A Gentle Start
On Friday afternoon, the competition winners were taken by taxi from the Naturparkhaus in the mountaineering village of Ginzling to the supply cable car of the Greizer Hut. From this point, the sisters followed a scenic trail up to the hut at an altitude of 2,227m.
Passing by babbling waterfalls and craggy cliff faces, the beautiful weather meant that there was plenty to see. “With its impressive mountains, Mayrhofen is so different to our home in the Mühlviertel (north-east Austria). Climbing mountains here is both challenging and breath-taking”, declared Kathi enthusiastically.
A Wild Welcome at the Greizer Hut
Of course, on arrival at the 123 year old hut, the girls were greeted with a tasty schnapps. What they hadn’t expected was the hut’s goats to accompany them towards the kitchen! “Our goats always let us know when it’s time to milk them”, explained the landlady with a twinkle in her eye.
To properly acclimatise to their new surroundings, Kathi and Luzia first relaxed and enjoyed the amazing views over the Zillertal Alps. After settling into their four-bed guest room, the sisters returned to the restaurant to spend some time in good company. In the busy hut, a jovial atmosphere and traditional music made for an entertaining evening.
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
The weather forecast for the following afternoon was not good, so an early breakfast was arranged for 5am. On the plus side, the girls were able to enjoy a spectacular sunrise over the Tyrolean mountains on their way to the Schwarzenstein peak. However, first they had to make their way across several scree fields; quite a challenge because of the wet conditions, but one which the girls met with real determination.
At the foot of the glacier, Kathi and Luzia found themselves in thick fog as they made the climb upwards. However, Luiza, who, like her sister, had never before stepped foot on a glacier, remained enthusiastic: “Crossing icefalls, snow fields and glacial crevasses with crampons was an amazing experience, even without great views. Thanks to their brand new Salewa clothing, they were able to cope well with the wintery conditions they encountered during the last metres of the climb.
On reaching the summit, Kathi and Luzia described feeling a mix of indescribable happiness and thankfulness. Whilst enjoying a hard-earned snack at the peak, they revelled in the moment before starting the (seemingly never-ending!) decent towards the Berliner Hut (2,044m). The unique flora and fauna of the Ziller Valley kept the sisters’ spirits high as they completed the final stage of their long trek.
Following in Harry Potter’s Footsteps
“Austrian mountain hut or an English fairy-tale castle?” – this was the first thought that crossed the minds of the competition winners as they arrived at the Berliner Hut just before 5pm. The unusual hut, protected by the alpine association, reminded Kathi and Luiza more of the Hogwarts boarding school from Harry Potter than a classic mountain hut.
Both exhausted and content, the girls enjoyed a delicious meal as torrential rain began to fall outside. The rainfall, which turned the small stream behind the hut into a gushing river, made the atmosphere inside the hut even cosier; perfect for an after-dinner game of cards.
Fortunately, on Sunday the rain abated. However, because of the wet conditions, full rain gear was needed once again. The light rain and the mystical clouds of fog and mist gave the rock and forests a special hue, showing the Ziller Valley mountains in another colour.
After two and a half hours of walking, Kathi and Luiza finally reached Breitlahner and took the bus back to their car. Both sisters were delighted with their successful weekend: “Every part of the hike was really special in its own way. It’ll take us a while to process all of the amazing experiences we’ve had this weekend.”