Family Vacation + 10,728 ft Summit = Habicht

Family Vacation + 10,728 ft Summit = Habicht

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 47.04370°N / 11.28970°E
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 1, 2019
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Family Vacation + 10,728 ft Summit = Habicht

The Habicht is the perfect mountain for a climber on vacation in the Alps with his or her family. My wife and kids wanted to stay at a traditional alpine hut. They wanted to hike in the Alps and experience the food, culture, and beauty of the typical Tyrolian landscape. In addition to that, I wanted to squeeze in a quick summit of a +10,000 ft. peak (3000er). The Habicht makes all of that possible.

I will give the details in 18 bullet points for anyone else who is interested in finding that one perfect peak that allows a family (and a climber) to tick all the boxes.

1. Get to Innsbruck, Austria

2. Drive up to the Stubai Valley. If you need a place to stay in the valley, I can recommend a super clean, family-friendly, multi-room apartment with the Gleirscher family. It is a perfect home base, especially if you have been traveling and need a break before you start your hike/climb in the Alps.

3. If you want lunch or dinner in the Stubai Valley, I recommend Cafe Anny which isn't really a cafe. It is a regular restaurant, right in the middle of Neustift. We all found what we wanted: big salads, pizzas, noodles, and a lot more.

4. When you are ready to head up on your climb, you can park your car in Neustift at the base of the Elferlift, buy tickets, and you'll be dropped at the trailhead in just five minutes.

5. Once you leave the top of the lift, you will actually hike downhill for about 45-60 minutes to the Pinisalm. There is a small restaurant here with good food if you are already hungry or forgot to pack something for the kids.

6. From the Pinisalm you need to walk uphill to the Karalm. This takes about 30-45 minutes but it is easy enough on a gravel road. The views are amazing. There is only one car allowed in this valley (the "taxi") so you don't have to worry about traffic.

7. When you leave the Karalm you are on a well-maintained trail that felt 100% safe for my kids. It leads through the high pastures belonging to the Karalm's cows. Actually, watch out for the cows. The trail gets steep in some places and there is very little shade. There are streams where you can cool off and soak your feet if it is hot. From the Karalm to saddle where the hut is located takes about two hours.

8. When you reach the saddle (Pinisjoch), you are only a minute from the hut! You made it! The Innsbrucker Hütte is large but it is still wise to make a reservation. The food is great. I recommend the bread dumplings with cheese (Käseknödel). They are vegetarian. You can also get some great dessert up there, Kaiserschmarrn! Don't forget to bring a lot of cash. The prices are fair but not cheap and they don't take credit cards (as far as I know).

9. Now that your family has made it to the hut, you can relax, play cards, or simply stare at the amazing view. You will need to sleep though if you want to get up early and climb the Habicht. Because you'll be leaving before breakfast, you can ask for a "Vesperpacket" or lunch packet. They made me a cheese sandwich with pickles. That is the kind of thing that tastes great on the summit. The folks that maintain the hut (and have been there for generations) are super nice. I speak German, so I don't know how good their English is; but I met several English climbers and they seemed to be having no problems. [Here is th view from the front of the hut.]

10. When you sleep in the "Lager" rooms or group rooms, try to be as quiet as possible, especially after 10pm. I slept from about 11pm until 3:30am (fitfully) and snuck out before dawn without waking more than 5 or 6 of the people in my room (there were 7 of us). Sorry.

11. I found my boots in the boot room and was ready to climb by 4 am. It took me about 30 minutes to hike across the slopes behind the hut. There were a lot of annoyed sheep on the route. Be careful where you walk though, there are some precipices to be avoided just before you reach the true start of the climb.

12. The climbing section of the Habicht, fairly early on the route, is easy class three and class four scrambling. There is no class five climbing on the route. That said, you need to be careful as a fall would be very serious. I wore a helmet the whole time I was on this route. There are steel cables on the route that you can clip into (or hold onto) if needed. I was wearing a harness and had a loop of webbing with a carabiner so I could clip in if I chose. That said, you don't really need the cables but they are there if you find yourself in trouble. Gloves were nice though since my hands were on the rock the whole time. This is not just "hiking" by any stretch of the imagination. [Here is a picture I took on my way back to the hut around 8am in the morning. Notice the red & white marking on the rock. You'll see these marks all the way to the summit.]

13. After you get through the "climbing" section, there is an open area which can have some snow patches even in the Summer. Cross with care. You will ascend easy class two rock and eventually pop out on a snow field below the summit ridge. I have not used crampons or an ice-axe on either of my two climbs but I did need trekking poles as the snow was hard and icy.

14. From here, climb the ridge (climber's right). It is easy to find the summit as there is a huge Gipfelkreuz (summit cross) visible the whole time. It took me 2:20 minutes for the ascent including breaks and lots of photos. Plan for three hours if you don't know the route or like to take it slow. The view is amazing. Check the weather for yourself. Are clouds building? Could there be a thunderstorm? I have experienced thunderstorms that would have made climbing near the steel cables terrifying, so keep you eye on the weather.

15. The descent is the same as the ascent. I made it from the summit back to the hut in about 1:50 even though I stopped for photos and to talk to all the other climbers I met on the way. My total time climbing the mountain was 4:40 including time on the summit; I was back with my family just after they finished breakfast (but too late for breakfast myself).

16. The hike down is a breeze. The kids didn't hesitate to let me know that going downhill was a lot easier. However, once you reach the little restaurant at the Pinisalm, you have a solid hour of uphill hiking back to the top of the Elferlift. Don't underestimate how exhausting this is if your kids are little. My kids were fine, but they are 10, 14, and 18 (so not exactly young).

17. We arranged to be met at the top of the Elferlift by Lorenz Peer the owner of Fly-Stubai Paragliding. He is an amazing guide and I had no qualms about letting our oldest kid fly down to the valley on his paraglider (€105 in 2019). If you have ever thought about paragliding, this is it! This is the best. My kid described it as "totally not scary" and "so amazing!" It looked so great that I am considering doing it even though I don't love heights.

18. We took the Elferlift back to the parking lot and picked our kid up from the meadow where the paraglider landed (100m away). From the Elferlift to the nearest grocery store was only about 400m so we stocked up on water & snacks and drove back to Innsbruck with about 300 photos, dirty clothes, tired feet, and lots of good memories.


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