Gosaukamm Trek 2014

UPDATE:

We’ve completed it in 2014 and found it needs to be revised. See this post if you want to know more.

This is still a good overview of the Gosaukamm Hut-to-Hut Trek, though. We’ll revise this description to fit with our experience by the end of this year. You’ll find better trail descriptions and more details on the huts we visited.

For now you can adapt the descriptions here for your needs, if you want to do this trek on your own, but keep in mind we are no longer offering it with the itinerary we described. You may also contact us with questions.

The Hut-to-Hut Trek along the Gosaukamm

From beginning to end, this entire hut-to-hut trek lasts five days. Not counting an optional first night in Salzburg, we’ll spend a night in Hallstatt, and 3 nights in alpine huts before we return to Salzburg and go our separate ways.

The Gosaukamm is one of the most scenic mountain ranges in the Northern Limestone Alps. It forms a visually stunning spur of the Dachstein Massif, the second highest mountain range in Austria and one of the last with glaciers in the Eastern Alps.

Art Journaling Sessions

The art journaling sessions begin in Salzburg with an orientation and a quick check of supplies. Lori will also help you set up your art journal with pockets and maps. If you get there early enough, we’ll send you on a scavenger hunt for a wealth of material you can only find in Salzburg. If you miss out in Salzburg, don’t worry, we’ll continue along those lines in Hallstatt and on our way to the first hut. 

From then on a typical day of art journaling consists of a morning session, a short session during the day when we sit down for meals and refreshments, and a final wrap up session after we arrive at our final hut for the day. Afterwards you can continue to work on your journal for as long as you want and still make the most of evenings in an alpine hut.

On the last day we complete the course with a final morning session, and we’ll spend as much time as possible on our art journals on the train back to Salzburg.

You will find a more detailed course description (soon) at the Art Camp for Women website.

The Hut-to-Hut Trek

The trip takes us from Salzburg to Hallstatt by bus and train, and finally by ferry across Lake Hallstatt. After an afternoon and a night in Hallstatt, we take a shuttle to the Lower Gosau Lake at the base the Gosaukamm. The lake and its setting – enclosed in a basin between the Dachstein and the Gosaukamm – is one of the jewels of the Region.

Leaving the lake for another day, we take a cable car to our first hut in the high country, the Gablonzer Hut. From there we trek for three days along the west side of the Gosaukamm spending each night in a different alpine hut.

During our hikes we’ll also stop at several Alm Cottages for food, rest and refreshments. On the final day of the trek we descend into the valley of the Enns River (Ennstal) and return to Salzburg by bus and train.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 0 – Arrival in Salzburg, Accommodation and Meals: On Your Own

Transportation to Salzburg

How and when you get to Salzburg is up to you. We usually fly to Munich and take a train directly from the Munich airport to Salzburg. We’d be happy to advise you, you can get cheap train tickets to Salzburg, for instance if you by the Bavarian Regional Ticket.

Accommodations and Meals

On your own; we can help you select a hotel or Pension; we will be staying at a hotel near the train station.

Sightseeing in Salzburg

If you arrive earlier in the day, you are welcome to join us on a quick jaunt through the Old Town. Roland was born in Salzburg, grew up nearby, and worked in town in his youth. He can point out the major attractions or give you directions on how to get the most out of Salzburg on your own in a short time.

Social Hour – Icebreaker: Augustiner Bräustübl

In the evening we are planning to meet for drinks and food at the Augustiner Bräustübl. The Bräustübl is a brewery established around 400 years ago by monks of the Order of St. Augustine. It is now operated in large part by Benedictine monks who still brew some of the best beer in the area. The beer is unpasteurized, which gives it a flavor that prevents spoilage: it makes the beer disappear long before it can go bad.

Day One – Travel Day: Salzburg – Bad Ischl – Hallstatt

In the morning we’ll board the bus to Bad Ischl, and from there ride the train to Hallstatt. The train stops across the lake from Hallstatt, so we’ll complete the last leg of our journey via ferry.
Hallstatt
Lake Hallstatt has been compared to a fjord.  The ferry ride to the town, its houses perching like swallows’ nests against the mountain across the lake, can be a mystical experience.

Hallstatt is one of the oldest and perhaps the most scenic settlements in the Alps. It has more to offer than we can see in a few hours. The best we can do is to stay there for sightseeing until the next morning. We’ll be sure to visit the graveyard and its bonehouse the best collection of decorated skulls in the world.

Best and most extensive display of decorated skulls in the world

Best and most extensive display of decorated skulls in the world

If there is sufficient demand, we’ll take the funicular to the Rudolfsturm, once a watch tower but now a restaurant, that stands over 1100 feet straight above Hallstatt. The view from there is nothing short of fantastic.Hallstatt: View from a Kiosk on the Way to Rudolfsturm

Unfortunately, the last ride down leaves at 4:30 pm, we’ll have enough time for a drink on the terrace, but not much more. We’ll spend the night at a Gasthaus or Pension in Hallstatt.

Day Two – Trekking Day: Hallstatt – Gablonzer Hut – Stuhlalm to Theodor-Körner Hut

Hallstatt to Gablonzer Hut (4990 ft)

From Hallstatt we take a shuttle to the Lower Gosau Lake where we board a cable car to save ourselves a couple of hours of hard hiking to the Gablonzer Hut high above. It’s only a short walk from the upper terminal of the cable car to the hut. We’ll have lunch on the terrace if the sun shines. From there we have an unequaled view of the Lower Gosau Lake below us.

Gablonzer Hut (4990 ft) to Theodor-Körner Hut (4463 ft) via Stuhlalm (4810 ft): 2 hours over moderate terrain;

This is the starting point of the Austria Trail, a maintained hiking trail through the Alps we’ll follow for the next couple of days. Although this first section of our trek only takes around 2 hours, it tests our legs and gives us a chance to get our packs right.

Right at the start switchbacks lead us up over a steep meadow. Then the trail takes us in short succession over two low mountain passes to the west side of the Gosaukamm.

From there we hike across slopes partially covered with dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo). Finally, after hiking through a lightly wooded area, the alpine meadows of the Stuhlalm open before us. These pastures, with their backdrop of the Gosaukamm rising to the sky, are the stuff of picture postcards.

On our way we’ll also stop by the Stuhlalm.

Stuhlalm Image: Austriatourism via Flickr Creative Commons

Stuhlalm
Image: Austriatourism via Flickr Creative Commons

It’s rustic and it’s run by friendly people who know how to cook. From here it’s just a short distance to the Theodor-Körner Hut where we’ll spend the night.

Day Three – Trekking Day: Theodor-Körner Hut (4768 ft) to Hofpürglhütte (5583 ft) by way of Sulzkaralm (5060 ft) : 3-4 hour hike over sometimes steep terrain

We continue on the Austria Trail through extensive zones of mountain dwarf pine. On one side are the towering peaks of the Gosaukamm, on the other side the vistas of the valley below and the mountain ranges beyond. But just before we get too comfortable comes perhaps the most difficult part of the entire trail called the Durchgang or “das Jöchl” – all of which more or less translates to “Passage”.

Here a new trail leads up a steep ravine before it deposits us, nearly 400 feet higher, on top. The old trail was destroyed by a landslide a few years ago. It was also very steep and narrow, and on occasion it was secured with wire cables and reinforced with wooden steps anchored to the ground. It wasn’t technically difficult, just steep.

The Alpine Club built the new trail up an adjacent ravine and it looks just as steep and just and narrow as the old one, and it’s just as negotiable with numerous switchbacks.

After we conquer the Jöchl, some 300 – 400 feet higher, the trail descends through easy ups and downs through pines and boulders until we reach our turnoff to the Sulzkaralm. This detour adds an hour or so to our hike, but its worth it and we take it.

The Sulzkaralm has been in operation for hundreds of years. They still keep a small dairy herd and they still make their own butter and cheese. They offer a generous lunch, but their specialty is a platter of various cheeses produced right there at the Alm.

After we digest our repast, we hike back up to the trail we left and continue on to the Hofpürgl Hut, where we stop for the day and spend the night.

The Hofpürglhut sits on a prominent outcrop overlooking the valley.

Hofpürgl Hut Image: image: texx1978; flickr creative commons

Hofpürgl Hut
Image: image: texx1978; flickr creative commons

It’s one of the alpine refuge huts managed by the Austrian Alpine Club, and it resembles a hotel more than a hut. It has flowing hot water, electricity, an indoor climbing wall and a gigantic dormitory style bunk room with over 105 mattresses, in addition to a number of smaller bedrooms.

The hut is an ideal point of departure for mountaineers, hikers and climbers alike to several of the peaks and hiking routes in the area

There is no chance of being bored here. The panorama of mountain ranges alone – LowTauern, High Tauern and Grossvenediger (Great Venetian) – can keep you spellbound for days.

Day Four – Trekking Day: Hofpürgl Hut (5583 ft) to Bachlalm (4543ft) by way of Hofalms and Sulzenalms (4914 ft): 4 – 5 hours

This is our longest and most strenuous hike of the trek and also the last one. But it’s also the best.

We’ll wander through alpine farm country dotted with woods, pastures with cows, and Alm huts. All of the these alpine farmsteads have been here for centuries, though their huts have been repeatedly renovated over the years.

The hike itself will take us between 4 and 5 hours, but we’ll break it up with stops at several Alms, so it will take us just about all day before we get to our last Alm of the day and for that matter, the entire trek, the Bachlalm.

Along the way, we’ll be treated to exquisite views in every direction

Hofpürgl Hut (5583 ft) to Oberhofalm/Unterhofalm (4220ft)

We leave the Austria Trail a short distance from the Hofpürgl Hut. We descend, switching back and forth over steep slopes covered with dwarf pine to the Unterhofalm and its cousin the Oberhofalm.

The Oberhofalm lies just a short distance below the Unterhofalm. Both Alms can trace their name to 14th century farms in the valley below with pasture rights to these Alms in the high country. Today, both Alms have been converted to inns with full restaurants. A toll road leads to them from the valley below, and they are a popular and easy destination for day trippers who want to spend a few hours among gorgeous scenery.

We’ll stop for as long as we need to, but without lingering for long, we move on.

Hofalms (4220ft) to Sulzenalm (5285ft)

From the Oberhofalm onward we’ll make up for the elevation we lost and hike steadily uphill to the Sulzenalm, an area of alpine meadows surrounded by mountains. There we’ll have the pain of choice between two rustic Alms: the Krahlehen-Hut or the Wallehen-Hut.

Sulzenalm and Gosaukamm Image: Herman Hartl; Flickr Creative Commons

Sulzenalm and Gosaukamm
Image: Herman Hartl; Flickr Creative Commons

Both offer meals and refreshments, but the Wallehen Hut, especially, lures with its rustic atmosphere, its excellent views and its green pastures which surround the hut. The Alm still makes a traditional style donut, so we’ll be sure to sample some. Recently I’ve learned they also make Schnapps from the green tips of Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra) and the roots of gentian. Both have medicinal properties, so we might have a Stamperl (a shot). We may need it to get over the next section of our trek.

Sulzenalm (5285 ft) over Sulzenhals (5990 ft) to Bachlalm (4885 ft)

Finally we set out on our last, but steepest uphill hike of the day, over a pass called the Sulzenhals . Soon after we reach the top, take a breather, and admire the mountains all around, we hike downhill once again. The descent to the Bachlalm leads over numerous switchbacks and across slopes covered with trees and dwarf pine, and it’s the last one of the day. For that matter, it’s the last one of our trek. Fueled by this prospect, we reach the Bachlalm before we know it. There we spend the last night on the trek in a congenial setting.

The Bachlalm prides itself on a marmot colony its owners established some years ago. The marmots are tame and will take food from your hands. As a biologist I frown on such things. Wild animal/people interactions, even when the animals are seemingly tame, often end up badly for animal and people alike. Apparently that hasn’t happened, yet, at the Bachlalm.

Day Five: Bachlalm (4885 ft) to Salzburg

After a leisurely breakfast, followed by an art journaling session, we catch a bus – for some unfathomable reason called the Beer Bus – to Filzmoos, a small town in the valley of the River Enns below us. We are done hiking, and other than a few short walks between conveyances, we give our legs a rest.

On the 22nd of September this small alpine town celebrates the annual drive of livestock from the Alms to the Valley. The cows are decorated with greens, flowers and bells and it marks the end of a season. As it happens, we’ll arrive in Filzmoos that day and we’ll take in a quintessential slice of Austria, even if it’s a little touristified.

From Filzmoos we make our way to Salzburg by bus and train. On the train we hold our last art journaling round up until we get to Salzburg. In Salzburg we retrieve the rest of our luggage and go our separate ways. However, anyone who wants to stick around is welcome to join in us celebrating the successful completion of our first shake-down trek, perhaps at another one of the breweries in Salzburg.

Cost of Entire Gosaukamm Shakedown Trek: $1200


Go to our Trek Information Page for more details . There you’ll find information on what’s included and what is not,  and things you ought to know before you register.  Also, see the FAQs for even more info. If  there are things and issues we haven’t addressed, yet (I’m sure there are), please contact us or leave a comment.

NOTE : The Gosaukamm Hut-to-Hut Trek is limited to a maximum of  6 people. It’s absolutely essential  that you talk with us before you decide to register.

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