I will admit, I had my doubts about this one. Right up until the moment I opened the light-dampening curtains of my guesthouse and saw that Austrian powder blue morning sky. Not a single cloud. I had no doubts about where I was hiking. Dozens of hikers would be heading towards the same destination as me today. Especially with weather like this.
The Ahornspitze is a 2973m mountain peak which is just 3 meters higher than the Schilthorn in the Jungfrau Region. The main difference is that whereas my starting point for Schilthorn was from Stechelberg with an elevation of 920m, my location in Mayrhofen was at 683m. I would not only need to beat my personal record for ascent, but I would need to shatter it. That is unless I chose to skip more than half of the ascent with the Ahornbahn.
As I woke up my 48-year old legs with some muscle warming gel, the options ran thru my head, some still attempting to rouse misgivings. It was the Devil himself on my shoulder at times. But deep down I knew there was only one choice. I finished some back stretches, chowed down on a couple carb-rich semi-stale pretzels, loaded up my backpack, headed out the door, and started making intricate calculations of ways to conserve my energy. This was going to be a long process. Not a step to be wasted. Every calorie accounted for. I had myself mentally prepared for the grueling climb. I had it all figured out. Then about 200m up the road…
….I realized I forgot my hiking sticks…
The formulas and enthusiasm in my brain crumbled like a jenga tower as I pouted and moped back to the guesthouse. But I had marked the place where I had to turn back, and after retrieving my sticks and reaching that spot for the second time in one morning, my mood amplified once more.
After hiking up a steep road by some other guesthouses, I finally reached the forest. In the distance I could see the Ahornbahn starting to take its first hikers up the mountain. It was as if the devil was laughing from the reflection of its windows. Screw you Ahornbahn. I am doing this one from the ground up. And with the click, click of my hiking sticks against the stony ground, I set up the path.
|Elevation Range||683 – 1440m|
|Elevation||1440 – 2040m|
|Elevation||2250 – 2973m|
|Starting Point||Mayrhofen (Landhaus Gasser)|
|Moving/Total Time||5h17m / 8h19m|
As expected, the way to the peak was crowded with hikers (not overly so). At no time on this hike did my Scaredy Bear alarm go off. The final ascent is steep and often has you putting away your hiking sticks in favor of just using your hands to climb up, over, and between the rocks, but the exposure is low. If you are still not convinced, then having other hikers around enjoying themselves also aids in maintaining focus. There is a short cable-assisted section between the two peaks but it is not a particularly scary section.
The view at the top was simply breathtaking. Perhaps in my modest hiking career, I have not witnessed such an impressive view. I could debate whether this or Uf Spitzen is my favorite, but the Ahornspitze is by far the most vast and rugged.
The time at the top was short-lived as the way up consumed several hours and it was still quite a jaunt to the Ahornbahn, whose last cable car down is at 5pm. I chatted with the other hikers, each of us helping to take pictures of each other by the cross that seems to be a traditional ornament for Austrian peaks. Each hiker I met had started from the Ahornbahn, and I have to admit that my self-satisfaction was bubbling over. I could feel the presence of the beloved blue butterfly, strongest since perhaps my trip to Thailand. I needed every bit of her energy this day. I didn’t want to brag as I was chatting with my new acquaintances. I held my tongue and kept it busy devouring a stick of wurst. But amidst the smattering of friendly small talk, I heard the words.
Where did you start from?
I raised an eyebrow and gave my full overbite smile…
On the knee-pounding way down, I decided to skip the over-crowded Edelhütte and not push my luck with COVID and headed straight for the Ahornbahn. By virtue of this fateful decision, I managed to follow the trail down behind a family of traditional Austrian folk singers (or German, I don’t really know). I tried to capture their singing on video but they are drowned out by my heavy foot stomps. However, they serenaded the latter part of the hike with their beautiful harmonies. It was a surrendipitously perfect finale to a perfect hike.
My updated Top 5 Ascents
|Location||Zell am Ziller, Austria|