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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 all 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 through 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.

Be aware: The data under is basically directed in the direction of impartial hikers, reasonably 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:  Average to demanding

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

Begin:  Finkenberg

End:  Mayrhofen 

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

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

What’s in a Identify?: The Berlin Excessive Path is also called the Zillertal Rucksack Route and Zillertaler Runde Tour. For the needs of this text, I selected to go together 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, word that in “Strolling in Austria” it’s known as the Zillertal Hohenweg, whereas in “Trekking within the Zillertal Alps” it’s known 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 practice providers (1.5 hrs) from the close by metropolis of Innsbruck (the capital of the Tyrol area). From Mayrhofen to Finkenberg, you’ll be able to both stroll (4.5 km/2.8 mi) or take bus #4104.

Putting the pose in downtown Innsbruck.

Season:

  • The climbing season within the Austrian Alps is usually between late June to mid/late September. In a median climate yr, September is right. The college vacation crowds are gone, the summer season 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 will also be performed within the late spring or early to mid-fall. When climbing at these occasions, you could require an ice axe and traction units. Be aware that the full-service huts are closed at these occasions, so you will want to hold all your personal meals and maybe a tent/tarp (Be aware: Many of the huts have small winter rooms (“winterraums” in German) that stay open through 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 every other ramblers alongside the way in which. Attributable to a long-standing aversion to crowds, I usually choose to hike standard trails such because the BHT within the low season, and am keen to simply accept the chance of more difficult situations in alternate for the present of solitude. Within the case of the Berlin Excessive Path, I obtained 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 through 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 (positioned on the opposite facet of the principle constructing) was open.

Planning Data 

  • Guidebooks: Cicerone Press publish two books that cowl the Berlin Excessive Path. Strolling in Austria offers 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, fundamental maps for every part, facet journeys/alternates options, 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. Virtually everybody you meet that’s below 60 years previous will communicate English, nonetheless, just a few easy phrases and phrases of the native tongue will at all times be appreciated by locals.
  • Cell/Cellular Telephone Protection: I are likely to hold my cellphone in flight mode whereas out within the woods, however from what I can collect, throughout climbing 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 might be overnighting, or simply stopping in for breakfast or lunch.
  • Money or Card?:  The entire huts had been closed after I did the BHT, nonetheless, plainly through the climbing season (as of 2022) a few of the path’s refuges’ don’t settle for digital fee. Simply to make sure, strive calling or emailing the huts at which you propose to remain beforehand, or alternatively, carry alongside adequate money to cowl your prices for the journey.

Friesenberg Haus overlooking a small alpine lake.

Resupply & Water:

  • Meals:  There are not any villages alongside the Berlin Excessive Route, however meals are by no means exhausting to come back by through the climbing season as all the huts are full service. It’s also attainable 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 might 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 normally served between 6 pm and seven.30 pm. The set-dinner choice is well-priced, ample in measurement, and might as soon as once more be washed down along with your alternative of grownup drinks.
    4. Prices: Most folk that in a single day on the huts go for the “half pension” choice, which consists of dinner, mattress, and breakfast for between €45 and €55. Lunch is at all times à la carte.
    5. Low season: In case you are eager about climbing out of season, you’ll have to carry all your individual provides from begin to end. In case you are lucky – it occurred to me on three separate events throughout my time in Austria – pleasant locals could have left some beers within the Winter Rooms. 
  • Water: Available all through the hike. It will probably both be obtained on the huts or from streams alongside the way in which. Throughout my time within the Alps, I usually drank instantly 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 the direction of Schoenbichler Scharte (3,081m) from Furtschaglkal Haus.

Route / Situations:

  • Overview:  Through the summer season months the Berlin Excessive Path is a reasonable to demanding trek. It consists of greater than 13,000 m (42,651 ft) of mixed altitude acquire and loss, and through its course, hikers will negotiate excessive passes, uncovered traverses, boulder fields, and steep scree slopes. The path is properly marked with splashes of crimson/white paint, and main junctions are signposted. Among the steeper sections are tackled with assistance from fastened cables (see picture under). The cable sections might be discovered on the next phases (climbing in a counter-clockwise course): 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 may be additionally a brief ladder part that must be negotiated.
  • If climbing through the shoulder seasons do I want traction units, an ice axe, or every other 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 together with the identical system once more if I used to be to return to the Alps within the spring or fall (Be aware: Relying on situations, I’d think about carrying an ice axe as properly; notably if tackling a few of the advisable facet journeys talked about within the Cicerone Information).

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

  • How Lengthy will it take?: Within the “At a Look” part I point out that the typical length of a BHT hike is 7 to 9 days. That stated, the period of time wanted can range enormously relying on a variety of elements. Match and skilled ramblers carrying a light-weight pack and who’ve a very good run with the climate, can comfortably do the journey in 4 or 5 days (Be aware: The longer daytime of summer season 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 had 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 normally boast unimaginable places, 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 normally 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). Be aware that people affiliated with sure different European Alpine or Mountain golf equipment (e.g. UK, German, French) take pleasure in reciprocal rights.
  • Continued – Mountain Huts: Through the peak season months of July and August, lodging ought to ideally be booked prematurely (three to 4 weeks is advisable); this particularly holds true if you’re climbing in a bunch. For a lot of the huts, you’ll be able to select between bunking down in a shared dormitory or non-public room. Mountain climbing in a counter-clockwise course, 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 Attainable within the Austrian Alps?: Formally talking………….it’s difficult. There isn’t a “everyman’s proper/freedom to roam” in Austria, and alpine zone tenting rules can range considerably between states. The Berlin Excessive Path is positioned within the Tyrol area. In line with the Austrian Alpine Membership, tenting outdoors of official campsites in Tyrol is prohibited, apart 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 can lead to fines of as much as 14,500 euros, relying on the federal state.” In actuality, I think for those who had been to remain properly away from huts and farms, arrange simply earlier than darkish in a stealthy spot, depart at daybreak the subsequent day, and diligently apply LNT rules 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 a protracted day in tough situations. They’re usually an annex to the principle hut and stay open all yr spherical.

Wanting again in the direction of the Furtschagl Haus

Mid-morning break on the Furtschagl Haus winter room.

View from the Olperer winter room.

Closing 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 largely good apart from both facet of Schoenbichler Scharte go. On the third day, situations turned to shit, and for a lot of the time, I hiked in freezing rain, snow, and driving wind. Aside 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 understand that to most hikers, the second half of my journey sounds prefer it was depressing. And on one or two events, I may need even vented my displeasure to the climate gods with language so vibrant, that it might have made the solid of Deadwood blush. With that admission out of the way in which, and as crazy as it could sound, I truly take pleasure in climbing in such situations.

Don’t get me mistaken; I’m not an entire nutter. I wouldn’t wish to do it on a regular basis. However I’ve at all times figured that for those who’ve bought the suitable gear, expertise, health, a constructive mindset, and an ironic sense of humour, then climbing 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, over time 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 exhausting that I sweat excessively, however on the identical time I’m not dropping my climbing velocity sufficient that I’m susceptible to turning into chilly and doubtlessly hypothermic. And if my thoughts ever begins to wander or damaging ideas creep in, I invariably consider my household, repeat a constructive mantra, or recall a joke from my previous, and earlier than you’ll be able to say, “!#*% me, will this #!%&@*!# rain ever cease!“, I’m again on observe 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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