Climbing the Tirolean Alps

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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.