Posts Tagged With: tirol

Hiking on the Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites


“Francy, get out the van and look at this! You won’t believe it!” I hear Logan saying in the morning. I open the door and see a snow line in the trees only about 100m above us. Oh, so I guess there will be fresh snow on the Seiser Alm then?! Looks like our walk will rather be a short one today anyway after Logan ran up there yesterday and I’m still fighting off my light headache.

The Seiser Alm, or in Italian: Alpe di Siusi, is Europe’s highest alpine pasture at 1680 – 2350m above sea level. It is very big at about 57km² and surrounded by mountains like the Schlern and the Langkofelgruppe (long-peak-group).

The Schlern:


We drive up the serpentine mountain road to Compatsch, the only village where cars are still allowed on the Alm and discover that much of the snow is already melting due to the warm sun. Looking at the tourist map, we realize there are literally hundreds of different routes to choose from, some of them particularly designed for hiking, some for cycling and some for running. We choose a 1-2hour round trip and start our easy walk:

The Langkofelgruppe with Logan looking at the Plattkofel (flat-peak) 2969m:

 

 

Within 10 minutes we lost the orange track we wanted to follow and find ourselves getting further and further away from the van. What started off as a slow walk turns into a hike, then a power hike, up and down hills and soon steep up towards the Langkofelgruppe. After 5(!!!) hours of hiking I’m suddenly being screamed at. I have no idea what it is or where it’s coming from and start screaming myself. Then I see it! A groundhog! I’m so excited, I can hardly get a word out to explain Logan what I see. A very confident ground hog is standing up right in front of me, trying to scare me off. We slowly get closer and sit down on a rock. After a few seconds we see another one, and another one, and another one… The whole groundhog family is coming out from it’s den to check us out too. I really love watching animals, especially in the wild. We stay for a while, watching them play, feed and ring the shrill alarm whistle another time, when a large bird flies past.

Finally we arrive at the Plattkofel hut. My feet are wet from the melting snow and I’m exhausted from the long hike. We are looking forward to a drink and some warm food in the hut when soon it dawns on us: The hut is closed. We already expected it as we haven’t seen any hikers for a long time and there were no tracks in the snow either.

Plattkofel (flat peak)                                                                            See the ground hog?

 

So instead of sitting down for a nice warm lunch, we get out our emergency cookies and some water and sit down in the grass. A black bird joins us, being quite pushy about getting his share of our lunch.

Plattkofel hut                                                                Black bird and Plattkofel in the background

 

The tracks up the Plattkofel weren’t open yet due to the snow and quite frankly we didn’t feel like hiking/climbing any higher. We had a long way back to our van and didn’t want to arrive back in Compatsch after dark.
Fortunately going down works out to be quite fast, especially slipping and sliding down the melting snow.

Soon we arrive in a valley and realize that we need to walk back up again. There are no buses going, so we have no choice but to keep going!

 

Here you can see the Plattkofel (the snowy flat peak on the right), the mountain we walked down all the way into the valley and then back up to where I took this photo. Only about 20min to Compatsch (and our van) from here!

The sun is standing low when we see the first houses of Compatsch. It has been 7.5 hours since we left for the walk.
Absolutely exhausted but happy about this amazing hike, we fall into the door of our camper van and have a decent portion of Spaghetti to fill up our hungry bellies.

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Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)


After a nutritious breakfast…

… we leave beautiful Villanders to drive further into the Dolomites, hoping to start a 5 day trek.

Here’s a photo of where about the Dolomites are (the lower white end in Northern Italy).

And our Camping spot with beautiful views over the Dolomites…

On our discovery route, we drive through Kastelruth (or Castelrotto) and get to enjoy fantastic views at the Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm). Kastelruth is a lovely Tyrollean village with mural art on the buildings. During winter this is a snow resort town and during summer the gateway to an adventure land full of activities like mountain climbing, hiking, running or cycling.

  

Driving up to the Seiser Alm, an amazing plateau, we have to discover that there is no way we can possibly spend the night here. Cars are only allowed to a certain point and there is only one car park which is monitored by rangers regularly. We return to the village “Seis” at the bottom of the Seiser Alm and try to gather some information on possible hiking trails for the next days. Here we find out that the refuge huts are still closed and that there is still snow in the higher parts of the hiking trails. Our planned 5-Day walking track will not happen but we are still quite happy to go for a day-trek tomorrow.

For today we decide to just go for a walk from our campsite in Seis to a lake we found on the map.
It is a rather cool but sunny day (with clouds) and I’m struggling with a light headache caused by the cold winds, so I end up wearing a beanie.
We first walk through dense forest and just when I’m reminded of my childhood stories of witches and dwarfs, I discover a large rock in the middle of the woods with a sign telling a myth about a pastor who was once killed here by witches. Soon after, we come to an open alpine pasture with dozens of cows and bulls roaming freely. The cow bells are ringing everywhere and one cow curiously walks right up to me, smelling me and my hand. I think I have never been so close and vulnerable to a cow before but even though we were both slightly afraid of each other, I felt very close to this lovely creature. The soft nose touched my hand and the big eyes looked at me with curiosity. I think I really fell in love with cows and I’m glad that these ones here have such a wonderful live. They all were very active, running around, jumping and moo-ing loudly.

Not far and we arrive at a lake surrounded by forest. We walk around it once and then return to Seis via a different route.

  

     

  

This different route leads us past a restaurant and we can’t resist but follow our noses…

    

So after having filled our stomachs with Schnitzel and fries, Logan got stylish for his run.
Here, a photo of the 2012 sport’s outfit:

Logan actually ended up running all the way up to the Seiser Alm and back, he’s just that crazy guy from Down Under who can’t get enough!

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Austria – Kirchdorf, Tirol

The alarm rings but we ignore it. It’s just not a good start for a holiday, so we add another two hours of sleep before finally getting up. Our bags are full of winter clothes and the skiing gear is already waiting for us in the car.

Logan forgot his ski pants in Robert’s car when they climbed the Brocken over a week ago, so we have to go to his place to pick them up. Then we have about 6.5 hours drive ahead.
Behind Munich, the picturesque scene on the horizon is beautiful. When the big wall of mountains appears, the sun is just about to set behind them. It looks like you couldn’t get through the mountainous landscape, just when you find out that the highway is bending and leading right into the majestic Alps.
Upon arrival in Kirchberg we have to learn that our Chalet is in Kirchdorf. Panic sets in: Hopefully Kirchdorf is not too far away?! Lucky, 20 minutes later we are in Kirchdorf at the Mountain High Chalet right near a creek. The snow is over a meter high but unfortunately it is raining.
Slightly exhausted we sit down to have a three-course meal, which is part of our booking each night (apart from Tuesday) for this week. Vegetable soup, Wiener Schnitzel with fries and cake: my goodness that was delicious and filling.

The chalet owner tells us he is French and his wife a Kiwi. Then he tells us, the ski hut down the road is owned by an Australian woman. The Alpenrider in Kirchberg is also owned by an Australian. Seems there are a few around from Down Under. Logan smirks.

Beep beep, beep beep. Great, again the alarm waking us up! This time we actually have to get up because breakfast is only between 8-9:30am. While I almost want to complain, thoughts of white powdery snow are shooting through my head. We are going skiing today!
The look out of the window makes me want to jump right back into bed: it is still raining and the snow is wet!!

I convince myself that it’s all going to be ok and jump under the shower: next dilemma! I forgot my hairdryer at home.

After breakfast we are asking our host whether he thinks it’s worth trying to ski up the top of the mountains. He checks the weather forecast for us and recommends the Steinplatte (stone plateau), a mountain at around 1800m.

Logan and I walk across the street to get him fitted with a snowboard, boots and helmet. Not an easy task when you have shoe size 49 (14)! Bloody hell Logan, your index toe is a weird one! There is still a very big blister on top of that same toe from his Malerweg trekking adventure; only because it’s too long for every shoe and bends up in a funny way.

With a board as big as a raft and boots one size too small (it was the biggest size they had) we are now off to the Steinplatte, only a few km down the road.
From down the bottom we can visibly see the snowline. The trees suddenly go white from a certain altitude; that’s a great sign! The gondola takes us up past the snow line, and up… and up… and then even further up!!! You can only see about a quarter of the length of the gondola from the bottom, so we were quite surprised at how high we were taken. At the top of the Steinplatte there was so much snow, we couldn’t believe our eyes; and then we realised our eyes couldn’t make much sense of all the white anyway. Snow on the ground, white sky and falling snow resulted in one white image. It was incredibly hard to see how steep a hill was or whether there were any bumps on the track. My goggles helped to take the glare away but I still couldn’t quite see. Poor Logan didn’t have proper ski-goggles, only his sunnies that were a bit too dark and would fog up.

And off we went, howling down like the wind, as if we never did anything else. Ok, Logan fell over a few times and I did once, but let’s call it “tricks”. Yeah, we did some tricks!
Four hours went past like one and we only stopped because my muscles started to burn. What great fun, good we got a few more days to go!

Back at the “Mountain High” Chalet we checked out our footage and Logan even fell asleep for a few minutes. At 6pm we went down for our three-course meal: Soup, Goulash with Spätzle and Banana Split. Mmmmmmhhh! I’m about to explode and Logan isn’t moving either, right Logan? … Logan?? Oh, he’s asleep again!

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