July 12, 2021
When the alarm sounds at 3 am, I am still a little dazed. Everything is dark and peaceful as I sneak out of the bedroom and quietly put on my hiking boots. Our friends at Werder Bremen look surprisingly lively when we get onto the bus and set out towards the Gerlosberg. Judy, our hiking expert, is also there.
Where we usually ride down into the valley on sleds hooting and hollering in winter, we now drive up. The toboggan run on the Hainzenberg looks very different from this perspective. I recognize the curves that I race down on the sled in winter and smile. The memories of the snow refresh my mind and wake me up a little bit more.
We park our bus at the summit station of the Gerlosstein and head out. It’s already a quarter to four, and the headlamps light the way. Judy leads the way. My biorhythm is not really geared towards the nighttime adventure. Amazed by the fitness level of the hiking group, I bring up the rear. Oh well! They are top athletes. I should have thought of that beforehand!
The grazing cattle look at us ruminating and somewhat puzzled. Again, I wonder how these animals manage the long path up the mountain with their massive body and slender legs. But they manage!
Marie-Theres always talks about the “flat stretch“ that is about to come. “Just a little farther“, she says. I look up and at dawn I see the Gerlossteinwand, which rises about 500 meters above us. Flat? What exactly does she mean by that?
We climb up in slow, regular steps. We don’t speak much but are completely one with ourselves. We concentrate on our steps. Our eyes quickly get used to the darkness. The landscape has a calming effect; it is quiet. Our thoughts run free. The mountains are silent masters. As Goethe once said, “The mountains are mute masters who make for silent pupils”. And he’s right.
The year that lies behind us has demanded a lot from us all. Our business stood still, and the majority of our employees worked reduced hours. Such emergency breaking left a mark on all of us.
I look at the friends in front of me. They too have had a difficult time. The relegation to the 2nd division is troubling them. Which is more difficult – the climb or the descent? When you give your all, and in the end, it still wasn’t enough, then is the descent worse than the previous fight to the top? Or can you consider the valley floor as the destination where the ascent began? That very floor that you need to calm down and draw strength?
Our small hiking group stops to look down. We have made it halfway and look down into the peaceful valley. Many small lights twinkle down below like stars, and they meander through the Zillertal like a caravan of fireflies. The mountain peaks are bathed in a wonderous light. They glow pale orange, and the sky is a deep midnight blue. It is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s as if the peaks had burned and were still glowing.
The narrow trail continues to wind uphill. I take pleasure in the mountain pines that grow everywhere here. The geraniums and mountain valerian line our path. The alpine roses bloom in pink, and the many, many yellow blossoms of the globeflower light the way. How beautiful and pristine nature is up here. Our gaze wanders awestruck down into the valley. The view is breathtaking. We look out over the Zillertal into the Inntal and south down to Hippach and into Mayrhofen and Brandberg. Shortly before the summit, I discover blooming gentian – and look forward to enjoying schnapps on the summit.
5:30 am – We are there! We stand proudly at the summit cross and enjoy the cool wind that blows across our face. Everyone is happy to have made it and delighted that the sun is starting to rise. We pull out cell phones and cameras to capture the moment. We watch enchanted as the sun rises in the east over the mountain peaks. Immersed in a warm, golden light, the entire landscape looks soft and beautiful. It is a magnificent experience, and we know that every step was worth it! We have truly been rewarded with this natural spectacle. These are moments that touch our souls.
Schnapps on the summit is a must. It pleasantly burns as it runs down our throats and is more comforting than the watery coffee that Marie-Theres poured in the thermos while still half asleep. The sandwiches and bananas gives us energy for the downhill trek.
On the hike downhill, we are in a good mood and carefree. We hike through a mountain landscape that is surreally beautiful. Blooming alpine roses as far as the eye can see. Splashing water that tastes of subtly spicy cress. Fields full of cotton grass that I don’t pick because it is under protection. And the view of the giant, rugged rocks of the Gerlossteinwand that shine majestically in the light of the sun.
The day is still young when we get to the car. I feel great as we ride the bus back down the toboggan run. We are all in a good mood and full of anticipation for the delicious buffet that awaits us in DasPosthotel and MalisGarten.
While the athletes enjoy a balanced breakfast, Judy and I feast like world champions. We come to realize that the descent was simply gorgeous. It motivated us all to tackle the climb again. Strengthened by the knowledge that you climbed the mountain on your own….that you reached the top. With the view that was offered at the top of the summit and the natural spectacle of the sunrise, no theatrical play could have been more beautifully staged.
“The goal no longer lies on the summit but in the valley where the ascent began”, as Gustav Jung once said.
Mountain tour: Gerlossteinwand (2.166 m) Promising mountain tour on the magnificant Gerlossteinwand.
You can take the hiking bus or drive to the valley station of the Gerlosstein cable car in Hainzenberg. After the ascent in the cable car you will have reached the starting point of the promising hike at the mountain station of the Gerlossteinbahn.
The tour starts directly at the alighting point on the awardwinning hiking trail no. 8 in the province of Tyrol, heading right in the viewing direction of the Gerlossteinwand with a somewhat steeper ascent, which is why hiking in this direction is recommended. You will also be hiking in the shade in the morning and, on the flatter descent in the afternoon, you can enjoy the fantastic view of the Brandberger Kolm in the sun. After walking for approximately half an hour you will reach a small fork in the road just in front of two small wooden huts, which also leads to the Gerlossteinwand via ferrata. Here you can either head straight ahead and select the steeper ascent or take the right flatter path on the saddle of the Arbiskogel, which would make the
path to the summit approximately half an hour longer.
Once you have reached the summit of Gerlossteinwand allow the magnificent panoramic view of the Zillertal Alps, the Tux foothills, the Kitzbühel Alps and the Rofangruppe to work their magic! Make your way back on the return path downwards in the direction of Freikopf. At the fork in the road, turn left. A short ascent of approx. 5 minutes will follow until you reach the saddle, where you will then finally head downwards over the stone trough until you reach Heimjöchl. From Heimjöchl, take the left hiking trail no. 8 back to the starting point.
Source: Tourismusverband Zell am Ziller