Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Climbing the Tirolean Alps


You can add “climbing the Alps” to the ever-growing list of things I never thought I’d do — but ended up doing anyway!

One great thing about TBU was that post-conference blog trips were included in the price of attending the conference.  There were lots of trips to choose from, and I ended up on — naturally! — the Action Adventure trip.

Our first activity — climbing a mountain.

These mountains.

EEK!  (Have I mentioned that I’ve never done anything remotely like this before?)

What’s nice about hiking in Innsbruck is that you can get a free guide, free hiking boots rental (make sure to bring your own hiking socks) and a free shuttle to the trail!  I love how accessible they make hiking — anyone can do it.  Find out more here.

Our excellent guides were Hans and Georg, true mountaineering men — their love of hiking was infectious, and they made anything look easy!

We began by taking a train to the mid-base at Hungerberg, where we caught two gondolas to the top.

And yes, it was in the middle of August, and there was snow everywhere.  We began our hike with two and a half hours hiking upwards through the snow.

The views were magnificent.  I have no words to describe the beauty around me.

After a particularly tough slog uphill, we stopped at the top — and just stared at the mountains around us.

Here’s a video — you can see how out of breath I was!

After the upward climbing, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant on top of one of the mountains.

We then found out that after thirty minutes hiking upward, we would soon be hiking downward for the rest of the hike.  Yes!

And we got to that point where we could look over the city of Innsbruck — and learned that we would be hiking all the way down.


Who knew that hiking down would be the most difficult part of all?!  You need to bend your knees and keep a wide stance (heh) to keep from falling over and it takes a LOT out of your knees (if you have bad knees, downward hiking is the last thing you should do).

I must admit that I was the remedial hiker of the group.  Hans insisted I hold his poles (and after a few automatic “Thatswhathesaid”s, I reluctantly agreed), and they made it so much easier to find my footing, as well as taking off some of the pressure on my knees.

It deserves mentioning that Melvin “saved my life” at one point — I started falling forward in extreme slow motion and he grabbed me by the shoulders!  (In all likelihood, I would have been stopped within a meter by a tree, but still…scary stuff!)

And now I owe him.  I need to pay him back somehow…

But by then, a miracle happened — it was summer again!

We took a much-needed break on the side of the mountain.  I filmed another short video:

It continued in that fashion for the next few hours.  Soon, the trail became less steep, and I happily gave up the poles.

And we made it all the way back to Hungerberg!  I can’t even begin to describe how good it felt to know that I actually climbed an ALP.

I am so proud of myself for doing this, and of my group as well.  Left to right: me, Paul, Mike, Scott, Pia and Melvin.

Our final route:

We took the train to Hungerburg, then two gondolas up to Hafelekar, near the top.  We hiked around the top, had lunch behind the mountain, and ended up at Plesheitte (top right corner) before hiking all the way down to Hungerburg again.

As Mike said, “We didn’t go hiking today — we went mountaineering!”

Thinking of hiking in Tirol?  You should!

Hiking in Tirol is absolutely amazing, and since Innsbruck makes it so easy to do, I highly recommend that you devote at least one of your days in Tirol to hiking!  Just know this:

You must be in very good shape to climb the Alps.  I consider myself to be in reasonably good shape, and while I never thought that I wouldn’t make it, it was extremely challenging.  And for days later, my knees hurt so badly that I could barely walk down stairs.

But I would do it all over again — each and every day — just to experience these views.  And that made it worth it!

Our Action Adventure trip was sponsored by Innsbruck Tourism and Tirol Tourism.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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23 Responses to “Climbing the Tirolean Alps”
  1. Katie says:

    So gorgeous!! Add a new term to your vocabulary for hiking followed by cracking open a beer: mountainbeering. (google that for a blog dedicated to the tradition)

  2. Erin says:

    I sooooo wish I could have joined on this trip! The pictures are incredible. Hope you treated yourself to a big fat Octoberfest cookie after the long hike – you deserve it.

  3. How great! We just climbed the Tyrolean Alps in Obergurgl, austria and spent the night at the Ramolhouse Hut at over 3000 meters. The hitch- with 3 kids (ages 6,8, and 10!). It was very challenging but we were so proud of ourselves! I agree it is perhaps our greatest adventure ever.

  4. Melvin says:

    No worries, Kate! You are welcome! (I won’t forget so soon!) 😉

  5. Amanda says:

    Wow, those views are amazing! But, if you considered yourself to be the remedial hiker in the group, I shudder to think how much I would struggle… Lol. I don’t know if mountain climbing will ever be for me. But I think I’d at least be up for taking the gondolas to the top! Can that count? Haha.

  6. Our spa adventure ended up not at all being relaxing, should have just come climb mountains with all of you!! Looks like it was incredible!!

  7. Looks like an amazing adventure! Kudos to you for hiking the Alps! Not many people can say the’ve done that!

  8. An amazing but tiring day and one that I’ll always remember.

    Forgot how much you struggled to walk the day after 🙂

  9. What an amazing hike!!! These pictures are absolutely gorgeous.

  10. Looks amazing! I love how you got to experience the views with snow and then enjoy the sun later in the day. Would love to do this hike someday!

  11. Matt says:

    Stunning shots Kate! You’ll be well set for NZ whenever you make it to this area of the world if you keep up the hiking!

  12. Stephen says:

    This whole series of posts, but in particular this one, have me scrambling to work Innsbruck (and,by extension, Austria in general) into an upcoming stop through Europe. You sell the place well!

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  15. Anna says:

    This. Is. Awesome.
    So, this summer I was in the Bavarian Alps and OMG I AM IN LOVE! And then – after Bologna and E-R agriturismo in the middle – I was flying back to Moscow from Florence via Vienna, and cabbed into town for my 4.5 hr layover. The city stunned me! So of course I am already planning my 2016 vacations and I started looking at horse farm stays in Austria (with the car, I learned my lesson in E-R), but in the Alps region, and I am looking at Innsbruck in particular. “Hm… I wonder if AK has been to Austria and what she had to say about it….” – and OMG have you! So many posts! I dont think I’ll be chasing Mozart or The Sound of Music, but hiking, riding, boating etc are RIGHT up my alley. And this particular hike of yours is just the kind of thing I’m looking for. What time of year was that? And how touristy is it in the summer?

    • Oh yes! This was in August and we actually hiked through snow at one point. It wasn’t crowded until we got to the restaurant on top of the mountain. The hike was just us. But again, this was a very tough hike for me and I couldn’t walk for days!

  16. Georgina Walker says:

    hi! This looks like an amazing hike, in an amazing place! I have been to Austria several times but this year I would love to spend one or two weeks walking and hiking in the Innsbruck /Tirol area. I am in my early 20s and keen to find a way to do this staying at a farmstay or something similar, with the chance to meet and walk with other people similar to me! I was wondering if you have any tips/websites/information on finding groups which young people use/places to stay in Austria? Thanks in advance! Georgie


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  1. […] di sentirmi di nuovo Heidi! Questo TBU è caduto a pennello Mi spiace solo di non aver potuto scalare un’Alpe o di aver mancato un’occasione per fare rafting, però bisogna anche accontentarsi a un certo […]

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