From hut to hut in the heart of the Zillertal nature park
The film “Der Weg ist das Ziel” (“The Journey is the Destination”), which was filmed at the same time as Markus Kröll’s record-breaking run, shows incredible shots of the unique landscape and peaks of the Zillertal and Tux Alps. However, I would recommend taking the 95km long trail at a somewhat more leisurely pace! It would be a shame not to take the time to appreciate the spectacular nature or stop and enjoy the historic huts.
A HUT AT THE END OF EVERY STAGE
The Berliner Höhenweg is divided into eight stages. At the end of each stage, you can look forward to a warm welcome in an alpine hut. The eight huts along the trail are all worth visiting and should definitely be planned into your hike. Read on for an overview of each hut.
Top tip: The best time for hiking the Berliner Höhenweg is from mid-July to mid-September. The huts are also open between these dates.
Gamshütte - 1,916 m
The rustic Gamshütte has dormitory accommodation for 38 people. 15 beds are in a custom-built outhouse dormitory. Although the hut has been modernized in recent years and has solar power, the star attraction is still the cold water shower in front of the hut. In keeping with its name, the sitting room is decorated with two Gams (chamois).
Highlight: I heartily recommend the traditional bacon dumpling with Sauerkraut.
Friesenberghaus - 2,498 m
This stone hut lies at 2,498m and has a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I am especially impressed by the regional specialties which are freshly prepared here every day despite the altitude and challenge of getting ingredients to the hut.
Top tip: There’s a climbing wall just ten minutes’ walk from the hut – a rockface to the left of the hiking trail Riffler/Petersköpfl – with 17 routes ranging from a difficulty level of 3 to 9.
Olpererhütte - 2,389 m
“Welcome to 2,389m above the ordinary!”, is how landlady Katharina welcomes me to the Opererhütte. I sit at a table in front of the panorama window, drinking in the views of the beautiful mountains as I enjoy some delicious, local food.
Highlight: Relaxing on the south-facing terrace with views onto the Schlegeis reservoir and feeling the warm sun on my face.
Furtschaglhaus - 2,295 m
The Furtschaglhaus lies at an altitude of 2,295m and, with120 beds, is quite a bit larger than most of the other huts. The warm showers are definitely a highlight of the hut! Before leaving for the next stage of my hike, I restore my energy on the south-facing terrace with views onto the highest peaks in the Ziller Valley, the Hochfeiler and the Große Möseler.
Top tip: The large playground behind the hut! Children are sure to enjoy the climbing frames and water play and, with a little luck, they might also spot a marmot.
Berliner Hütte - 2,042 m
Even from the outside, the largest hut on the Berliner Höhenweg is a real eye-catcher. It looks nothing like a traditional mountain hut but, clad in wood and shingles, looks more like a small castle. The grand exterior is continued inside the hut. High ceilings, frescos and historical paintings on the wall call to mind the early 20th century. I am fascinated by alpine museums! I especially loved the pine-paneled dining room. The hut can sleep 180 people in private rooms and dormitory accommodation.
Top tip: The extensive breakfast buffet is sensational.
Greizer Hütte - 2,227 m
As I recharge with a coffee and cake at the Greizer Hut at an altitude of 2,227m, I appreciate the traditional atmosphere of this alpine hut. A quick glance at the menu confirms that primarily regional produce is used in the hut food. In addition to a large dormitory, double and four-bed bedrooms are available for overnight stays. The surrounding land is perfect for children: ‘Haflinger’ ponies, goats and marmots make this hut a real experience for young hikers. The nearby climbing wall offers plenty of action and adventure with four fixed routes and two abseil points.
Top tip: Luggage can be transported to the hut by a goods cable car.
Kasseler Hütte - 2,178 m
The Kasseler Hut lies in the midst of a spectacular mountain landscape. And, it’s Kaiserschmarrn, a dish of rich, chopped-up pancake, is famous in the Ziller Valley. After enjoying this sweet treat, I sample the hut’s own schnapps – delicious! Overnight guests can choose between 22 beds in private rooms and 68 dormitory beds. Dog owners are also welcome to stay overnight with their pet in a private room with three beds.
Top tip: The climbing wall, created by climbing legend Peter Habeler, is perfect for training and improving your climbing.
Edelhütte - 2,238 m
This hut surprises me with its modern architecture and, curious about the reason for this, I ask the landlord, Sigi. He tells me that the original hut was completely destroyed by an avalanche in 1975 and was rebuilt three years later. The hut is ideally located, just two hours from the top station of the Ahorn cable car and has space for up to 80 people to stay overnight.
Top tip: By taking the Ahorn cable car, you can save yourself a considerable climb or descent.