When preparing our second road trip in Europe we were greatly influenced by our first trip in 2017, and knew that a walk in Austria had to be on the cards for 2018 on our way to Slovenia to climb.
It has become a bit of a tradition to use books from the Cicerone series for our walks around Europe and up till now it has been a very successful way of finding interesting routes. (Although I think the routes in these books are a little tame for us, but that is another story). This year however after reading the whole book as we normally do during the planning stages of a trip, we were a little disappointed. The main focus of the book seemed to be on walks that had refreshment stops available, rather than on the walk itself. Making the walks shorter and less adventurous. However it was our only source, so we adapted to it and chose a route.
We did route 76 from the book, it is a grade 3 circular route where the highest point is the col Tor at 2033m with views over Dachsteinsudwandhutte (mountain hut), it is in the area of Filzmoos and we chose this route due to it looking like one of the most off the beaten track circuits. This year our dog Milly was with us again. The rule is having the dogs on the lead, however, having a well trained dog and a bit of common sense to put it on the lead when there is livestock meant that she was free for most of the walk.
Parking is free at a big lay-by on the road at coordinates 47.444378, 13.581303, 6km from Filzmoos across from where the route begins where you will find a little security hut and a barrier, because the road is a private to vehicles. From this point you have 2 options, you can pay the man that drives a minibus up the road from the entry barrier for 5€ per person, or if you don’t fancy being ripped off, you can just walk the 2km to where the route really starts. For this route we bough the map the book recommends and can say that we are spoilt with UK maps. It is of very poor quality with no durability.
From the barrier just follow the steep tarmac road up hill for around 2km, at some of the zigzags, you can take shortcuts on a very visible path off the road that saves some time and make the route more interesting. At around 2km, there is a path on the right hand side where you have to deviate. This is the real starting point.
From here you should head north west for around 1km before heading north. The track on this section is beautiful, walking through meadows covered in flowers following the line of the river steadily up hill along a very well marked path. You will find sign post at every junction and marks on trees and rocks with the Austrian flag, similar to those found in many other countries. The route is really idiot proof, and very easy to follow with the map.
As you walk up hill on your right hand side you see 2 lines of mountains one behind the other, the path you are going to follow goes between them. After heading north/northeast for less than 1k, the vegetation gives way to a very rocky landscape where its very likely you can hear and maybe see your first alpine marmots.
4.4km from the beginning of the walk, the path continues heading east along the valley towards the col. The valley extends west to east, therefore the snow accumulates on the north side of the mountain on your left, the views up hill and downhill are amazing, a very intense contrast between the grey rock, the snow and the green of the sparse vegetation.
You continue up the valley to the col for around 1.2km, the path is still very well marked and very visible for most of the way. When you get to the col be prepared for strong wind coming from the other side of the mountain and with it a sudden drop in temperature. The view to the other side are on a par with the ones you just passed. The col is at 2029m.
Descending less than 2km on the other side of the col, was a more complicated task, it is a lot steeper, and lots of lose rock and snow made the way down harder than the way up, there are a few paths very similar close together going down, but all of them finish at the same place, a flat open area surrounded by mountains where the snow accumulates creating interesting textures.
From this point the path descends steadily for a short time then it starts heading up towards the hut that you can see on the top of the hill, the track is still very visible at the base of the very rocky mountain.
The route in the book continues up to the hut, but as we weren’t interested at all in having any food or drinks there, plus Milly was starting to suffer with sore paws from walking on the scree for so far, so we decided against it and headed down towards Bachlalm at the junction below the hut following the path 671.
The path extends south west for almost 4km till it meets the private road a tiny bit further down the road from the starting point. From there, retrace your steps back to the car park. The descent is the only part of the walk where if you aren’t focused on the path, it can be a bit tricky to follow when it gets to the river, but apart from that is very straight forward. Just be aware of the livestock being around for putting your dog on the lead if you have one.
It was an easy walk with a total of 14.5km where we gained 1370m and managed to finish in just over 6.5h. We bumped into some people, but generally speaking it was quite quiet and didn’t feel as touristy as we expected.