Many people dream of hiking the entire Eagle Walk, from the Kaiser Mountains in the east to the Arlberg in the west. Fabian Pimminger from Upper Austria recently made this dream a reality by completing his trans-Tirol trek comprising 320 kilometres, 24 stages and 23,000 vertical metres. In this interview the 26 year-old talks about his experience.
Fabian tells us about his five best and five toughest moments as well as simple things such as good food and experiences in huts which he will remember for a long time.
Your five best moments on the Eagle Walk?
“There are countless moments which I could tell you about. If I have to choose five then I guess they would be the following.”
1. Lake Hintersteiner See
“Right at the start of the hike, on Stage 2, when I could see the Hintersteiner See lake almost all day and then, after many kilometres of hiking in 30-degree heat, was finally able to jump into the water.”
2. Birkkarspitze mountain
“Or on Stage 11. The weather forecast for the next days was bad: heavy rain, flooding, thunder and lightning. I wanted to complete a crossing of the Birkkarspitze mountain, but because of the poor forecast I spoke to the owner of the hut I was staying at about other alternative routes I could take. In the morning I woke up and the weather was good – there was even a bit of sunshine – so I was able to climb the Birkkarspitze after all as planned. That is definitely one of the alpine highlights on the Eagle Walk, so I was really pleased that I had managed to tick it off my list.”
“Two days later I came back down to Innsbruck for the first time (Stage 13). After a few days away from civilisation it felt good to enjoy the benefits of urban life – for example, a big breakfast buffet at the hotel where I was staying and a burger with chips and coke.”
4. Evenings in the hut
“Other special moments include the many entertaining and interesting evenings in the huts where I met a lot of great people.”
5. Lake Zireiner See
“Finally there is also a moment from Stage 7. On the way from Steinberg am Rofan to the Erfurter Hütte hut you pass the Zireiner See lake. The weather was good, so I stopped off at the lake, sat down and simply soaked up the incredible atmosphere.”
Your five toughest moments during the hike?
1. Crossing the Birkkarspitze mountain
“Crossing the Birkkarspitze involves climbing almost 1,500 vertical metres, including a number of quite tricky sections. That was definitely one of the toughest moments, especially because the walk to the Halleranger Haus hut is long and really steep towards the end.”
2. Rain and snowfall
“The stage to the Württemberger Haus hut was pretty tough too. It rained the whole time and even snowed for a while as the three of us climbed up to the Bitterscharte ridge. The route itself was not all that tricky, but the bad weather and the cold made it a real challenge.”
3. Two stages in one day
“The toughest moment was of my own making! I decided to complete Stages 21 and 22 in just one day. Each stage on its own was, for me, too short for a whole day’s hiking, so I decided to turn them into one long day with 18 kilometres and 1,800 vertical metres, including a very tricky technical section. It was as tough as it sounds :-)”
4. March through the Gaistal Valley
“But it’s not always the high alpine stages which are hard. The connecting stage between Leutasch and Ehrwald had 27 kilometres of hiking through the Gaistal Valley. My feet were aching by the time I reached the Grubighütte hut! If you have the energy, it is definitely worth climbing to the summit of the nearby Grubigstein mountain. The views of the Zugspitze mountain are spectacular.”
5. Ascent to Lamsenjochhütte hut
“Last but not least there is the stage from Maurach to the Lamsenjochhütte hut. The first 90% of the stage is nice and easy along Lake Achensee and into the Falzthurntal Valley, but right at the end you have to climb almost 1,000 vertical metres along a series of switchbacks leading up to the hut.”
The five best meals you had in the huts on the Eagle Walk?
1. Goulash soup
“Number 1 was without a doubt the moment when, after having hiked through rain and snow, we reached the Württemberger Haus hut and were served a bowl of hot goulash soup. It wasn’t just because we finally had something to warm us up – the soup itself was excellent as well.”
2. Alpine burger
“Another culinary highlight on the Eagle Walk was the “alpine burger” at the Grubighütte hut made with their own organic beef and served with homemade ketchup. That was definitely one of the best meals I had.”
“The best “Kaiserschmarrn” (thick pancake with raisins chopped into pieces) was at the Kaiserjochhaus hut. Light and fluffy, but at the same time crunchy, it was served with apple sauce and a drizzle of plum sauce on top”
“Lots of huts on the Eagle Walk serve “Schweinsbraten” (roast pork), especially as the standard meal you get if you take the half-board option when staying the night. I think the best of the many I had was at the Karwendelhaus hut. Even if it was served with potatoes instead of the usual dumplings, it was perfectly cooked with a thick, crunchy layer of fat.”
“A top tip for hikers staying at the Gwercherwirt is to try the fresh trout. It is delicious and a nice change from the heavy food which is the standard fare in many huts.”
The five most enjoyable overnight stays at huts?
1. Gaudeamushütte hut
“The Gaudeamushütte hut in the Wilder Kaiser Mountains is where you end the first stage of the Eagle Walk and is a great way to start the hike. It has recently been renovated and offers very comfortable accommodation at 1,270 metres above sea level. From the sunny terrace you have fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, and the owner Anni serves excellent food.”
2. Loreahütte hut
“At the other end of the luxury scale is the Loreahütte. It is the only hut on the Eagle Walk where you have to fend for yourself – there is nobody there to welcome you or cook you meals. That doesn’t mean that you have to go without good food. The only difference is that you are responsible for preparing it yourself! On the other hand, it is a real experience to spend the night at such a small and cosy place.”
3. Anhalter Hütte hut
“Talking of small and cosy, the Anhalter Hütte hut was also one of my highlights. The owner Carmen is very friendly and many parts of the hut have remained unchanged for the last 100 years ago. Very charming!”
4. Karwendelhaus hut
“The Karwendelhaus hut run by Andy and his family is THE basecamp in the Karwendel Mountains. Its hearty “Kaiserschmarrn” and “Schweinsbraten” are the perfect way to fuel up on energy for climbing the Birkkarspitze on Stage 11. Andy goes from table to table after dinner to talk to his guests about the weather and hiking conditions.”
5. Patscherkofel Schutzhaus hut
“The Patscherkofel Schutzhaus hut is a great place to enjoy Innsbruck by night. Things begin to get interesting when the sun goes down and the mountains are bathed in hues of red and orange. A few minutes later the city lights in the valley far below start to come on and create an impressive show at night.”
Five reasons why you would recommend the Eagle Walk to a friend?
“The Eagle Walk is first and foremost a personal challenge – physically, psychologically and from a motivational perspective. I would recommend it for people who want to set themselves a goal and reach it. It is a good way to push your boundaries and learn more about yourself.”
2. New friends
“At the same time, hiking the Eagle Walk is a great way to get to know other people. It is really easy to make new acquaintances by sitting down together at the same table in a small hut in the evening or meeting up again with hikers you have seen before during previous stages. People you have never met before become friends with whom you spend fun evenings in the huts. ”
3. No mobile phone
“With new friends and acquaintances, it doesn’t matter if there are days on end when you don’t have any mobile phone signal and are more or less cut off from the outside world. That is a special part of the experience which should be emphasised. These days we are bombarded with messages from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It is easy to forget that all those things aren’t actually that important.”
4. Less is more
“And talking of things which are not that important, you learn to live with just the basics. Every extra piece of clothing or equipment weighs down your rucksack, so before I set off I thought hard about what I would really need. You quickly notice that the answer is: not much!”
5. Getting to know the mountains
“The last reason why I would recommend the Eagle Walk is Tirol itself. You have the chance to hike through the whole region from east to west. That means you can look back on where you have come from and see just how far you have already made it. You notice as the landscape changes and you get to know the different characteristics of the mountains.”
Visit www.tyrol.com/eagle-walk to read more about this long-distance hiking trail in Tirol.