Above an altitide of 2,000 metres freedom should be endless, and yes, it really is. Being so near to the heavens and so far away from everyday life – this is the feeling that propels me time and time again up to the mountain tops.
As I open my eyes first thing, the morning sun welcomes me. I feel a tingling in my stomach and just the thought of the day’s mountain tour conjures up a smile on my lips. After a hearty breakfast there’s a short drive up to the valley station of World Cup ski arena in Zauchensee. The car park is still quite empty before the lift opens at 9.00 am to travel in comfort up the mountain. It’s at this point I realise that we’re up earlier than most.
Where does the path lead?
The laces on our walking boots are quickly tied and off we go. The fresh mountain air drives away any last remaining tiredness. Apart from me, my companion and the peacefully sleeping cows on the edge of the meadow there’s not a soul to be seen. At the first turning we have to decide – either to head up to the Strimskogel or to conquer the Steinfeldspitz. After deliberating briefly we decide on the latter.
The view down the valley is amazing!
Full of determination we head on further until we miss the right path by 25 m as we were chatting too much. Whoops! We turn back and remain standing. The view back to Zauchensee and Altenmarkt leaves us speechless. The Zauchensee Lake, nestling beautifully in the resort of the same name, looks really small from here. The saying “don’t ever look back, keep your destination in view”, doesn’t apply. By the way a small tip – when hiking it’s often worth taking a look behind you!
Not for gossips
We tear ourselves away from the view and search for the path, that we originally wanted to take. Then one thing is clear – the view from the peak cross is in no way inferior to the view into the valley. We quickly find the right path, which is admittedly difficult to overlook. Well, what can I say we were so deep in conversation. The path becomes steeper quite quickly and our conversation, interspersed with heavy breathing, gets less and less. We also stop more to drink. It’s anyone’s guess whether the drinking stops are really for drinking or an alibi for a quick chat.
1,2,3 Vertigo free
The next turn-off makes us stop for a while, as we have to decide which path to take. Should we head up to the Bärenstaffel or take the more demanding route to the Steinfeldspitz? As I never had a head for heights as a child, I wonder if anything’s changed in the past years. I’ve been able to conquer more and more metres in altitude and dare to take on more demanding tours. For this reason we decide to turn off right towards the Steinfeldspitz. My fear of heights is really not so pronounced as in previous years although we head up along a stony ridge.
Peak cross in view
The loud rumbling of our stomachs reminds us that we’ve been going for quite some time. A muesli bar rekindles our energy levels in order to conquer the last part up to the peak cross. The spectacular view into the distance before us makes us stop and stare again and again. One or more snow-covered peaks sparkle in the distance. I especially always enjoy the last steps up to the peak cross. This unique feeling of seeing something so extensive and lovely and having achieved an ascnet is something very special.
„Berg Heil!“ (hail the mountain), my friend calls over to me and I reply the same happily.
After some refreshment I pick up the peak guest book and search for an empty page. According to the peak guest book we are the first hikers on the Steinfeldspitz today. After short consideration we choose a saying my Grandma always used to repeat:
“People who climb mountains reflect the sunshine. Others who remain in the valley do not understand this language.”
Instagram and mountains?
I’ve already documented the way up to the peak in my Instagram Story and before we head back down into the valley a photo of the peak cross has to be added. You can share your peak photos with us on Instagram at #salzburgersportwelt or find a tip for another picturesque hike.
Now that we reach a wider path, the first hikers are coming in the opposite direction, coming from the mountain station of the Gamskogelbahn Cable Car. How do I know these hikers haven’t come very far? Just looking at their shoes and it’s obvious that this group is just up here for a short walk. As gym shoes or sandals aren’t really suitable for peak hikes. Walking boots were invented for a reason.
Be a child again
We pass the Gamskogel Hut and see the adventure playground, which is called “The Animals’ World Cup“. I can see the children are really having fun playing and I’d just love to try out the stations myself.
Back down in the valley the car park is busier. We look back contentedly and breathe in some more fresh air before we climb happily into our car and head home.
Photo Credits: Katja Eggenhofer