On the shoulders of giants

Awww yeah! Back on trail again. Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic I didn’t expect to see the mountains at all this year. But here I am, in an Austrian mountain hut, about to enjoy a beer my traveling companion Patrick owes me due to a lost bet (those are the best beers).

The trail is called the Venediger Höhenweg as it contours the Gross Venediger, Austria’s fourth (or was it third?) highest mountain. It’s a seriously awesome trail around a seriously awesome mountain. Every day, there’s views of epic glaciers feeding many jaw dropping waterfalls. I cannot overstate how grand the whole scenery feels. I imagine this is what hiking in the Himalaya feels like. Like hiking on the shoulders of giants. To up the ante a bit I’m also carrying some 4kg of camera gear. It’s lovely for photo and video but I definitely curse myself when hiking uphill.

The Gross Venediger skyline

With me is Patrick. He’s never been in the mountains before. Apart from having very sore legs, I think he likes the trip.

Together we started out six days ago from the Felbertauern pass where the bus driver let us out and since then time has passed in a flurry of sweat, sunshine and amazing three course meals. Yep, you read that right. We hike from hut to hut and huts in Austria are generally luxourious. Especially their meals. Today we actually had an all you can eat buffet (at over 2200m). For the first time, I actually think I’m getting fatter while hiking.

Patrick hiking up to the Neue Prager Hütte

Like I said, the route itself has been amazing. Every day offers a change in scenery, every day there’s new views to the glacier capped mountains above. As a landscape photographer, it feels like cheating to be out here. It’s literally impossible to take an ugly photo here!

Speaking of which: I got extremely lucky a few days ago. While staying at the Neue Prager Hütte, a rare combination of extremely clear skies, a rising moon and the Milky Way helped me to take this amazing photo. I credit mother nature for making my job extremely easy.

Milky Way over the Gross Venediger

The last two days however, the weather was less than great. A cold front passed through the mountains and with it it brought rain, thunderstorms and loads of fog. We were right up at the Galtenscharte (a very high pass) as it hit. A biting cold wind and sleet added another dimension to our hike down the mountain. It was only this morning the weather finally cleared.

The Galtenscharte looming large in the distance

Tomorrow we hike down the mountain and then back up to the other side of the valley to finish off the holiday on the Lasörling Höhenweg, a logical continuation of the Venediger Höhenweg. But right now, it’s time for schnapps and music. Prost!

View from the Bonn Matreier Hütte as the fog cleared for a minute