The lonely, alpine Pfunderer Höhenweg (Pfunderer Mountain Trail) in South Tyrol in the North of Italy tests the limits of alpine mountaineers. The path, marked by a red circle with white border, leads through unspoiled mountain landscape. Following secluded paths, you won’t meet many other hikers on this challenging route.
The steep and exposed trails will take you up 19,685 feet (6,000 m) of altitude in total. Some sections have ropes, whilst others require you to use your hands to navigate the tricky terrain. As long as you are sure-footed, have a good sense of orientation, and don’t suffer from vertigo, you will enjoy the technical paths.
Your effort is rewarded at every step with fantastic alpine panoramas, wild rocky landscapes, picturesque alpine meadows and lonely mountain lakes. From the high peaks, you have an unforgettable view across the Dolomites, the gigantic Zillertal Alps and even as far as the Ortler and Marmolata mountains. A hike along the Pfunderer Höhenweg is an unforgettable adventure.
You can find a more detailed travel report on my blog.
What did I miss the high mountains! I'm on a lonely mountain trail. Where? South Tyrol again and again. I was only in the impressive mountains of Pfunder last autumn. Until then, I did not know that there was a demanding mountain trail with a lot of space / height meters between the huts. A path that runs almost only between 2,000 and 3,000 meters. In addition, lonely, exciting and genuine. So made for us.It is 70 kilometers from Sterzing to Bruneck, the first 17 we did today in this impressive mountain world. And that was not a cardboard handle! The paths are incredibly steep, there are 1,400 vertical meters on small, narrow paths that drop steeply on the sides, extremely strenuous - I was pretty tired in between.However, this is how we really worked out these fantastic views. Dolomites, Sarntal Alps and the large Zillertal glacier peaks in the north, simply brilliant. And Lotte? Play again with the Almhunden 🙈. We are on the wonderful Simile-Mahd-Alm, what an idyll here.
What a day! I honestly don't know how to get this day in one post. We spent a long time thinking about whether we should even start the night before: A storm front should move across the Zillertal Alps today. We threw the ascent of the 3,135 meter Wilden Kreuzspitz overboard and started our boots around 7 a.m. We were really overwhelmed by this rugged and lovely mountain world, which was constantly presented to us from a different perspective. One "wow effect" chased the next. The absolute highlight was the Wilder See, simply phenomenal, as it lay there between the mountain giants.At the junction to the Kreuzspitz - the weather had lasted until then - we started to stagger, but we didn't want to overuse our luck. A wise decision! Shortly afterwards thick clouds of fog, later biting rain, ice hail and shortly before the last yoke finally the thunderstorm. We spent the ice hail shower lying over our dog Lotte to protect her. Then it went off again quickly from the mountain, into the bivouac sack and wait until the thunderstorm passed.When we got back up, the mood was just magical. We covered the descents on the snow fields continuously or sliding and when I finally saw the wonderful Brixener hut and the Wurmaulspitze (it was there last year), I was just infinitely happy. Now I am lying in the comfortable winter room, next to me a cyclist, a satisfied dog and the marmots whistle happily ...
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I tell you, this mountain trail is definitely not for the faint of heart. So in all respects. Here curses alternate cheerfully over steep and demanding paths with jubilant cheers about this untouched and exciting mountain world.There were three passes to conquer today, one more promising than the next. But it's steep here, man. Thin mountain air, narrow, steep paths and the heavy backpack meet a fit Romy, a combination that tests my limits.But the good news is, today it got better out the back, so I'm getting fitter. At the end of this stage, the rope-insured crackling was a challenge that we mastered well and safely. Now we have arrived at our great bivouac - our refuge for tonight - and very happy.
So on this hut tour the weather god is not on our side. Yesterday we started around six, because the weather was super unstable all day. In addition, we did not go the original route via the Gaisscharte, a heavy rope-insured passage. We should have rappelled Lotte over a few places, I had practiced that at home. But when it is wet or even thunderstorm? Better not. But the bypass was also beautiful, as wonderful as the Eisbruggsee showed us. And the cloud mood in the mountains is awesome anyway.Maybe I'm a little bit in love with Lotte or a little more. As great as the old lady, scrambling across the block like a mountain goat and demanding snowballs on old snow fields.
This is the "normal route" from the Brenniger bivouac to the Edelrauthütte via the Gaisscharte. You should only go this route in very good and stable weather conditions. Fog, wetness or even thunderstorms are life-threatening. It would not be the first time that mountain rescue has to intervene here.The path is not recommended with a dog, only if you are absolutely sure-footed and not afraid of heights, have a proper climbing harness for the dog and can also abseil correctly over several meters. I also described the circumvention of the Gaisscharte via the Valsscharte in this collection.
From mountain lake to mountain lake, from hut to hut, from sea of clouds to sea of clouds. Again we tried to defy the unstable weather today. We started from the Edelrauthütte around 7 a.m. in the mild light of the rising sun. A minute later I was just about to start laughing. In the morning, it's actually not the right time for me, but Lotte was just wonderful. Throw yourself into the first steep snow field in front of us and sled happily, half-tumbling down. What a joy to watch so much zest for life at work!We went down at the fantastic Eisbruggsee, later over the first notch and what could we expect? A dreamy panorama of the Dolomites with Geislerspitzen, Langkogel & Co., which is slightly overcast by clouds, was really relaxed for Pfunderers, after all, two hiking shoes fit comfortably next to each other. The last climb was almost 200 meters in altitude through the old snow field and in a steep gully, but again challenged my sullen muscles. The dream view over to Austrian glacier-covered mountain giants and down to our stage destination of the Tiefrastenhütte definitely compensated! And we arrived dry - perfect!
Done! After six days we reached Bruneck this evening, so to speak on the last groove. Man, this high-altitude trail really demanded everything from us again. However, contrary to the forecast, the weather was very good. All around us are clouds, above us a blue hole in the sky that happily wandered with us - we somehow deserved it.We got off the Tiefrastenhütte in the morning and were accompanied by an Almwirt. He had to look after his cows, sheep and goats after a thunderstorm in the night that paralyzed the entire electrical system in the hut. While chatting, the descent went by quickly before we started the ridge hike towards Bruneck. Always fine over hills - along the ridge it was only up and down. The great cloud mood made the tour, on which we even climbed five 2,000 m peaks, perfect. The last peak, the Sambock, demanded everything from us with a lot of climbing and a rope-secured passage before we started the final descent of 1,600 meters in altitude. That really cost the very last reserves.This mountain trail has challenged me mentally and physically like no other mountain trail. I'm more than happy to have made it. All the more I take my hat off to Lotte, who didn't itch at all (except for the thunderstorms) and always booted in advance with a wiggling dog's bottom, as if the only purpose of life was to go hiking in the mountains ...