really get pleasure from mountaineering in such situations.

Don’t get me flawed; I’m not a whole nutter. I wouldn’t need to do it on a regular basis. However I’ve all the time figured that if you happen to’ve received the suitable gear, abilities, health, a constructive mindset, and an ironic sense of humour, then mountaineering in such climate is a problem price embracing. It exhibits what you’re able to within the backcountry when push involves shove. In my very own case, through the years I’ve discovered that my focus lasers in, and I adapt my tempo in order that hour after hour I stay in a gradual zone whereby I’m not pushing so onerous that I sweat excessively, however on the similar time I’m not dropping my mountaineering velocity sufficient that I’m liable to changing into chilly and doubtlessly hypothermic. And if my thoughts ever begins to wander or unfavorable ideas creep in, I invariably consider my household, repeat a constructive mantra, or recall a joke from my previous, and earlier than you may say, “!#*% me, will this #!%&@*!# rain ever cease!“, I’m again on monitor once more.

So, thanks Berlin Excessive Path. I couldn’t have requested for a extra memorable strategy to wrap up my Alpine journey of 2019.

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