Highlights of the Walking Holiday
First Day: arrival at Kempter Hutte, greeted by marmots.
Second Day: crossed into Austria, beautiful meadows of alpen rose, gentians and mountain avens and a ‘banana break’ at café Ute.
Third Day: climb steeply 850m to the Kaiserjoch Haus, arriving by 11.15. Too early for lunch, so did a ‘sporty’ little climb up to the Melatschkopf.
Day Four: itinerary suggested an easier day with only 300m to climb, but again we were tempted into a little extra excitement, taking the higher route with its chains and wires for support in tricky places. In the snow we met a group of ptarmigan (like us not sure whether winter or summer plumage was best).
Day Five: delayed at an Alm mid-morning when one of us got locked in the loo and was rescued by mein-host scrambling in through the window. No showers at the isolatedEdmund Graf Hutte, but ladies took advantage of the natural ‘whirlpool bath’, whilst some chaps climbed a further 300m to the glacial lakes for a swim.
A rest-day, so we climbed through scree to the Hoher Riffler (3168m). Managed to return to the Hutte before the thunderstorm broke. We were rewarded by the visit of three ibex and a magnificent rainbow.
Day Seven: climb to Kappler Joch and then descended in the company of hundreds of mountain bikers, before branching off across heavenly alpine meadows towards the Alpengasthof Dias and lunch. After supper in Ischgl we all enjoyed the local wind-band concert, even though the conductor bore a strange resemblance to Dracula.
Day Eight: up 800m to Getschnerscharte, the rain began and then thunder and lightning. All wet through, trying to find our way through scree and finally a snow field. Group shelter brought into play for a banana break. A small cave after the col provided enough shelter to get extra clothes on. Despite continuing downpour, delighted by the amazing rocks all around us – banded gneiss. Waded through swollen stream before reaching the Jamtal Hutte with its enormous drying rooms.
Day Nine: left in snow for the Kronenjoch with plenty of clothes on. Reached a ‘cave’ for sheltered break and then continued in blizzard conditions to the joch. One rucksack cover blew away in gale force wind. No-one stopped to take photos as we crossed the ridge into Switzerland. Reached the Heidelberger Hutte at 14.30 (within the five hours suggested). Alun treated us to apfelstrudel and hot chocolate.
Day Eleven: leaving with hundreds of cyclists to climb to the Fimberpass (2608m) and then the long descent along Ana Choglias, to Zuort for an expensive lunch (properly in Switzerland now). Saw strange clay pyramids across the valley.
Day Twelve: after a night listening to the church clock chiming every quarter inRamosch, walked to the covered wooden bridge at Sur En before the long climb upthe Uina Gorge with its narrow path cut out of the rock face in the First World War and several tunnels. Spectacular! At the top, strolled across alpine meadows, over the Italian border and up to 2309m before descending to our last hutte, the Sesvenna. A free drink of the local fire-water and an excellent meal.
The Last Day’s Walk: traversed eastern side of the Schliniger Tal, through beautiful meadows and then followed a steep track down to Schlinig and on road to Mals (where we failed to find Adrian’s pizzeria), and caught 15.30 train to Merano. Interesting journey through apple orchards (hoopoe seen) and past a marble factory. Final night spent at the Youth Hostel and a wonderful meal.
Final Day: caught 07.45 train to Verona for some sightseeing time there. Rucksacks into the station left-luggage and wandered into the city centre. Saw the Roman amphitheatre and bridge and, of course, Juliet’s house and balcony. Alun was determined to put his Ramblers’ Holidays cap on the head of Juliet’s statue. Rain began, but left our waterproofs with the rucksacks! In flight food consisted of a small packets of nuts and raisins!
Total climb over the 14 days was over 29,000 feet and a horizontal distance of about 90 miles.