OverviewA 10K walk along the Nordkette, high above the Inn valley of Austria. Fantastic scenery and the chance of a beer along the way! The route follows a protected path that winds between the peaks overlooking Innsbruck, then drops down to a good meal and a beer if you want, at the welcoming Pfeishutte. The round trip should take 4 to 5 hours, depending on the liquidity of your lunch!!
Getting ThereInnsbruck is well served by public transport, has excellent road links and it’s own airport.
From the city centre, take the ‘J’ bus to Hungerburg. They run every 15 minutes or so and cost around 1.7 euros. They are used to passengers with rucksacks and hiking poles, and you can hook your bicycle on the back of the bus if you want! From late Autumn 2007 there will be another option to get to Hungerburg when the cable railway from the city centre opens.
From Hungerburg, either follow what are in the main well defined and signposted trails, (ski-ing pistes) or take the Cable Car to the Hafelkar station, just below the peak of Hafelekarspitze. The cable car will cost you around 19 euros for both ways, the walk will cost you about 1,400 vertical metres and another 4 kilometres each way.
Route DescriptionFrom Hafelekar station, follow the well marked trail that leads up and right, to the peak of Hafelekarspitze, some 65 metres higher. Looking North, you can see Karwendel nature park, & to the South, the Brenner pass cutting through the mountains toward Italy.
Directly West of the cable car station, is the start of the Innsbrucker Klettersteig, a middle of the range 7 hour round trip that finishes at the intermediate cable car station at Seegrube.
Our route will take us East, winding between the peaks of Gleirspitze, Mandlspitze and Gleirschtaler Brandjoch, before dropping North into the Samertal valley.
From the summit of Hafelekarspitze, follow the path that takes the spit of land leading down and to the East. A 45 degree slope with occasional rocky steps will bring you onto a fairly level and evenly surfaced path that leads you East. You are now on the Goetheweg trail proper, and it would be hard to get lost! As you walk, the high ground will be to your left, with steep drops to your right down into the Inn valley. There are long sections of cable to clip for your winter traverse, but in late May you could push a baby buggy along this section without worrying.
After a while, a few switchbacks will take you north over a pass so that you are now traversing the other side of the range.
Down to your left is the Karwendel nature park, bounded on the left as it reaches our ridge by the wall of Gleirschzahne, which looks to be good for climbing.
The path here needs a little more care, always heading East, crossing patches of snow and scree runs. Again, there are cables if you need them, including one section that dived steeply under some recent rockfall, reappearing again a few metres later in a battered and sorry state.
Another few steep switchbacks takes you back to the other side of the ridge, between Mandlespitze and Gleirschtaler Brandjoch. You aren’t actually on the south of the main ridge, as you have only crossed a spur on the ridge. Below you is a large bowl that is bounded to the South by the ridge proper, and falls away to the North to the valley with the Pfeishutte.
The path zig zags down over the scree field and heads generally North East to the hut some 300 vertical metres below. Lower down, the path splits a few times, but it matters not which you take as long as you head NE.
The Pfeishutte, will sell you as much hot food as you can fit in, with beer, wine or hot drinks to suit. You can stay overnight and there‘s usually a wood burning stove on the go.
The return is essentially the route in reverse, except when you reach the foot of Hafelekarspitze, you carry on West on the level path. This path will bring you out directly at the cable car station.
Essential GearJust your usual kit for a mountain walk, no technical equipment is needed for this route in the summer. Don’t be fooled by the presence of easy to follow paths, cable cars and huts. You are above 2,000 metres in the Alps, and if it is raining in Innsbruck, you may get several feet of snow here!
Kompass Map 036 (1:30,000) covers the route and all the surrounding area.