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Organised & Self-guided Walking with a Genuine Specialist

Each September, Collett’s offers the opportunity of a week of high level walking on the GR11 in the Pyrenees. We follow five consecutive stages of this world renowned long distance footpath – showcasing some of the best hiking in the Pyrenees amidst stunning landscapes dotted with mountain lakes and spectacular views – To book click here

The final few weeks of each summer season bring a change to proceedings in our Spanish Pyrenees resort of Panticosa. For two weeks only our team splits operations and two dedicated organisers leave the day to day goings on in resort to join guests on a five day tour of one of the world’s best walking trails. Five days of walking and one additional rest day back in Panticosa sees the group spanning three valleys, skirting along the Spanish side of the French/Spanish Pyrenean border.

For the first week of the GR11 2016, Cam and I (Colletts walk organisers) were lucky enough to be those assigned to the trail with a group of eight due to arrive on Saturday evening. We prepared our maps and routes, checked the weather for the week ahead and collected our walk packs, then headed across the Hotel Sabocos (Our base in the Pyrenees) to greet them.

Once everyone had been shown to their rooms and settled in we reconvened on the terrace to share in a welcome drink. As Panticosa became bathed in a soft evening light we perused our routes and began to get to know each other. Soon enough it was dinner time and headed into the restaurant to tuck into our first three course meal of the week. As usual Hotel Sabocos didn’t disappoint and with a healthy accompaniment of house wine we reached the end of the meal satisfyingly full. It was time for bed for tomorrow was the start of our GR11 week.

Day 1 – Canal Royal and Ibones de Anayet

14.5km/9 miles – 900m of ascent – 600m descent

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The next morning with walking gear on and ready to go we caught a lift to the Valle de Canfranc. An impressive start point the cliffs here are as good an introduction to the Pyrenean landscape as any other. Towering, tiered mountains toy with the nature of a Wild West film whilst grassy plateaus allow for a more alpine angle. At the time of year our GR11 walks run the landscape is just being touched by the first breath of autumn, so as we posed for a team photo and shouldered our packs we started a steady ascent into a golden grassed, glacial valley.

We scaled the side of a gentle river for some time, its banks scattered with rosehip, pausing briefly at the overgrown ruin of an old rifugio. The further we climbed the more highly the valley walled us in, building to an impressive crescendo and soon enough we had reached the head of a glacial amphitheatre. It seemed as if, to the untrained eye, that we had reached a dead end. The way ahead was the steep back wall of the murrain so we pressed ahead towards it in order to find our path, passing bell-necked cows and dried up river beds.

The group settled comfortably into their uphill paces and we began to climb an unobvious track amongst the copper green and purple scree to the high point of the day. Steadily we climbed high above the valley, improving our views as time went on. We made sure to take plenty of breathers to make sure the views were fully appreciated.

We were rewarded at the top by a dramatic change of landscape. Most noticeably in the distance were the peaks of France, in particular the Pic du Midi D’Osseau (2,884m). The Pic du Midi is a regular in the Pyrenean vista, with a recognisable twin peak and dark rock. It positioned itself behind the wide, shallow Anayet lakes, making for a stunning photo opportunity which we all took advantage of.

From here the group split into two. Cam offered to accompany people on an extension to a further peak whilst others who were keen to descend to the end of the walk could stick with me. We watched as Cam’s group paced off up the hill then turned to wander across the flat, grass land, passing grazing horses and a good smattering of the classic red and white striped GR11 markers. As we reached the edge of the plateau we left views of the Pic du Midi behind us and were instead greeted by the Infiernos. Picos del Infierno (Hell’s peaks) consist of three peaks, the Western (3073m), Central (3082m) and Eastern (3076m) all of which are joined by an exposed and impressive ridge. From a distance these mountains seem as if they are home to an enormous snow patch when actually the dark rock is instead divided by a smooth marble slab. These mountains quickly became my favourite view in the area.

The path dipped lower into the valley, chasing a stream into the midst of a system of ski lifts. The area is home to a popular ski resort in the winter months and we were heading to base of numerous ski lifts to finish our walk for the day. As we arrived into the lower valley a number of helicopters made an appearance and continued to circle for some time. After a certain amount of hypothesising their purpose for being there we remembered that just over the hill was the finishing line for that days Vuelta stage (Spain’s answer to the Tour de France). Sure enough as we climbed into the resort mini bus at the end of the walk by Dan (One of the Pyrenees team), we saw all of the team buses packing away and heading off to their next destination. An exciting way to bring the day to a close!

Cam’s group arrived back at Hotel Sabocos just in time to shower and join us for a well-deserved dinner.

Day 2 – La Sarra to Refugio Repromuso

10.6km/6.5 miles – 800m ascent – 100m descent

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We snaked our way up through narrow mountain roads in the minivan to our trailhead. We were heading for some hydroelectric works north of Sallent de Gállego. The area is tied together by a network of hydroelectricity plants and pipes stemming from reservoirs, Franco’s stamp on the area. They fit in quite well with the landscape, snaking up the hillsides to water towers and dams higher up the valleys, trapping enormous and beautiful bodies of water. The van dropped us off by the reservoir’s lapping waters.

We walked up through the trees for some time, pulling steadily away from the river down to the right. As we gained height we found ourselves above an impressive gorge with steep drops. The trees here were definitely showing the first pulls of autumn and the colours in the canopy were scattering a beautiful light on the path. Eventually our tree cover broke and the gorge opened up with views of a few large waterfalls. This was our turn off point for the Ariel lakes. These lakes aren’t on the GR11 trail but instead provide a lovely detour and addition for what would otherwise be a very short and easy day. For anyone who wanted to head straight to our accommodation for the night (the Refugio Repromuso) they would need to head straight on towards the largest right-hand waterfall. Our whole group turned left however and began our steep climb up to the lakes. It was a long pull up over lose ground and narrow tracks but we took it steadily with plenty of breaks to help ourselves to the wild raspberry bushes that lined our way.

The last part of the climb reminded me of the landscapes seen in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. Great shards of rock clung together to create an epic entrance to the lakes. The rock was the colour of rusted iron and cadmium yellow. We had lunch by the first lake on a grassy outcrop jutting out into the water. We were walled in on all sides by scree slopes and boulders and some derelict buildings on the far side of the basin suggested old mining works in times gone by. It was very peaceful and a gentle breeze rolled across the water to meet us. After we’d eaten and enjoyed the sun for a while we climbed up to the next two lakes, each one more beautiful that the last. Pico de Pallás (2974m) provided an impressive backing for the last lake where we had the place completely to ourselves. In fact we didn’t see another soul until we arrived at the reservoir Repromuso. We approached on a high mountain track, well above the valley below. We were at eye level with many of the great peaks for a good amount of time and then dropped height towards the dam where we watched a helicopter delivering supplies by winch.
It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached Refugio Repromuso. Its triangular red roof was recognisable from quite a way off. Cam had skipped ahead to sort out our keys and room so we met him there and then enjoyed some afternoon nibbles with a well-deserved beer.

What remained of our afternoon was spent chatting in the bar, taking our things up to our dormitory room and waiting for shower space. It was the proper mountain experience. Repromuso was a real hub, people from all over the mountain spilling in from outside. Mountaineers, climbers and hikers all together, from all over the world, sharing their day’s experiences. It was great! Cam and I got chatting to a couple of French guys sharing our room who had been ticking off a number of peaks in the area. They had some amazing photographs to share and we muddled through with our basic French and their better English.

There was still an hour before dinner and all of our guests seemed happy busying themselves with showers and unpacking so Cam and I took a stroll outside to watch the sunset. We walked up onto a hillock next to the refugio and watched as the light turned a rich, burnt gold. The sun settled perfectly into a gap in the mountain view, above the dam wall. It was silent and peaceful and exactly why both of us love the mountains. A bruised dusk overtook the lake and the water suddenly looked unfathomably deep. Little waves picked up by the increasingly cold breeze lapped heavily, moving with an oily thickness. It was time to head inside to the cosy warmth of the refugio.

When we returned the place had come alive. Everyone had finished showering and come down from the rooms and off the mountain. Instead they had filled the dining room with a buzz of people. There was a great atmosphere and everyone queued up at the bar to receive their dinner. It was a hearty three course of soup and a roll, sausages and rice and a yoghurt. We were joined once again by our French friends and we shared stories and wine until it was time for bed.

It was lights out at 10pm so Cam, Tony (one of our GR guests) and I headed up onto the roof to spy the stars. It was pretty cold but worth it for the lack of light pollution and the starts were getting better by the minute. The Milky Way stretched out across the 3000m peaks, knitting together the glacial bowl. We even saw a few shooting stars. Not a bad way to finish a day in my books.

Join us next summer hiking the GR11

2-9 September or 9-16 September 2017 – £775 per person (excluding flights)

To book click – Hiking the GR11

If the Dolomites are the home of jagged, cliff hanger peaks, and Austria is the centre of well-organised Alpine tourism, then Spain is wild. Gone are the lift stations, regular buses and crowded viewpoints. Instead, tucked just behind the idyllic coastline of Northern Spain is a land of rolling vineyards, sleepy villages and wildflower meadows. The Picos de Europa is one of three locations in Spain that Collett’s have on offer along with the Pyrenees on the French/Spanish border and Andalucía in the South.

 

Hermida Gorge

When thinking of Spain many imagine it to be dry, dusty and hot, hardly the environment for walking right? The Picos however is a coastal gem. Only an hour from the nearest section of coast Tama, our home in the Picos, sits just beyond the Hermida Gorge. The Hermida snakes its way though the coastal line of mountain defence that was first named by sailors upon return from the Americas. The hazy peaks mark the northern edge of Spain and serve as an impressive indication that land is close! Modern visitors will appreciate the same view on the approach of the Bilbao or Santander ferry. In many ways the Picos is like a land that time forgot. Designated a National Park the locals take pride in their traditions and their homesteads. Many of the farmers still cut their fields by hand, livestock are collected at the start of the summer and taken up to the higher pastures on foot and cider apples are pressed and lovingly to made into the bittersweet drink. Up until recent times higher farmsteads were still only accessed by zig zagging mountain tracks.

The slow introduction of tourism to the area has seen the construction of the occasional funicular, museum and conversion of old mining lifts into cable cars but in the most part the joy of this area is being able to get away from it all. On the walks here it is rare that you’ll see that many other people around. Quiet tracks and woodland paths navigate a landscape that has a lot to offer. The Picos boasts deep, limestone gorgers, rocky moonscape plateaus and glacial scarring in some areas which serve as enough challenge for those looking for higher level walking. Those who prefer easy/moderate walks can explore the lower valleys which are home to extensive wild flower meadows, golden farm land, thick pine forests, vineyards and fig trees. There’s plenty of wildlife too with bears, wolves, vultures and eagles inhabiting the area and in the spring the hills are painted with wildflower colours.

The Green Coast

The close proximity to the coast means that weather rolls in from the sea, clashes with the mountains and keeps the area green and luscious, hence the name ‘Costa Verde’ or the ‘Green coast’. The Picos experiences is fair share of this weather with snows in the winter and storms in the spring. Evening rainstorms keep the land healthy and as a result it has become in many ways like the Alpine hills we know of in Austria or France. This combined with a pleasant Spanish heat means the area has a very unique feel. Spanish people from the South come up to the area to escape the high temperatures in mid-summer to enjoy the mountain air.  The rain that visits overnight makes a habit of clearing as the morning progresses, making way for blue skies by midday. The evenings are long and warm, perfect for a cerveza on the terrace at the Posada el Corcal when office hour comes around.

The drive to the coast is scenic and the time flies quickly by as you approach seaside towns such as San Vincente de la Barquera. Towns like this have become surfing hot spots and the golden beaches and clear water are still in view of the mountains. A dip in the sea here is a welcome change for tired legs and many Camino walkers pass through on their long journey to Santiago de Compostela. The towns themselves serve fresh seafood and the paella is great as expected.

Activities

There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained too. Local outdoor adventure companies run canyoning and kayaking trips just a short drive from Potes, the main town in the area. Surf schools rent boards and offer lessons at a good rate on the coast and the gorges are home to plenty of climbing routes and even a few via ferrata! There’s also horse riding, bike rental, cave visits, paddle boarding and much more that could easily fill a week or so holiday.

So if you’re looking for a new European destination, away from the crowds and with a great cultural combination of land and sea then the Picos is the place to go!

Europe is famed for its mountain ranges and the culture surrounding them. The Alps in particular attract around 120 million visitors every year who come to take in the landscape, traditions, wildlife. We’ve already looked at the history of the Alps and its climate, now it’s time to look at Alpine plants and animals. 

Plants and vegetation

The Alps are home to many kinds of plants, many of them specific to the area. Full, colourful meadows are rich with wild flowers and dense forests in the lower regions are home to many species of deciduous trees.

In the higher regions, evergreens like spruce, pine and fir trees thrive and when climbing higher still, at around 1700m/2000m alpine meadows, mosses, shrubs and unique flowers like the edelweiss are commonplace. In the highest plains intricate rock gardens nestle between moonscape boulder fields.

Rarer species such as the lady slipper orchid can be found in the Alps and many flower species that can be found across the world have their own Alpine twist due the soil or affecting climate.

 

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Animals

Animals specific to the Alps have had to evolve to adjust to the harsh Alpine climate it is thought that there’s at least 30,000 animal species including 80 types of mammals and 200 species of birds. Thicker coats, hibernation patterns and specific diets have all come about due to the high altitude and harsh winters.

Ungulates: Chamois are native to Europe and thrive in the rocky Alpine environment. They are somewhere between a mountain goat and antelope with a thick coat that changes from brown in summer to grey in winter. They are easily recognisable short, curved horns, white face with black markings and a black stripe along its backbone. Chamois are protected by law.

Ibex are well suited to navigating steep rock faces and lives above the tree line. They can have long curved horns which made them a popular target for hunters in the early 19th century. They were brought to the point of extinction during this time but now there are tens of thousands of them in the Alps. In the winter months Ibex move to lower ground.

Rodents: Marmots are the most well-associated rodents with the Alpine environment. This squirrel/guinea pig-like rodent can weigh up to 14 pounds measure more than 2 feet long at times. They emerge in spring after hibernating in the winter months. During the winter they wake up intermittently to feed from specialized stores within their burrows. They live in family groups and are very territorial. The family territory is unlikely to change throughout their lifetime and their intricate burrow systems even include nurseries for young and waste elimination areas. They can be heard from long distances letting out short sharp squeaks that serve as a warning of predators or other dangers. They have look-outs in a very similar way to Meer cats.

Invertebrates: There are 30,000 animal species in the Alps, 20,000 of which are invertebrates. There are many types of spiders and beetles at high altitude despite the harsh climate and lower down butterflies and moths can be found in great numbers in the flower meadows. Even the hardy snow flea enjoys the iciest parts of the Alps.

Birds: 200 species of bird can be found in the Alps another 200 species again pass through in migration. Golden Eagles, Vultures, buzzards and hawks all patrol the skies. Friendly mountain chuffs join walkers and climbers on the highest peaks and the Wallcreeper’s vivid red wings flit about the rocky canyons and cliffs at high altitudes.

Amphibians and Reptiles: The Alps are home to fifteen types of reptiles and 21 amphibians. The Alpine salamander prefers humid, grassy or wooded areas and will come out after rainfall or at night. It also hibernates however so may not be easily spotted. It excretes a toxic liquid so mustn’t be touched. Many species of snakes, lizards, newts, toads and frogs can also be seen.

Carnivores: In the late 19th century the Lynx became extinct in the Alps due to vanishing food sources and hunters. It was reintroduced to the region in the late 20th century, but is still sparse and in need of close monitoring. Other reintroduction programmers include that of wolves and bears.

Some of the Alps highest and most well-known peaks:

  • Mont Blanc 4809m
  • Matterhorn 4478m
  • Jungfrau 4158m
  • Ortler 3905m
  • Gran Paradiso 4061m
  • Finsteraarhorn 4274
  • Eiger 3070m
  • Weisshorn 4406m
  • Grossglockner 3798m

For more on the Alps, download our guide  here, our Alps infographic here or visit our Alps landing page here.

Translated as “iron way”, Via Ferrata can be one of the best ways to access the mountains without the need of complicated gear or technical climbing ability. Steel cabling is attached to natural lines in the rock at intervals creating protected climbing routes for all abilities and often include the assistance of steel rungs, pegs, steps, ladders and bridges. Basic technique, specific but simple equipment and a head for heights are needed for routes that can range from easy scrambling to steep overhanging climbs that demand strength, exposure and fitness. These routes allow people to access the mountains using a method somewhere between high level walking and serious climbing.

 

Even the “easiest” of grades can feel airy and exposed in places so shouldn’t be taken lightly. That being said the views are almost always expansive and rewarding and the climbing enjoyable when you get into the rhythm of it. The descents tend to be a mixture of down climbing on wire and scrambling but sometimes it’s possible to simply walk off.

Here in the Dolomites, home of the Via Ferrata, there are hundreds of routes. Many come to the area just to explore them especially as it is possible to link many together, staying in rifugios overnight.

History

The majority of the Dolomites VFs were constructed between 1915 and 1918 during WW1, to aid troop movement when the Italians and Austrians were fighting. Ropes, ladders and tunnels were laid into the rock so that soldiers could transport ammunition and supplies high up into the mountains to places of strategic importance.

In 1930s the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) and the Societa Degli Alpinisti Tridentini (SAT) began working to improve access to routes in the Dolomites. They took care to follow natural lines in the rock and kept climbing aids to a minimum and replaced the ropes and iron with the steel cable we use today. Many of the routes deliberately don’t access summits so as to encourage climbers to enjoy the VF, not just use them as a tool to get to the top.

In the 1970s and 80s tourism benefits were recognised and they were further developed by alpine clubs, local communities, outdoor centres, cable car companies and rifugios.

The very first VFs date back to the 19th century due to the growing popularity of alpine exploration and tourism. The first recorded VF was on the Hoher Dachstein, the second highest mountain in the Northern Limestone Alps in 1843. In 1869 a rope was fixed between the summits of the highest mountain in Austria, Grossglockner. Then in 1873 fixed protection was added to the Zugspite. Austria’s example was followed in the Pyrenees in 1880 when protection was added to the Pic du midi d’ossau in 1880 and the Ordesa 1881. Other routes then began to spring up in the Northern Limestone Alpa throughout the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Locations

Over one thousand Via Ferrata now exist most in Europe and around the world. Here are some of the best international Via Ferrata locations around the world.

  • The Dolomites: Italy has around 400 routes. More than half of these are in the Dolomites. It is regarded as the home of the sport and rightly so.
  • Austria’s boasts approximately 550 Klettersteige routes of all difficulties.
  • Chang Kong via Ferrata in the Shaanxi Province of China includes a tough trek up steep/near vertical steps, a gondola ride and rickety plank walk to the Taoist temple and teahouse.
  • Ogden Via Ferrata in Utah is accessed only by guided tours but is a great choice for beginners with its specialist training wall. Climbing on the vertical walls of Waterfall canyon the views of the waterfall, Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake and the surrounding ski country make it a destination of choice.
  • Chamonix is a popular location for thrill seekers from all over the world with extreme climbing, skiing, paragliding, base jumping and much more it’s not surprising that it has a VF too. The Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier sits up above the town and the VF route starts from the town centre. Ladders descend from the train station onto the MDG climbing trails and end at refuge du Courvercle. France itself boasts around 200 routes.
  • In San Juan mountain range, Colorado sits Telluride. This is a popular location for outdoor sports, especially during the winter season. The VF follows an old mining trail with impressive vies of Box Canyon.
  • Yes Africa has a Via Ferrata. In fact it has the world’s highest in Mount Kenya national park. At 16,355 feet above sea level the VF climbs through the dramatic canyon crevasse filled terrain of an extinct Volcano.
  • The Aletsch in Valais Switzerland is the largest alpine glacier at 46 square miles. The VF route circles a dammed glacial lake turned reservoir and includes steep cliffs, tough hiking, and the longest suspension bridge in the Alps. Switzerland has around 150 routes in total.
  • The Sacred Valley VF, Ollantaytambo, Peru has a 984 foot vertical climb up steel rungs. From the top views of Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River can be taken in before making the choice between rappelling down or taking the often preferred zip wire!
  • Coldback Mountain VF at Isafjordur, Iceland is the countries only Via Ferrata. It traverses a narrow ridge before scaling the side of the mountain with expansive views of fjords below.
  • United Kingdom: Though our mountains may not be as big we too have Via Ferrata. Honister VF in the Lake District is in an old slate mine. Climbers are given the choice of classic and extreme. The more extreme version has more exposure, vertical climbs, a bridge and cargo net crossing. There’s also a VF in the Yorkshire dales at How Stean Gorge.

Grades

There’s a number of ways of grading VFs.

  • The Smith and fletcher scale is widely used and numbers them 1-5. One being the most basic and five the most difficult. The Dolomites now has a 6 too.
  • The Kurt Schall guide books grade them A-E (F was also recently added). In this system Via Ferratas can also be intermediately graded, for example C/D.
  • The website www.klettersteig.de also uses 1-6 as a climbing scale.
  • In France they use the following system: F Facile, PD peu difficile, AD assez difficile, D Difficile, TD tres difficile, ED extrement difficile.

Here in the Dolomites we use the following scale to explain VFs to our guests: 1-5 (The technical difficulty of the climb itself in terms of exposure, hand and footholds etc. Sometimes the scale will extend to 6) and A-C (The remoteness of the VF in terms of aid, escape routes etc). Cia Spitz for example is an excellent entry level VF and is graded as a 2A. Whereas Magnifici Quattro is the most difficult Dolomites VF at 6B.

Equipment

All you need is a harness and a set of tails/lanyards (Two carabiners attached to you by a piece of rope or safety cord), a helmet and a good pair of shoes. As long as you have a good head for heights these routes can get you into places that would be impossible to hike normally. You get the achievement of a big mountain day without as much difficulty as an actual climb. This not only makes it an attractive choice for the less experienced but also well-practised climbers as they can cover a lot of ground quickly without needing a climbing partner. That said it is best to do these routes with company for safety reasons, like any big mountain day.

Originally VF climbers used to use carabiners fixed to short lengths of rope/slings attached to the chest or harness. Although effective at keeping the climber on the wire this did not prevent serious injury as the short length of rope was unable to absorb the energy of a fall. Gaps in the anchor points mean the fall factor (a scale to measure impact force effected by the climber’s height, weight and the rope/gear they are using in event of a fall) can be much higher than in normal rock climbing. Therefore the risk of equipment failure and serious injury was high.

New devices have been designed as shock absorbers or progressive brakes with the aim to dissipate the energy of a fall.

Modern VF sets use one of two systems.

The first and more popular will have an energy absorbing system, usually an extra length of coiled rope/cord that will release with great enough force. It is sewn together specially to allow progressive tearing. It can only be used once if a serious fall has happened.

A metal braking device with a rope passing through it to the harness is the second design. The device provides large resistance if the rope is pulled which gradually absorbs the energy. The advantage of this is they can be used multiple times after a fall. However a fatality due to equipment failure in 2012 with this system means that they have been largely withdrawn and are often less favoured.

VFs can cover a lot of ground and varied terrain. Depending on time of year, altitude and location the equipment that should be taken changes greatly. A helmet, lanyard and normal climbing harness should always be worn. It is important that climbers do not try to construct their own VF lanyards using rope and or slings due to the high falling force. On long, harder VFs special padded gloves may be worn and in some of the WW1 routes head torches will be useful for sections of tunnels. During early season or if attempting a winter VF crampons, ice axes, rope, and belay devices will be necessary. In terms of footwear it comes down to personal preference. Some like to have sturdy boots, especially if attaching crampons whereas others prefer approach shoes. As long as they are tough and have good grip it should be just fine.

For more information on any Via Ferratas in the Dolomites please don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff in one of our office hours. VF kits with helmets, harnesses and lanyards can be hired easily and inexpensively close to the chalets and guidebooks are to hand with excellent route descriptions. Via Ferratas are a fantastic way to see a new side of the mountains, up close and personal.

The winter is drawing to an end with our final week of guests. The snow is receding from the lower slopes and with the changing of the clocks the warm afternoon sun is a perfect opportunity to enjoy a spritz after a day of spring skiing. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite times of year. The warmer weather brings with it a gentle breeze, a sign that the winter has run its course, time to turn one’s attention to the summer ahead. Here in the Dolomites it won’t be long before the snow covered hills become flower filled meadows.

That said, there is still plenty of good skiing to be had and we have been out on the mountain most days making the most of the last week of the season.

 

Last week we went to check out a Dolomites favourite, the Hidden Valley. Starting at a height of 2,752m, the run stretches an impressive 11km, winding its way down from the top of the Lagazuoi cable car back down to Armentarola where you can re-join the Dolomites Superski area. Lagazuoi holds historical importance after its involvement in WW1 as part of the Austrian front. Because of this it is also a popular destination in summer, as it is possible to climb the full height of the mountain inside the tunnels dug out by soldiers approximately one hundred years ago. If this doesn’t appeal then the cable car will whisk hikers and skiers alike, over sheer Dolomite cliffs, to the top of the mountain.

Lagazuoi Rifugio

From here we made a visit to the Lagazuoi Rifugiowhich offers incredible panoramic views of some of the most impressive and recognisable peaks in the Dolomites. We enjoyed the sun and a quick expresso before stretching our legs on the black run that twists its way down from the summit, back down to the cable car again.

Then it was time to head down the Hidden Valley itself. With the best weather we could have hoped for and the sun on our backs we started our descent, stopping from place to place to take in the views. It is completely and utterly isolated from civilisation and the reason behind the name becomes apparent very quickly. The run is a mixture of gentle, undulating tracks higher up where the valley is wide, then is frequented by slightly wider and steeper pitches as you drop down lower between impressive high walls. Ice falls cling to the rocks either side and glint in the light that falls through the gaps in the peaks.

Rifugio Scotoni

Rifugio Scotoni is a welcome stop for many, sitting roughly half way down the valley. It has an excellent reputation for its food, including an enormous mixed grill! This is another attraction to the area that can be enjoyed all year round –I first visited on one of our summer walks to the area.

Just a bit further on and the slope flattens out into Capanna Alpina, a tree filled basin with another pleasant Rifugio nestled at its base. With a bit of a skate the group pushed on to one of the biggest attractions of the day. The horses!

Getting back to the resort

Getting out of the Hidden Valley and back to resort by your own steam would be quite an undertaking as the terrain almost completely flattens. Therefore upon arrival at the bottom a collection of horses and carts stand in wait for skiers. For the price of just €2.50 each, up to fifty skiers can take hold of two long, knotted pieces of rope and hold on determinedly as the horses pull you back to the resort! Admittedly I was a little nervous at first but as soon as we were moving and away I started to enjoy the novelty of it all, and soon enough it was time to jump back onto the lift and ski back into resort.

All in all it’s easy to see why the Hidden Valley is a favourite for many who visit the Dolomites. With fantastic views, lovely skiing and impressive surroundings on offer, it all culminates in a truly memorable way to end the day -Who else can claim to have been towed through the mountains by horse and cart with skis still on foot?

For more information or to book your trip to the Dolomites go to our Dolomites landing page.

The final three days of Beth Lloyd’s ski safari in the Dolomites features skiing in Kronplatz, sunset over the Alta Badia valley and some tips on where to eat.

Check out days 1 – 4 here.

Day 5

Time to move on again! Everyone assembled in front of the hotel with their bags packed and ready. I was feeling fresh after an especially early get up at first light to catch the sunrise. Ironically the best photo of the morning was taken hanging out of the bedroom window.

There was a little more leg work required of us today. Our next destination was the Kronpatz/Plan de Corones ski area and this time we were taking our bags with us! So, all heavily laden, we caught our train out of San Candido for a scenic half an hour journey towards Brunico. The platform is right next to one of the main bubble lifts so as soon as we disembarked we beeped ourselves through the barriers and with skis, bags and the kitchen sink we headed for the top.

Kronplatz is a great location, it is essentially a dome with a crown dotted with lift stations and pistes leading off in every direction. In terms of navigation, if you get lost all you need to do is head back to the top again and you’re back to where you started! This doesn’t mean that the skiing is limited in any way –it’s a big place, with connections on to other ski areas including St Vigilio and Piculin.

 

When we reached the top we had a short ski ahead of us to reach the Panorama hotel. Many were a little nervous of how their technique would be effected by their heavy backpacks but everyone made it safely down. The highlight however had to be Chris’ wheelie bag. He was catching the eye of many bystanders as he extended the handle and attempted to wheel it down the piste behind him. Brilliant.

Eventually we all reconvened at the Panorama hotel, our accommodation for the night. It’s perched on the edge of the piste with a view that, as it name suggests, stretches for quite some way. I was happy to see the Alta Badia valley after almost a whole week away and all the familiar mountains that I have come to know and love. We moved our bags inside and got a coffee before getting organised and heading out for a ski.

As the day progressed the weather moved in and our view slowly disappeared, taking with it any hope of a mountain sunset. But nevertheless the skiing was good and the instructors kept everyone busy concentrating on their posture and the like. I started the morning with Pietro’s group, skiing some of the steeper black runs, including my favourite, Sylvester! We got to see the famous Concorde bell at the very summit ringing out at twelve and we even bumped into a hosted ski group from chalet Angelo!

The whole group met up again for lunch at the top of Kronplatz at the restaurant Cima –owned by a very friendly, and slightly eccentric chap who kept exclaiming “BELLA!” Every time he arrived at the table of ladies.

In the afternoon I joined Diego’s group to ski the longest run at Kronplatz, Percha, which stretches a full 9km from top to bottom. Understandably everyone by this point had rather tired legs so the rest of the afternoon went at a more leisurely pace –apart from when a straight running race was suggested and competitiveness kicked in.

Eventually we retired to the Panorama refugio where we got the spritz’ and beers in and relaxed in the bar until dinner time. Dinner was lovely and filling, as usual and a few grappas in the bar after went down very well indeed (especially the homemade pinecone one) as we watched the lights of the piste bashers as they trundled about outside. Snow started and the wind picked up a little making the refugio seem cosier than ever!

Day 6

We woke up in a cloud. A thick, grey, snow-filled mist that had the whole of Kronplatz enveloped. The views that we’d been greeted with the previous morning had gone and the snow that had replaced them showed no sign of stopping. Nevertheless we muscled together our bags ready to go and met in the bar for a pre-departure coffee. It was at this point that I found out that the day wasn’t to be as straight forward as hoped! The heavy snow and strong winds overnight had been the cause of high avalanche risk on the passes and roads towards where we needed to travel next and it soon became apparent that our original plan of continuing over the Gardena Pass and towards Ortisei wasn’t going to be possible. Thankfully the owner of the Panorama refugio was a very good friend of our ski instructors and immediately offered us an extra night so we had somewhere to stay. Gratefully, we replaced our bags in our rooms and set out into the snow for another day on Kronplatz.

Initially the weather was difficult, the visibility wasn’t the best and the light quite flat. But within an hour the cloud had lifted and the light improved considerably! This brought with it the chance to ski some amazing fresh powder snow, and the instructors popped on and off the piste with everyone following suit with varying degrees of confidence and success. It was soft landings for anyone who took a tumble though and it was great fun.

We had a play on some of the race courses, fun parks and speed skiing tests that are dotted around the resort too. It was a great morning and no one seemed particularly bothered that we hadn’t gone on to a new area.

We returned to our lunch spot from the day before and were greeted again by the eccentric landlord who provided us with homemade pastries after lunch alongside coffee.

In the afternoon we played a little more in amongst the trees, making again for very tired legs so we returned to the Panorama to put our feet up and settle in the bar. It was nice to be in our little mountainside refuge again.

We were treated by a very unexpected but welcome sunset just before dinner and everyone ran outside to take photos and look out on the Alta Badia valley. The storm had finally lifted and the last light of the day flickered across the mountain tops. I was glad to have stayed one more night so as to witness it.

Day 7

It had to be done. My alarm buzzed enthusiastically and I persuaded myself out of bed and pulled on my clothes and jacket. With camera in hand I let myself out onto the refugio balcony just in time to see the very first light of day. The sky was completely clear and a perfect crescent moon hung above the Marmolda, Queen of the Dolomites. It was bitter cold and crisp as the light gently ebbed into the horizon. Lisa joined me shorty after and we trudged out onto the fresh corduroy piste to watch the bright orange sun arrive on the shoulder of the Dolomites. It was well worth getting up for.

We arrived at breakfast feeling fresh and awake! Everyone else joined us after, all excited for the prospect of first tracks on the mountain! By the time we were ready to leave it was blue skies and sparkling snow. The landlord loaded our bags onto his skidoo and disappeared off down the piste with them. The skiing was fantastic! Potentially the best piste conditions I have ever skied and not another soul around.

We played around on Kromplatz for a few runs and then started our way towards Piculin to catch the ski bus to Sompunt and back into the Alta Badia, home! This was familiar territory for many of the returning guests and people excitedly exchanges facts about the mountains and villages around. We spent our morning on the Santa Croce slopes, opposite Pedraces –the home of Haus Valentin. Some of the group looped the slopes whilst the rest of us took the short walk up a track above the top lift, to visit the famous church and refugio. The views were stunning and the Fanes cliffs stood impressively above us.

After we skied half way down the pistes to our lunch stop. The Oies restaurant is the favourite of many staff and guests alike due to its party trick of being very much off the pistes. From twelve until three the restaurant runs a shuttle service for skiers who wait at the designated spot at the side of the ski run. A horse and cart with a traditionally dressed driver pulls up periodically and transports groups of skiers down to the restaurant. The restaurant itself serves gorgeous, homemade pasta and other Ladin specialities. We sat out in the sun on the balcony and enjoyed our food before returning to the pistes and continuing on. We skied from Badia to La Villa then up onto the Pralongia Plateau, where we had skied on our very first day. Then, with only a few more runs, we dropped over the Campolongo pass and down to Refugio Plan Boe for our last drinks stop of the trip! With music ringing out across the pistes, we got in the Bombardinos and celebrated a fantastic week together. Everyone agreed that the group had worked so well together and that the instructors had led an amazing adventure around the Dolomites!

After we all headed back to Baita for dinner and goodbyes. We were welcomed back by landlord Walter and his wife, and Kiki the fat cat. The ski instructors presented everyone with photos and maps of the week and exchanged heartfelt hugs before making their final farewells. I was soon to follow suit as it was time to head back to Corvara. I said goodbye to everyone too, feeling happy that good friends had been made and an excellent week had by all.

Why not try it for yourself and book a ski safari in the Dolomites now.

Join Collett’s Beth Lloyd on days 1 – 4 of a 7-day ski safari in the Dolomites as she gets to grips with the slopes, samples some wonderful food and enjoys a visit from a baby deer.

Day 1

And so it began! The ski safari team for the week had all been collected from Venice airport and everyone was settled in well for the first night in Chalet Baita. Nestled on the corner of a hairpin bend, surrounded by forests that lead up past Castello and the Falzarego pass, Baita presents a welcome and homely atmosphere. The owners are friendly and attentive, the décor traditional and quirky, there is even a fat, friendly cat wondering about the ground floor giving the place a truly homely feel. It didn’t take long after moving into the rooms for the group to relocate to the bar area to get to know each other over a few drinks. There were seventeen of us in total and so the jumble of names and back stories had us all busy well into the evening. Nibbles were bought to the table and before too long our ski instructors for the week, Diego and Pietro, a fine double act, arrived to give us the low down for the week to come. After our mini office hour we moved through to the next room for an incredible home cooked dinner of Barley soup followed by Sirloin steak cooked in a salt and hay crust –a traditional, local dish that had the whole group piling on the compliments to our hosts. It was beautifully cooked and very tasty. Desert was a classic tiramisu, lovely. We then retired to the bar for a digestive and more chatting. Despite the long day that many had travelling from home to the mountains, the atmosphere had been one of excitement for the rest of the week, and as the snow continued to fall outside it was hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t be looking forward to it!

 

Day 2

The first day drew to an end with a chalet full of tired, full and happy people. We travelled far, starting in Arraba after sorting our ski hire. The snow that had been promised arrived and changed the view considerably. The trees had become laden with fresh powdery flakes and the pistes covered in a decent blanket too. This proved for some more challenging conditions in the afternoon, with moguls and choppy slopes making for tired legs all round. We headed over to Corvara first and the Pralongia plateau before dropping down into San Cassiano to catch a taxi up to the Falzarego pass. A short ski took us along to Cinque Torri, with the famous towers enveloped by low lying cloud. We had a long lunch at refugio Averau, sampling many lovely dishes including a carrot gnocci and some local wine too. After lunch we skied down through the Cinque Torri area and caught a bus down to the Tofana ski area, but not before a quick snowball fight, instigated by those pesky ski instructors! Diego and Pietro are both jokers and a great double act fuelled by a very long friendship. Throughout the week they were forever messing around, keeping us entertained in the worst of weather and at any time we found ourselves waiting at a lift or bus stop.

We left the majority of the Tofana slopes until the next morning and retired to the hotel Cantoniere where we would be spending the night. At first impressions this building doesn’t inspire much confidence. From the outside it is a distinctive, old red house standing alone on the hillside, but what it hides underground in a modern extension is just amazing. The rooms are fresh and clean and the bar and communal areas very welcoming. We all had a delightful three course meal, but retired early to bed on the most part feeling a little stuffed!

Day 3

Well if we thought it had snowed a lot the day before…! We woke to the gentle swaying of trees sodden with snow. Big flakes, clumped together were falling at a fair rate and had seemed to have been doing so most of the night. The Cantoniere hotel was completely enveloped in a winter wonderland! Sleepy faces appeared one by one to negotiate the extensive spread of cakes, breads, fruit and cereals that had been laid on for breakfast. The owner popped in and out, bringing the coffees of people’s choice which seemed to help clear some of the sleepy dust. At a leisurely pace we got ourselves ready and met at the front of the hotel.

The instructors told us how we had a short ski through the woods to reunite with the main ski area. The forest was magical with the snow dampening down sounds and giving almost a slow motion effect as it fell. We joined the Tofana area again and went in search of the ladies world cup black run! The slopes were quiet, the cloud was still quite low and the visibility not the easiest but at least we had it to ourselves. The run in question lies between two pillars of rock, which became known to the group as the gates of Modor! It’s an impressive setting for a race, that’s for sure, and everyone gave it a good shot in the less than ideal conditions. After a little more exploring we sought some warmth in a refugio for coffee then descended into Cortina to cross the valley toward Faloria! A short bus journey through the centre of town took us to the bottom of the main cable car, which we found was closed due to technical difficulties… But that was no problem! Alternative transport was arranged and soon enough we were at our lunch stop.

After some well-deserved and warming food we skied the rest of the afternoon away amongst the trees where the visibility was much better –despite the ever continuing snow! We even played on some off the steeper, off piste slopes which was great! Smiles all round! With weary legs we caught our transfer off the slopes and away from Cortina, next stop San Candido and Hotel Capriolo where we would be staying for the next two nights! San Candido is a beautiful town, the buildings are old and traditional, with numerous churches dotted about amongst the shops and bars. I headed down for an evening walk and bumped into the instructors, joining them for a drink in a local bar, and chatting with them about the day.

After this it was back to the hotel for dinner. The hotel was much bigger than our previous nights of accommodation but didn’t fail to be just as welcoming. There was a bar area and large dining room as well as sofas for taking the weight off of those tired legs. The staff were all very helpful and friendly too. Dinner was much appreciated by all after the hard work put in on the slopes and was followed by a few grappas in the bar, looking over the maps to see what ground we had covered on the trip so far.

Day 4

The perfect day. Fresh snow, blue skies and perfectly groomed pistes. We woke just in time to see a dramatic sunrise over San Candido and we treated to our first view of mountains since the trip began and like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Croda Rossa stood proudly across the valley, its jagged peaks accentuated by the fresh snowfall of yesterday. The good weather had people considerably more motivated than previous mornings and before too long everyone had gathered at the front of the building with skis at the ready. We had a short ride on the train to the bottom of our slopes for the day, exploring the areas of Sexten and Vierschach. We split into two groups at the top of the first gondola and headed off to explore. I joined Pietro’s group for the morning. With the good visibility we could all really start to focus on technique more –rather than just trying to negotiate the best way down soft, moguly slopes! He started to tweak peoples’ posture and performance whilst leading us around the resorts’ long runs. We headed over to the steepest black in northern Italy, Holzier, which everyone survived in style, and then went for coffee.

It really felt like the group bonded that day. Without the distraction of weather, or midday transfers, everyone could just ski and enjoy the mountains at their best. Everyone seemed comfortable in each other’s company and happy to help each other out, a good team. After coffee we headed over to a race course to do some video analysis, not before bumping into a baby reindeer… yes an actual reindeer who was roaming the slopes. One can only assume he’d gotten out of an enclosure somewhere as they’re not all that native to the Dolomites… He was also very tame.

The whole group met for lunch in the sun at a refugio at the bottom of the pistes and then divided again for round two in the afternoon. I joined Diego for this session as we did a few more runs and headed back towards our day’s start point before last lifts. Our lift back to the hotel wasn’t due to arrive for another hour as we cruised onto the last piste of the day so we went to another sunny refugio and did a bit of Apres –would be rude not to!

The Apres continued when we got back, throughout dinner and beyond which was all a great laugh.

Click here for days 4 – 7. If this has inspired you to try the real thing book a ski safari in the Dolomites now. 

There are many hidden gems in amongst the valleys, peaks and higher passes of the Dolomites. At the Valparola Pass long hairpin bends knit together winding roads that climb high above the towns and villages with ever improving views and once at the top the horizon spills out towards the Marmolada, the Dolomites’ highest peak. It is the destination of choice for many cyclists looking to test their legs, flower enthusiasts in search of picturesque rock gardens and historians with in interest in the Dolomites’ WW1 involvement. Many visitors to the area don’t realise the part the Dolomites played in the First World War but there are clues of mountain warfare all around when you start to look.

Italy joined the war in 1915 when the South Tyrol was promised to them by the allies. The Italians were hoping to regain territories that had once been theirs in times of the Roman Empire and the South Tyrol (which had since become part of Austria-Hungary) was sitting right on their border making it an obvious target. The allies recognised that an attack from the Italians in the South would help to stretch Austrian forces that were already fighting on other borders. It was very much a tactical decision on the behalf of the Allies.

 

What would have been a relatively straight forward success if the Italians had moved in straight away became a long war of attrition as they were slow to attack and the Austrians had time to dig themselves into trenches and tunnels. Lasting around two years little land was gained or lost and many lives were taken in the cold of winter. Collapsing ice and avalanche were just as much a problem as the enemy side. Tunnels were dug deep into the heart of the Dolomites rocks and glaciers and via ferrata routes were constructed to help transport ammunition and supplies up the unforgiving mountain faces. Bombing reshaped the peaks and hillsides and those scars are still visible now.

Valparola is a great start point if you are in search of battlements and fortifications as it is home to a museum housed in an authentic fort, views of Lagazuoi cable car which summits what was the head of the Austrian front and neighbours the Falzarego pass –one of the sites of the fiercest fighting. There is convenient (and free) parking next to the museum, overlooking Valparola Lake. The museum itself is worth a visit with a wealth of artefacts on show and an accompanying open air exhibit on the slopes below where there are preserved fortifications. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the surrounding rock faces where little windows in the walls give a clue to the tunnels within –these are also well worth an explore although head torches and helmets are recommended.

If it’s the tunnels that you’re most interested in then Lagazoui is the place to visit. Just a further five minute drive from the top of Valparola is the Lagazoui carpark where the impressive cable car sweeps high off the ground up to the top of the mountains sheer face. The lift runs regularly and is the quick and easy way to reach expansive views, a great refugio and the Hidden Valley (also a popular ski route in winter). The mountain can be climbed another way however, inside a network of tunnels dug out by the Italians and Austrians. Long, steep passages intertwine inside Lagazoui, every so often breaking through the walls letting in the light and increasingly beautiful views. Caverns are littered with debris and wooden frames, machine gun posts and patches of snow in the early season. They are cold inside even in midsummer which can only hint at how cold it must’ve been for the men in midwinter. The tunnels can be walked in either direction, up and/or down. Personally I preferred walking up and enjoying the lift down –less chance of bumping heads on the low ceilings.

Many of the organised walks we run here meander in amongst evidence of the mountain warfare and later in summer WW1 tours are run especially to explore the history of the area. The Lagazoui is one of these routes, as is a tour of the Italian front around Cinque Torri and Nuvalou. The Col di Lana and Setsass round walks are also popular and begin at the same point above Valparola lake descending past the abandoned fortifications to join a long undulating path below the face of Setsass. With steep cliffs above on your right and views of Col di Lana to your left this is a great place to spot marmots and you’ll almost certainly hear their high-pitched squeaks nearby. The path leads to the far end of the cliffs and splits. The left hand path branches towards the spine of Col di Lana and sinks into shoulder-height trenches that climb to a series of summits joined together by more tunnels and a ridge bearing the scars of an enormous explosion that removed part of the mountain during WW1.

The right-hand path continues to skirt around Setsass and eventually reveals views of the Alta Badia with the Sella Massif and Puez Odle peaks striking out a recognisable skyline. The slopes and cliffs of Setsass are home to many rock garden flowers, more marmots and chamois. Watch out for rock fall from above as the Chamois are known to scale the near vertical face and can dislodge stones. As the cliffs shrink down the back of the mountain comes into view and is in contrast a sweeping slope plated with limestone pavement. It is crowned by seven peaks, which is how it finds its name and a further 45 minute walk will take you to the top of the highest, middle peak. Once reached it is necessary to retrace your steps, off of the ridge so that the circular route can be re-joined. Here the path makes its way through forest, miniature limestone canyons and more fortifications before meeting the lake once again.

It is an area rich in wildlife as well as history and serves as an example of how nature can reclaim a scarred landscape. That said the signs of mountain fighting are still clear to see and serve as a plain reminder of a world at war. A visit to the Valparola and Falzarego passes come highly recommended on a visit with us in summer or winter.

With the promise of excitement and escapism, via ferrata is suitable for any walker with a sense of adventure. And there’s no better place to try it than the Dolomites – home to stunning alpine scenery, exhilarating mountain trails and the largest collection of via ferrata anywhere on the planet.

Fill in the form below and download our detailed guide to find out everything you need to know about this thrilling activity, whether you’re an experienced climber or a novice hiker.

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Here in our new destination, Matrei, we are very proud to find our home in the Hotel Hinteregger. Situated in the heart of the town and in view of its namesake the Hintereggkogel (2638m) this is a building steeped in both family tradition and award-winning modern architecture. Owned by the lovely Katharina, the hotel has been in her family for over 100 years and has been passed down from generation to generation, daughter to daughter.

The farmhouse from which it all started was built in the 1800s and has had many owners since, serving in part as the village cinema, theatre and, eventually, as guest rooms in 1962. This is when it’s rich history of conversions and extensions really began and since then the building has evolved into something of a spectacle. Its unique combination of old and new, both traditional and ground-breaking has seen it presented with prestigious architecture awards. The newer extension was constructed using natural materials which are perhaps most clearly noticed in the spa area’s melting pot of stone, wood, clay and glass. Through the glass panels the Mediterranean-style outdoor pool lies in the garden backed by a crisp mountain skyline.

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History at the Hinteregger

Yet one can pass seamlessly from one modern corridor into another that simply breathes history. An illustrious central banister twists its way from the ground floor to the roof inside what is immediately recognisable as the original house. As well-kept and clean as its counterpart, this section of the hotel offers a more traditional homely and ultimately Tyrolean feel whilst never being more than a moment away from the clean-cut lines of the extension.

Downstairs the communal areas continue to strike the perfect balance between modern and spacious, with clean lines and lots of light whilst simultaneously being cosy and welcoming. The reception area is another example of how large expanses of glass can give way so easily to a burning fire, comfy leather sofas and commodious bookcases. A cast iron door set into the wall swings aside to reveal steps that plunge into what initially feels like a castle dungeon. Yet as the staircase winds down another gratifying mixture of the old and new awaits. A beautifully carved centre table sits in the centre of this stone walled room in the bowels of the building.

Intricate carpentry plays a role in many of the rooms too, continuing the Austrian feel. Whether in the new or the old part of the building the rooms are furnished with natural wood. In the modern extension they are flooded with light from the presence of the mountain views. The fusion of glass and wood is simple and complimentary to the landscape.

Relaxation at the Hinteregger

After a day out in the mountains it’s important to feel like you can unwind. This is why we chose the farmhouse parlour to hold our office hour. Accentuated by more detailed carpentry work this room has a more rustic feel. Here you can enjoy a beer or spritz and chat about the day before dinner. This is neighboured by another parlour which despite being renovated still displays the original panelling from generations before.

When it is time for dinner, you will be led into another space that’s seen the touch of modern design. A large and open-plan room with unique light installations is the perfect place to enjoy a sample from the hotel’s carefully chosen wine list and locally sourced menu. There is a four course meal on offer and salad bar at hand and wine is brought to the table by the hotel staff who take pride in knowing their wines, and the vineyards they come from. The food is proudly Tyrolean too and always fresh. The vegetables and herbs come from the hotel’s own garden, the cabbage and potatoes from the field, the meat mostly from its very own farm. Even the apple juice is pressed from their own fruit and the bread is freshly baked every morning on site by Katharina’s mother.

The Hinteregger’s farm

Much like the hotel, the Hinteregger’s farm has become more contemporary. The ecological nature of the farm has been modernized with care being taken to keep its essence unchanged. A photovoltaic system and a connected wood chip heating system provide the hotel with economical energy. All the while the farm’s cows continue to graze their summers away in the hotel’s pastures at Innergschlöss, they’ve even kept their names.

The focus of this hotel remains its family and its heritage. These modern additions are just a number in a long line of evolutions that each owner has brought about. We are excited to join Katharina in the venture of this ever changing and fascinating building.

The hotel’s awards

  • The 2007 Timber Award of Tyrol for the future-oriented and pioneering approach to construction.
  • The 2009 Tyrolean Restoration Prize for clear architectural language.
  • The Building Developer Prize 2010 recognized the bold innovative construction.
  • The Timber Prize for Interior Design in 2011 honoured the clear contemporary space composition in solid larch.

Check out our Hohe Tauern page for more information on walking trips in the area.