Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A Fast & Soiled Information to the Berlin Excessive Path

The Berlin Excessive Path (Berliner Höhenweg in German) is an ambulatory gem of the Zillertal Alps and considered one of 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.

Observe: The data under is basically directed in direction of impartial hikers, moderately than people going as a part of organized trekking teams. 

At a Look

Distance:  86 km (53 mi)

Common Period:  7 to 9 days (see How Lengthy will it Take? for particulars)

Issue Degree:  Average to demanding

Complete Elevation Achieve: 6,605 m (21,670 ft)

Begin:  Finkenberg

End:  Mayrhofen 

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

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

What’s in a Identify?: The Berlin Excessive Path is often known as 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 probably 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, notice that in “Strolling in Austria” it’s known as the Zillertal Hohenweg, whereas in “Trekking within the Zillertal Alps” it’s referred to 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 companies (1.5 hrs) from the close by metropolis of Innsbruck (the capital of the Tyrol area). From Mayrhofen to Finkenberg, you possibly can both stroll (4.5 km/2.8 mi) or take bus #4104.

Hanging the pose in downtown Innsbruck.


  • The climbing season within the Austrian Alps is mostly between late June to mid/late September. In a mean climate 12 months, September is right. The college vacation crowds are gone, the summer season thunderstorms (usually quick) 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 may also be carried out within the late spring or early to mid-fall. When climbing at these instances, it’s possible you’ll require an ice axe and traction units. Observe that the full-service huts are closed at these instances, so you will have to hold all your personal meals and maybe a tent/tarp (Observe: 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 aside from a holidaying Russian mountain information on the Olperer Hutte, I didn’t meet some other ramblers alongside the way in which. On account of a long-standing aversion to crowds, I usually desire to hike fashionable trails such because the BHT within the low season, and am keen to just accept the probability of more difficult situations in trade for the reward 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 (situated on the opposite facet of the principle constructing) was open.

Planning Info 

  • 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, primary maps for every part, facet journeys/alternates recommendations, 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. Nearly everybody you meet that’s underneath 60 years previous will converse English, nonetheless, just a few easy phrases and phrases of the native tongue will at all times be appreciated by locals.
  • Cell/Cellular Cellphone Protection: I are inclined to preserve 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 Excessive Path have Wifi/cell reception, together with the chance to cost your telephone and/or battery pack whether or not you’re overnighting, or simply stopping in for breakfast or lunch.
  • Money or Card?:  All the huts have been closed once I did the BHT, nonetheless, evidently through the climbing season (as of 2022) among the path’s refuges’ don’t settle for digital cost. Simply to make certain, 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 onerous to return by through the climbing season as all the huts are full service. It is usually potential 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 differ 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 possibility is well-priced, ample in dimension, and may as soon as once more be washed down along with your alternative of grownup drinks.
    4. Prices: Most people that in a single day on the huts go for the “half pension” possibility, which consists of dinner, mattress, and breakfast for between €45 and €55. Lunch is at all times à la carte.
    5. Low season: If you’re involved in climbing out of season, you’ll have to carry all your personal provides from begin to end. If you’re 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 could actually both be obtained on the huts or from streams alongside the way in which. Throughout my time within the Alps, I usually drank immediately from sources and had no intestinal points. The exception was if I used to be acquiring water downstream from huts or grazing animals, by which case I handled with Aquamira drops.

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

Route / Situations:

  • Overview:  Throughout the summer season months the Berlin Excessive Path is a average 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 nicely marked with splashes of crimson/white paint, and main junctions are signposted. Among the steeper sections are tackled with assistance from mounted cables (see picture under). The cable sections might be discovered on the next phases (climbing in a counter-clockwise route): 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 some other specialised tools?:  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 among 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 underneath my path trainers. I’d positively go together with the identical system once more if I used to be to return to the Alps within the spring or fall (Observe: Relying on situations, I’d take into account carrying an ice axe as nicely; significantly if tackling among the really helpful 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 period of a BHT hike is 7 to 9 days. That mentioned, the period of time wanted can differ vastly relying on a lot of components. Match and skilled ramblers carrying a light-weight pack and who’ve run with the climate, can comfortably do the journey in 4 or 5 days (Observe: The longer sunlight hours of summer season would clearly assistance on this entrance).
  • Highlights: I’m not the very best 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 quick 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.


  • Mountain Huts: Just about all hikers on the Berlin Excessive Path keep within the mountain huts. These regularly-spaced refuges often boast unimaginable 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 very best 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). Observe that people affiliated with sure different European Alpine or Mountain golf equipment (e.g. UK, German, French) get pleasure from reciprocal rights.
  • Continued – Mountain Huts: Throughout the peak season months of July and August, lodging ought to ideally be booked upfront (three to 4 weeks is really helpful); this particularly holds true in case you are climbing in a bunch. For many of the huts, you possibly can select between bunking down in a shared dormitory or non-public room. Climbing in a counter-clockwise route, 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 Potential within the Austrian Alps?: Formally talking………….it’s difficult. There isn’t any “everyman’s proper/freedom to roam” in Austria, and alpine zone tenting laws can differ considerably between states. The Berlin Excessive Path is situated within the Tyrol area. In keeping with the Austrian Alpine Membership, tenting outdoors of official campsites in Tyrol is prohibited, excluding “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 may end up in fines of as much as 14,500 euros, relying on the federal state.” In actuality, I believe for those who have been to remain nicely away from huts and farms, arrange simply earlier than darkish in a stealthy spot, go away at daybreak the subsequent day, and diligently follow LNT rules always, you’ll 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 an extended day in tough situations. They’re usually an annex to the principle hut and stay open all 12 months spherical.

Trying again in direction of the Furtschagl Haus

Mid-morning break on the Furtschagl Haus winter room.

View from the Olperer winter room.

Last 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 excluding both facet 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. Except once 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 remaining 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 might need even vented my displeasure to the climate gods with language so vibrant, that it might have made the forged of Deadwood blush. With that admission out of the way in which, and as crazy as it could sound, I really get pleasure from climbing in such situations.

Don’t get me flawed; I’m not a whole nutter. I wouldn’t wish to do it on a regular basis. However I’ve at all times figured that for those who’ve acquired the suitable gear, abilities, 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 onerous that I sweat excessively, however on the similar time I’m not dropping my climbing pace sufficient that I’m susceptible to changing into chilly and probably hypothermic. And if my thoughts ever begins to wander or unfavourable ideas creep in, I invariably consider my household, repeat a constructive mantra, or recall a comic story from my previous, and earlier than you possibly can 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 solution to wrap up my Alpine journey of 2019.

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