In Kaernten, Austria, there are two summits, called Polinik: Obervellacher Polinik rises south of the river Drau valley, our Gailtaler Polinik rises south of the river Gail / Zilja, just above Koetschach-Mauthen. Its name has a Slovenian origin (in the distant past Slovenian people were inhabiting the whole valley, while today they can be hardly traced only up to Hermagor / Šmohor), meaning 'Noon Peak'; like Poludnik, Ponca and similar (like: Mittagskofel, Cima Dodici). Indeed, when the sun comes over our Polinik, for people in Koetschach-Mauthen it's noon time. East of Ploecken Pass / Passo di Monte Croce, 1360 m, the Eastern part of Carnic Alps main ridge begins. Like the main group west of the saddle, also these mountains are rocky with some impressive walls. But as Carnic Alps are geologically very diverse, also here soon other types of rocks appear. So, while the summit of Polinik is made of grey limestone, already the ridge connecting it with Cima Avostanis / Blaustein in the main ridge is grassy till the top and only some older rock formations appear out of the ridge.
Polinik is the last peak in the side ridge, which from Cima Avostanis / Blaustein, 2193 m, deters from Carnic Alps main ridge towards the North and then on Laucheck, 2153 m, slowly turns towards the West. So, between the main ridge and Polinik there's the beautiful Angerbachtal. East of Polinik, just beyond Spielbodentoerl, 2095 m, a side summit, called Elferspitz, 2251 m, is rising. So, another point on the sun-clock (Elferspitz means Eleven o'clock Peak), proving our hypothesis of Polinik's name origin can be correct. The Polinik summit itself is a three-edge pyramid. Its south slope is very broad, not so steep, grassy and only at the top rocky. Towards the NW and the NE two high rocky walls are falling, the north-western one is beautifully seen when we are driving over the very frequented Ploecken Pass / Passo di Monte Croce. In these walls also some harder climbs are possible.
The normal ascent is an ordinary walk-up, some care is needed only on the rocky summit (SE) ridge. Due to the fact that from the main road you need to overcome only 1120 m of elevation, the summit is often visited. And because of its nice panorama it's worth to come up there. In winter and spring Polinik is also popular as a ski tour. Again, only the last part below the summit requires advanced skiing technique and in harder conditions additional care and equipment.
Similarly as its neighbours towards the west (Gamskofel, Mooskofel), also the summit of Polinik is built of Paleozoic sediment rocks. Some 420-360 million years ago in warm, shallow tropic seas, separated with a barrier from open seas, up to 700 m thick layers were deposited, forming today the upper parts of those mountains. Limestone got dolomitized, meaning that CaCO3 was slowly transformed into CaMg(Co3)2. These rock layers can best be seen on the northern ridge and in the rocks of the nortwest basin. Nice petrified sea plants (algae, sea lilies, corales) can be found in those rocks. The Polinikkar area is included into the famous Carnic Alps Geo Park trail, marked as Geopoint 58.
Click on the above panorama to see it in full screen mode.
Polinik is just high enough to enable a free view on all sides, only a very small part of the western horizon is obscured by the higher Hohe Warte / Monte Coglians group. But the view on this group is also the most beautiful part of Polinik's panorama. Otherwise especially attractive is the view towards the SE, where a whole sea of sharp peaks, belonging to Carnic Alps and Julian Alps is raging. Towards the North you have the beautiful parade of glacier-covered peaks of Hohe Tauern - from Hochalmspitze on the East to Hochgall on the West. Before Hohe Tauern there's the whole range of lower Gailtal Alps and on the West Lienz Dolomites. And far on the SW the towers of 'Dolomiti d'Oltre Piave' are rising - the Monfalcon Group and other ranges of Carnic Fore-Alps.
Through the gorge, falling down from Ploecken Pass / Passo di Monte Croce towards the North, a protected marked path goes, which is worth visiting for itself. Mauthner Klamm is claimed one of the most beautiful gorges of Kaernten. For visitors the bottom part is opened, the tour consists of two parts: the lower part is easy, for family hikes, the next part (called Klabautersteig) is a medium hard ferrata, where some expertise is needed. Altitude to do: 200 meters. The trailhead is in Mauthen, the parking place near Schwimmbad. Then the route goes by the water bed, there are many hanging bridges and tunnels in rocks. The whole tour lasts some 4 hours (30 min + 2 hours upwards, 1 hour 30 minutes downwards by Roemerweg - the ancient Roman path). It is possible also to exit the gorge on Ploecken Pass road - the best option is perhaps to prepare a bike up there and do a round tour.
In the ridge, connecting the summit of Polinik with the main Carnic Alps ridge, there are some less important summits, which can still be a goal of a nice mountain tour. Beyond Spielbodentoerl there is first the Elferspitz, 2251 m. It's a sharp, grassy peak, no path up there, I don't think many people ascend it (even if the ascent by its grassy, SW oriented valley is not hard). Next towards the East is Laucheck, 2153 m. It can be ascended by the path, coming from Obere Tschintemunt Alm on the saddle NW of the summit. By its grassy ridge the path continues also to the next summit: Koderhoehe, 2228 m. It is a broad, massive ridge mountain above the end of Angerbach valley. It can be crossed by an non-marked path from the NW (Laucheck) to the SE (Koderkopf). Koderkopf, 2176 m, is a minor summit north of Cima Avostanis / Blaustein. Over it the marked Karnischer Hoehenweg goes, so it gets some visits. The last summit in the connecting ridge is already on the main Carnic Alps ridge - Cima Avostanis / Blaustein. It can be best ascended by its grassy south slopes.
Along the whole Carnic Alps main ridge the marked path, called Karnischer Hoehenweg goes. Its primary goal is traversing the whole range, and not so much ascending major peaks. Actually this high panoramic route has in many parts its separate Austrian and Italian variants. In the vicinity of Polinik, the Austrian variant comes from Valentintal and runs further through Angerbach valley. On all maps it is still drawn to run from Untere Tschintemunt Alm to Obere Tschintemunt Alm and further over Koderkopf towards the East. But in the last years the connection between the two Tschintemunt alpine pastures looks abandoned, so the marked path goes from Obere Spielboden Alm to Obere Tschintemunt Alm. This variant is in the descent some 30 minutes shorter as the previously mentioned one.
Carnic Alps - Main Ridge (Eastern part)
The ascent from the North, from Mauthen in the valley of Gail/Zilja, is quite long, so almost everybody uses the trailhead on the road over Ploecken Pass / Passo di Monte Croce. This pass is an old connection between the southern valleys, bringing you down to the Po river plane and Adriatic coast, and the Gail / Zilja valley and over the big passes of Alps further towards the North. It was used much before the times of Ancient Romans. Today a good asphalt road crosses the pass. The trailhead is just north of the pass, on the parking place near Ploecken Haus, 1215 m. Roads from there into Angerbachtal are closed for public traffic.
Click on map elements to get basic information about the key points and routes sections!
1. From the South (normal). From Ploecken Haus, 1215 m, you go eastwards, pass Gruensee, and there turn over the meadow towards the North. Through the woods more steeply up, then by the mountain road and across it in the eastern direction up on Untere Spielboden Alm. Further towards the East through light woods, then soon out on grassy slopes and over a broad shoulder towards the North up on Obere Spielboden Alm (water). From the alpine meadow further to the North in a shallow basin with a small lake, and more steeply up on Spielbodentoerl (notch). There comes also the northern approach. From the notch by the SE ridge (rocky, you need a safe step) to the top. It's 1120 m of altitude, a middle hard walk-up tour (T3), good 3 hours. Power: 1 - only walk up. Psyche: 2 - easy. Orientation: 1 - no difficulties. This is in winter and early spring also a nice ski tour.
2. From the North. You start in Mauthen, 707 m. By the mountain road you go towards the South on Polinik Alm and further on Schrockgebirgs Alm. From there you continue more steeply towards the South, allways below the eastern face of Polinik. Finally you ascend Spielbodentoerl from the left (eastern side). Further by the SE ridge on top. 1630 m, 5 hours. In good conditions this can be in winter and early spring also used as a downhill route (but then you must get a transfer to Ploecken Haus). The valley below the East face of Polinik can also be reached from the East, from Würmlacher Alm.
3. Ski tour from Elferspitz. You go from Obere Spielboden Alm towards Spielbodentoerl up to some 1900 m of altitude. There you turn right and ascend through a more and more steep valley on Elferspitz. A middle hard ski tour.
4. West ridge. The W ridge is much less attractive as the ascent option, but if you decide to descend by it, you can do a crossing of Polinik summit. The first part of the descent is easier and goes by ex military trails (from the WW1). Later the descent requires some scrambling and easy downclimbing, up to UIAA I difficulty. On some places you can go (steeply) down from the main ridge, towards the south, but also towards the north, in Polinikkar. Finally you descend from a grassy ridge towards the south and then return either on the Obere Spielbodenalm, or down towards the SW and by the mountain road to Ploeckenhaus.
The first ascents worth to mention were made in the E face, NW face and by the N ridge as early as between 1889 and 1900.
You can see a detailed map (1:50.000) on-line on: http://www.austrianmap.at/.