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Nordalpenweg and Zentralalpenweg

Nordalpenweg and Zentralalpenweg are two hiking trails that cross Austria from side to side. In 2012 I have hiked some stretches of both of them.

I started in Vienna following the Nordalpenweg, crossing the small initial mountains of the Eastern Alps.



Until the trail goes higher, beech forests are the most common landscape and the ground is very usually covered by wild garlic (Bärlauch in german).



Despite the Nordalpenweg is supposed to follow the north side of the Alps, at first it follows the backbone of the range, while the Zentralalpenweg stays in the south side. Because of this, the Nordalpenweg takes a high route essence, passing (or nearly) by the highest summits of the first 3 massifs: Klosterwappen (Schneeberg massif), Heukuppe (Rax massif) and Windberg (Schneealpe massif).

The Schneeberg summit day I was hiking in underpants at 5am and I still was hot. The next morning it snowed...

Schneeberg and the morning light.



In the picture below, Höllental valley (tal = valley) and its limestone walls.



My shelter in 360 degree protection mode, after a night of rain, wind and snow.



Walking towards Heukuppe summit in a cold morning.




 Schneealpe massif, with the valley of the Altenberg an der Rax municipality below.
 


Generally, official long distance hiking routes use to avoid technical difficulties, but with this two routes is not the case, sometimes resulting in an interesting combination between long distance and alpine hiking.

Chains, pins and ladders in the Gamsecksteig trail.



Hardened steep snowfield.



Ridge walking in the Schneealpe massif, with the snowed Heukuppe in the back.



Austrian mountains are quite influenced by religion, being very common to find crosses and other religion related stuff in summits and also in some passes.

Windberg summit.



Another very interesting hike was to follow the Zentralalpenweg in the Niedere Tauern range. It was the end of May and the snow still was covering most of the mountains.

Ready for a very comfortable night near Drei Lacken lakes.



Snowfree ridge walking, between 1800m and 2400m during about 30km.



I passed by several summits above 2000m: Kleiner Bösenstein, Zinkenkogel, Hochschwung, Seitner Zinken, Scharattnerkogel, Breiteckkoppe and Kreuzberg.

Admiring the valley of the Bretstein municipality, while eating delicious chocolate filled sandwich cookies.




Riedlerzinken summit on the right side of the picture, Schoberspitze in the background and Hochweberspitze on the left.



Nice fields in the Donnersbachtal valley.



Once again, I was impressed with the resistance of the Polycro Plus groundsheet. This time, because not suffering any damage after a night on blueberry plants.

Polycro Plus and Grosser Ödstein peak (Gesäuse national park) at sunset.



Sparafelds and Admonter Reichenstein summits from the Modlinger hütte (hütte = hut).



Another hike I completed was the circular route "Stubaier Höhenweg" (Stubai High Route) whose higher part coincides with the Zentralalpenweg.

The first afternoon I saw a storm coming, but I continued hiking a little bit more, and more, and more... until I had to urgently set up my shelter anywhere. I was in the tree line limit and everything were slopes. I needed to set up the shelter fast because the storm not only came with lightning, but also with hail. It ended up being a bit precarious night because sleeping on an irregular slope.

First glaciers started to appear between the clouds, the next morning.



Regensburgerhütte and Falbesoner waterfall.



Habicht summit and the 360º Solo Tarp at sunset.



Ruderhofspitze and Östlichen Seespitze summits at sunrise.



Hohes Moos moore and the Regensburgerhütte.



Peiljoch Pass.



The most impressive thing in the Stubaier Höhenweg was the Sulzenauferner (ferner = glacier, in Tirol's dialect) and its glacial valley. The first view of the glacier caused me an immediate wow moment, but later it turned to a "how small we are" moment.

I have seen more glaciers, but this had something special.



It was sad to see that it's almost splitted up in two.



Once at home, it was even sadder to see older (not much older) photos of the glacier. Just google Sulzenauferner and click on images...

But the upper part is still wildly beautiful.




The valley has a lot of the typical features of a glacier area. Here, the terminal lake and the lateral moraine:



The lateral moraine was impressive by itself. Compare the size of the people in the picture (2 are on the ridge)...



It was really interesting to imagine how the glacier was in the past, just analyzing the size and position of the lateral moraines, the polished rocks...



People relaxing near the Grünausee lake.



The lake seems to have been generated by the Wilder Freiger glacier's moraine.



Gschnitztal valley with the Kirchdachspitze (spitze = peak) on the left.



Rock types.



Innsbrucker Hütte between green slopes, contrasting with the limestone walls of the Kalkwand (means lime wall) peak in the back.



View from the Pinnisjoch pass: Pinnisbachtal valley and Ilmspitze on the right.



Hiking long distance routes stretch by stretch means using a lot of public transport...

Stainach-Irdning train station with the Grimming peak behind.




...and usually not public one, like hitchhiking. I love it... when it works fast!



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