A day after ascending the popular peak of the Zillertal Alps, Ahornspitze, I was ready to take on it’s cross-valley rival, Brandberger Kolm. Brandberger Kolm (Kolm, also spelled Kulm, means a rounded mountain crest) sits at around 2700m. While it’s elevation is a little less than 300m lower than Ahornspitze, Brandberger Kolm is by no means a slouch. While Ahornspitze garners all the attention thanks to the Ahornbahn taking some of the hiking sting away for dozens of holiday-makers, the Brandberger Kolm looms over the opposite side of the Ziller River with its own striking majesty untarnished by tourism, as if satisfied with less attention. It also holds the knowledge of a secret that only serious hikers in this region know.
Brandberger Kolm is arguably the more challenging and beautiful hike.
The best place to start the hike to the Kolm is from the namesake village, Brandberg, which involves a 15-minute steep winding road drive from Mayrhofen. There are a couple of places to park your car, but behind the church seemed a perfectly quaint start to the adventure.
You can really divide this hike into three sections where the point of convergence is the Brandberger Kolmhaus mountain hut. The first section is almost a brute force hike from Brandberg to the hut. By brute force, I mean that the hike seems to invoke a direct uphill approach more often than the zig-zag approach.
From the Kolmhaus, the second section, or the real ascent, begins. The way back to the Kolmhaus from the peak is the identical path and completes the second section. But rather than follow the same way back to Brandberg, I would recommend taking a little longer way around by following along a scenic panoramic trail which more gradually brings you back down to Brandberg.
|Starting Point||Brandberg Church Parking Lot|
|Moving/Total Time||4h40m / 8h37m|
|Eating Place||Brandberger Kolmhaus|
Hike to Brandberger Kolm
|Elevation||1130 – 1845m|
The Kolmhaus is by itself a place which must be visited, even without the peak hike. The seclusion, the view, the beer and food, and if you are as lucky as I was, someone will accompany the occasion with some accordian music. It is a haven both for hikers and mountain bikers. On the way up, I was the only guest and quickly guzzled a Coca-Cola to add some extra sugar and caffeine to my system before the big surge. On the way back, it was more crowded, and I savored it more with a couple of beers and a delicious bowl of goulash, my favorite mountain hut meal in the Alps.
|Elevation||1845 – 2329m|
|Elevation||2329 – 2720m|
|Elevation||2700m (internet), 2720m (GPS)|
As I was savoring my bowl of goulash, I was letting a certain fact sink into my mind with great personal pride. In consecutive days, I managed to achieve my 1st and 3rd longest ascents. However, by knocking off these two summits, I was wondering how I would tempt myself to return to the Zillertal Alps next year. Had I already done the best hikes? It was clear from the views that there are so many more possibilities and not just summits, but lush valleys and reservoirs as well. So much left to explore. I still felt so new to the area and much of it still remains a grey area in the map inside my mind, like the unexplored areas in a video game. The accordian music that was coming from the bench behind me, the rise and fall of happy voices, and laughter filled the air. Just like the day before with the family of folk singers, I truly felt at that moment in the Alps more so than anytime during the hike. It is these experiences that whisk me back to my early teens when the Alps were still a vast fairytale land in my mind. I tried to soak up the Appreciation like the bread I was using to dab up the final spicy juices of my goulash. A moment where the heart smiles with the purest of smiles and the blue butterfly dances in the air tickling your nose.
My updated Top 5 Ascents
|Hörnlihütte / Schmadrihütte (tied)||1360m|
|Location||Zell am Ziller, Austria|