You wake up, walk over to the window, draw the curtains wide and see, in the distance, countless mountain peaks glowing red in the rising sunlight. There is absolute silence but the mountains call.
For some, breath-taking moments like this are rare but it’s a scene which greets Tirol’s mountain huts every morning. As a native of East Tirol, I’d like to introduce you to my personal choice of the region’s best mountain huts, where you can expect magical moments like this again and again.
Karslbader hut | Lienz Dolomites
A real highlight for all climbers is the Karlsbader hut in the Lienz Dolomites. Located on Lake Laserz (Laserzsee), it’s the ideal starting point for climbing expeditions on walls of up to 1,300-metres. In recent years, the Karlsbader hut has been renovated and slowly extended. The fantastic view from the sun terrace is utterly spectacular, with the 3,000-metre peaks of East Tirol’s mountains on one side and the idyllic Laserzsee, surrounded by impressive dolomite walls, on the other. More information on Karlsbader hut can be found at www.karlsbaderhuette.at
Volkzeiner hut | Villgrater Berger
A little further down, and northwest of the town, is Volkzeiner hut in Außervillgrater Winkeltal. The refuge is easily accessed by car, via a mountain pasture. Once at Volkzeiner hut, I’m always impressed by the expansive Alpine pastures and rugged mountain peaks here. Popular tour destinations from the hut include the Hochgrabe (2,951m) and Große Degenhorn (2,946m), each with a walking time of three hours; or Regenstein (2,891m) with a walking time of five hours. The Volkzeiner cottage is a quintessential mountain refuge – quaint and quiet, it’s basic but has all the essentials. More information about Volkzeiner hut can be found here.
Obstansersee hut | Karnischer main ridge
Another favourite hut of mine is the Obstansersee hut in Hochpustertal. Amongst other things, it’s the starting point for ascents in Eastern Tirol ‘s Gailtal Valley, and for walks to the village of Kartitsch (around three hours’ away). Located on the Carnic mountain path, the Obstansersee hut is a popular stop for hikers. Renovated in 2003, the refuge sleeps up to 44 people in shared dorm beds and 18 people in beds/bunks; it’s advisable to book ahead. Due to its location, the view from the Großlockner extends to the Sexten Dolomites in South Tirol. Further information on Obstansersee hut can be found on the Austrian Alpine Club’s website.
Sajat hut | Venedigergruppe
My all-time favourite refuge is Sajat hut in Prägraten. Located in the Venediger Group mountains, many refer to it as a ‘mountain castle’ because, as you know, castles are always built in prominent and prestigious locations, just like the Sajat hut. At the end of a lush but very steep mountain meadow the hut perches high above the Virgental Valley in Sajatkar – the place which gives its name to the hut. The 31 beds in 2 -, 3 – , 4 -, 5 – and 6- bed rooms all benefit from hot water and heating, helping to create a cosy and comfortable cottage atmosphere. The hut also serves excellent Tirol specialities. For climbers, the Sajatkrone Route is a fantastic tour of all ‘Seven Summits’ in the Sajatkar region. All information about Sajat hut and the local tour options can be found at www.sajathuette.at.
Stüdl hut | Glockner Group
Last but not least, a shelter which should be on every list is the Stüdl hut, below the Großlgockners in Hohe Tauern National Park. The Stüdl hut takes its name from Johann Stüdl from Prague who, among other achievements, founded by the Kals Mountain Guides Association. The hut’s architecture is particularly impressive and is equipped with the latest technology, such as photovoltaic and thermal solar panels, and a vegetable oil powered power source for residual energy use. It’s a fantastic example of sustainable Alpine tourism. With room for 114 people to sleep, there’s ample space for anyone who wants to tackle an ascent to the Grossglockner summit. The Eagle Walk also leads directly past this hut, making it the ideal place to stay for anyone conquering stages O18 and O19.
To get a better idea of what to expect at the shelter, take a look at the video below, which was taken by the landlord himself.
I wish you a pleasant and accident-free climbing and hiking season and I hope to see you soon at one of my favourite huts!