21.07.2020 -- #

Spent last weekend trying to stay dry while exploring the end Zillertal valley. Hiking thought the clouds, cooking under a tarp, and driving a high alpine road back, it was a proper Austrian weekend.

We stayed in Campinplatz Mayrhofen on the recommendation of a friend. While not very wild the comforts of a clean hot shower where nice on such a rainy weekend. We pull in to the campground just before dark. Instead of setting the tent up right away we pitched the tarp and hung-out underneath cooking dinner, (more on the tarp setup below). Though not ideal conditions I definitely enjoyed staying in Mayrhofen and hope to return someday.

Drive up to Schlegeisspeicher

The original plan was to try and SUP on Schlegeisspeicher, the lake at the end of the Zillertal valley, but with the cold wet weather we planned a hike instead.

The drive up to Schlegeisspeicher was incredible. The road snakes through a rugged mountain landscape with forests, cascades, and waterfalls.

isolated Hütte <sup>1</sup>

isolated Hütte 1

falls visible from the road <sup>1</sup>

falls visible from the road 1

With very little traffic we could drive slow and take in the surroundings. Part of the road is so narrow there is a traffic light system on a timer. After waiting 15min you have some assurance you won’t meet anyone on coming

tunnel before dam

The whole drive up the scale is hard to comprehend. The mountain slopes get steeper and steeper rising up and disappearing into the abyss of clouds above. It’s like the for kilometres until right before the lake coming out of a tunnel you see this dam.



There was something about that morning. Mystical. Well worth all the rain.

view from the parking lot <sup>1</sup>

view from the parking lot 1

The Hike

Route Topo

With all the rain we didn’t want to get too high so we settled on a going around Schlegeisspeicher then up to one of the lower Hütten.

rock slide

rock slide

falls on to the trails

view out over Schlegeisspeicher <sup>1</sup>

view out over Schlegeisspeicher 1

I’d love to come back someday and SUP these cold waters. There is also a higher lake in the area, Speicher Stillup, that I’m interested in trying the paddle around.

tributaries of Schlegeisspeicher

tributaries of Schlegeisspeicher

alpine flowers <sup>1</sup>

alpine flowers 1

spotting some cows across the valley <sup>1</sup>

spotting some cows across the valley 1

high alpine cows

high alpine lizard

The trail is relatively mellow around the lake and up the valley behind. Then it takes a left turn directly up the side of the mountain. Rising into the cloud layer we couldn’t see much.

view up to Pfitscher Grat, 2767m

view up to Pfitscher Grat, 2767m

I was surprised to see so much snow. Made me long for ski touring season. Wow last season was incredible. You can read all about it in my blog posts from earlier this year.

sheep near  Furtschaglhaus <sup>1</sup>

sheep near Furtschaglhaus 1

Furtschaglhaus was honestly pretty disappointing. As we walked up a dog came out to greet up. I reached down to pet him. Bite. Damn dog tried to take a chunk out of my hand. I ended up clenching a fist at the last second so he didn’t do me any damage.

The hütte most be a popular stop over for Mountaineering parties. We saw two groups equip with ropes and ice axes. Reminds me I would love to continue my education in alpinism and learn more about mountaineering. This year has been tough for that goal. Without access to the climbing gyms its hard to build confidence for larger climbs. So far it’s mostly been a few sport climbs here and there.

Great hike for a rainy day.

New enamel kitchen set

When I camped with my grandparents many years ago they used blue enamelware for cooking around camp. Now I’m starting to build out a car camping gear set of my own. Enamelware is top on my list. So far I’ve got a kettle and two enamel cups.

enamel cup <sup>1</sup>

enamel cup 1

I wound not say they are the best for holding in heat but they are tough, easy to clean, and for me an old time camping tradition.

Second trip with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX2

Setups up fast, head room for two, very dry. The new MSR tent is working out well. Starting to learn the tricks. Ex: Leaving the rain fly not completely zipped and also not zipping the inner mesh all the way improves ventilation greatly. Another trick is to leave the poles in when taking it down so you can hold them to bring the entire tent into the air. With the doors zipped open and held in place give it a good shake. All the dust and sleeping bag feathers come falling right out.

As summer goes on the nights in the Alps are not that cold anymore. Sleeping bags are too hot. Solution? Hüttenschlafsack! Something similar to a sleeping bag liner back in the States. It’s a cotton sheet folded and sewn into itself making a human sized sheath. Somehow never had one growing up camping in the U.S.. While their main purpose is for staying in Hütten, Small Mountain Lodges, they work great for hot summer nights in a tent atop of a sleeping pad.

wet outside, dry inside

wet outside, dry inside

The Tarp!

My 3x3 meter tarp! I bought it last year as part of my Corsica trip. After dragging it across the island solo backpacking I found it not to be much use. Only used it one night to extend my bivy but it ended up just getting wet and taking a while to dry.

cooking and hangout spot night one

cooking and hangout spot night one

So a bit big and heavy for solo backpacking but car camping. But car camping? It’s perfect! When combined with two treaking poles and a car / tent we found some dry and comfortable configurations.

breakfast spot overlooking schlegeisspeicher

breakfast spot overlooking schlegeisspeicher

night two cooking while one person stays warm and dry in the tent

night two cooking while one person stays warm and dry in the tent

Surprising how much room you have underneath when using the poles. Definitely adding this tarp the mandatory gear list for car camping.


Thanks for reading. It a challenge to still travel while being responsible in regard to Corona Virus. Rainy weather on this weekend meant the camping was not full and the trail not busy. Hopefully we can do similar trips in the future.


1 Photo by Exposures Photography
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\- [ alpinism, camping, hiking, austria, holiday ]