A Quick & Dirty Guide to the Berlin High Trail

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The Berlin High Trail (Berliner Höhenweg in German) is an ambulatory gem of the Zillertal Alps and considered one of Austria’s best multi-day treks. During 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 Trip Report/Guide), Schladming Tauern Höhenweg, and the Wormser Höhenweg.

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

Note: The info under is basically directed in the direction of unbiased hikers, relatively than people going as a part of organized trekking teams. 

At a Glance

Distance:  86 km (53 mi)

Average Duration:  7 to 9 days (see How Long will it Take? for particulars)

Difficulty Level:  Moderate to demanding

Total Elevation Gain: 6,605 m (21,670 ft)

Start:  Finkenberg

Finish:  Mayrhofen 

High Point: Schönbichler Scharte (3,081 m/10,108 ft)

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

What’s in a Name?: The Berlin High Trail 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 High Trail’ 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 Guide books talked about under, observe that in “Walking in Austria” it’s known as the Zillertal Hohenweg, whereas in “Trekking in 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.

Striking the pose in downtown Innsbruck.

Season:

  • The climbing season within the Austrian Alps is mostly between late June to mid/late September. In a median climate yr, September is good. The faculty vacation crowds are gone, the summer time thunderstorms (typically brief) have subsided, temperatures are cooler, and the mountain huts are much less crowded. 
  • Off-season: Depending on the snow ranges and expertise of the aspirant, the Berlin High Trail can be carried out within the late spring or early to mid-fall. When climbing at these instances, you might require an ice axe and traction units. Note that the full-service huts are closed at these instances, so you will want to hold your whole personal meals and maybe a tent/tarp (Note: Most of the huts have small winter rooms (“winterraums” in German) that stay open through the low season. See Accommodation under for particulars).
  • Personally Speaking: The Berlin High Trail 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. Due to a long-standing aversion to crowds, I typically choose to hike in style trails such because the BHT within the low season, and am prepared to simply accept the chance of more difficult situations in alternate for the reward of solitude. In the case of the Berlin High Trail, 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. Unfortunately, it was closed throughout my go to, however its cozy and splendidly dry winter room (situated on the opposite aspect of the principle constructing) was open.

Planning Information 

  • Guidebooks: Cicerone Press publish two books that cowl the Berlin High Trail. Walking 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, primary maps for every part, aspect journeys/alternates ideas, distance and time estimates, and logistical info on attending to and from the path. Both 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. Almost everybody you meet that’s beneath 60 years previous will communicate English, nevertheless, just a few easy phrases and phrases of the native tongue will all the time be appreciated by locals.
  • Cell/Mobile Phone Coverage: I are likely to maintain my telephone 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 High Trail have Wifi/cell reception, together with the chance to cost your telephone and/or battery pack whether or not you might be overnighting, or simply stopping in for breakfast or lunch.
  • Cash or Card?:  All of the huts have been closed after I did the BHT, nevertheless, evidently through the climbing season (as of 2022) among the path’s refuges’ don’t settle for digital cost. Just to make certain, strive calling or emailing the huts at which you propose to remain beforehand, or alternatively, deliver alongside ample money to cowl your prices for the journey.

Friesenberg Haus overlooking a small alpine lake.

Resupply & Water:

  • Food:  There aren’t any villages alongside the Berlin High Route, however meals are by no means onerous to return by through the climbing season as the entire huts are full service. It can also be potential to buy snacks and sandwiches to go.
    1. Breakfast – Usually served from round 6 to eight am. Continental-style, consisting of bread/butter/jam and occasional or tea.
    2. Lunch – Usually served from noon to 2 pm, although it might probably fluctuate 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 choice is well-priced, ample in dimension, and may as soon as once more be washed down together with your selection of grownup drinks.
    4. Costs: Most people 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 all the time à la carte.
    5. Off-season: If you have an interest in climbing out of season, you’ll have to carry all your personal provides from begin to end. If you might be 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: Readily obtainable all through the hike. It can both be obtained on the huts or from streams alongside the way in which. During my time within the Alps, I typically drank straight from sources and had no intestinal points. The exception was if I used to be acquiring water downstream from huts or grazing animals, through which case I handled with Aquamira drops.

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

Route / Conditions:

  • Overview:  During the summer time months the Berlin High Trail is a average to demanding trek. It consists of 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 pink/white paint, and main junctions are signposted. Some of the steeper sections are tackled with the help of mounted cables (see picture under). The cable sections may be discovered on the next phases (climbing in a counter-clockwise path): 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 another specialised gear?:  During my October hikes within the Alps I didn’t carry an ice axe, however I did use Salewa mountain spikes (just like Kathoola Microspikes) and was very glad to have them for among the icy excessive sections. Also on the footwear entrance, I periodically wore a mix of merino wool socks and Montbell Gore-tex All Round Socks beneath 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 (Note: Depending on situations, I’d contemplate carrying an ice axe as effectively; significantly if tackling among the really useful aspect journeys talked about within the Cicerone Guide).

Descending from Schoenbichler Scharte, the very best level on the Berlin High Trail.

  • How Long will it take?: In the “At a Glance” part I point out that the common length of a BHT hike is 7 to 9 days. That stated, the period of time wanted can fluctuate tremendously relying on plenty of elements. Fit and skilled ramblers carrying a light-weight pack and who’ve a great run with the climate, can comfortably do the journey in 4 or 5 days (Note: The longer daytime of summer time would clearly assistance on this entrance).
  • Highlights: I’m not the perfect particular person 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: Virtually all hikers on the Berlin High Trail 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, supply breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As referenced above, the perfect worth can often be discovered within the half-board supply, which consists of a three-course dinner, a mattress, and breakfast for between 45 and 55 Euros (as of 2022). Note that folk affiliated with sure different European Alpine or Mountain golf equipment (e.g. UK, German, French) get pleasure from reciprocal rights.
  • Continued – Mountain Huts: During the height season months of July and August, lodging ought to ideally be booked prematurely (three to 4 weeks is really useful); this particularly holds true in case you are climbing in a bunch. For many of the huts, you’ll be able to select between bunking down in a shared dormitory or non-public room. Hiking in a counter-clockwise path, 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 Camping Possible within the Austrian Alps?: Officially talking………….it’s difficult. There is not any “everyman’s right/freedom to roam” in Austria, and alpine zone tenting laws can fluctuate considerably between states. The Berlin High Trail is situated within the Tyrol area. According to the Austrian Alpine Club, tenting exterior of official campsites in Tyrol is prohibited, excluding “for a short period of time when required by the occasion.” Before wild campers get too excited, the web site additionally states that “deliberate bivouacking is equated with staying in a tent! Violations can result in fines of up to 14,500 euros, depending on the federal state.” In actuality, I believe in the event you have been to remain effectively away from huts and farms, arrange simply earlier than darkish in a stealthy spot, depart at daybreak the following day, and diligently apply LNT ideas always, you’d be unlikely to have any points. Click right here for an in depth overview of the tenting state of affairs in Austria.
  • Winter Rooms (“winterraums”): Although I did carry a shelter on the Berlin High Trail, 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 are typically an annex to the principle hut and stay open all yr spherical.

Looking again in the direction of the Furtschagl Haus

Mid-morning break on the Furtschagl Haus winter room.

View from the Olperer winter room.

Final Thoughts on the BHT

To some extent, my journey on the Berlin High Trail was outlined by the climate. On the primary day, I had clear skies, little wind, and comfy temperatures. On Day 2, issues began to deteriorate, although visibility was largely good excluding both aspect of Schoenbichler Scharte move. On the third day, situations turned to shit, and for a lot of the time, I hiked in freezing rain, snow, and driving wind. With the exception of 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 closing 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 forged of Deadwood blush. With that admission out of the way in which, and as crazy as it might sound, I truly get pleasure from climbing in such situations.

Don’t get me mistaken; I’m not an entire nutter. I wouldn’t need to do it on a regular basis. But I’ve all the time figured that in the event you’ve acquired the suitable gear, abilities, health, a constructive mindset, and an ironic sense of humour, then climbing in such climate is a problem value embracing. It reveals 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 onerous that I sweat excessively, however on the identical time I’m not dropping my climbing velocity sufficient that I’m liable to changing into chilly and doubtlessly hypothermic. And if my thoughts ever begins to wander or detrimental 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 High Trail. I couldn’t have requested for a extra memorable solution to wrap up my Alpine journey of 2019.

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