Pfunders – Pfitscher Joch – Friesenberghaus. Snow! 

Day 17. Pfunders – Pfitscher Joch

Despite waking up several times it was great to be in our own room with good beds. I feel much better rested and the breakfast has several sorts of homemade cheeses! Our stuff has barely dried but it is still raining so the boots will get wet anyway! We set off at 7.30 am and luckily the rain is not too bad, rather light. We have to hike up from 1155m to 2644m altitude today! It’s a nice trail further up the valley, along the river. The top of the mountains are covered by snow. There is no real opportunity to take some break as it’s getting pretty cold now. 

At about 2000m altitude we start hiking in the snow, sometimes water, sometimes snow. It looks beautiful but our feet are really cold with our wet boots. The last part up to the Gliderscharte (notch) is pretty steep and exhausting and we arrive at noon.

Grindlberger See

It’s extremely windy and cold up there so we quickly hike down. We are getting hungry so as it is a bit warmer we just sit on some boulders and enjoy a quick lunch. Further and further down it goes, sometimes not easy to accept when you know you have to hike up again. We already saw the hut! At the lowest point for today it’s another 90minutes up and now it starts to rain and to hail. It’s getting really cold and it’s difficult to bear. I put my gloves in the backpack and in the rain I don’t want to take them out, making everything else wet. 

Finally, finally I am at the hut. I struggle to open the zips from my jacket as my fingers are too cold. But sometimes a surprise awaits you when you suffered, this time it’s a sauna! Included in the price for night, it’s open now and we are just three girls in there, warming up for twenty minutes. How awesome and unexpected! 
Now we are cozy warm and tired, getting the information from the other hikers about the trail. Some say part of the next section is closed due to the snow!  the hut tenant calls another hut for us and advises that we continue to this hut tomorrow and check if feasible, if not sleep there and very likely we can cross the following day. Great to have people care and check for us!
Day 18. Pfitscher Joch – Friesenberghaus. Snow. 

The look out of the window at 6.30am this morning shows white. White snow and white fog! We are only at about 2250m altitude but it must have been snowing the whole night. We start anyway and cross the border to Austria after a few minutes, just before missing the right trail – which I only realise after 15 minutes. So we hike back in the fog and try to find the right path. It’s not easy in the snow but once we are on it it’s rather easy to follow the right path and direction despite the fog and snow. And I actually really love hiking in the fresh snow! There aren’t any traces yet and the fog disappeares from time to time, allowing us to admire the beautiful white mountains around us. We are hiking carefully and slowly and the fog disappeares more and more.

At the Italian – Austrian border

Wintertime in August

The fog disappeares and we get some great views on the snow covered mountains

Between Unterschrammachkar and the Olperer hut the trail is made of 2500 tailored stones since 2006. With a special machine they were produced during the summer and allow us now to walk easily, mainly on stairs. It feels pretty weird though and you wonder why it was built… We can see the beautifully coloured artificial lake Schlegeisspeicher. 

Machine made stairs at this high altitude!

Olpererhütte

At noon we arrive at the Olperer hut and treat ourselves to something warm to eat. While our bodies stayed pretty warm while hiking, the feet got wet and cold again. After our break it’s another two rather easy hours to the Friesenberghaus. Just a lot of mud and more wet feet with the melted water. 

Friesenberghaus

During lunch we had already called the hut and we now have 2 beds in the dormitory. It’s a rather nice one with wide mattresses, but under the roof and very cold! 
Time sometimes passes by very slowly in the huts, waiting hungry for dinner, waiting before going to bed. It’s especially tricky if you can’t stay anywhere except the dining room because it’s just freezing cold everywhere else. 

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