Austria 2019 · Hiking · Silvretta · Travel

Hochmadererjoch

Today we hiked from the Tübinger Hütte, up and over the Hochmadererjoch saddle, down into the Kromertal valley, and up the Kromertal to the Saarbrücker Hütte.

Distance

7.5

miles

Elev Gain

3,440

feet

Elev Loss

2,240

feet

Time

7:08

hours

Click markers on map for more info

Elevation Profile
The Tübinger Hütte disappeared into the clouds as soon as we left.

The weather was dismal this morning, very foggy with a light rain drizzle. There was practically no visibility other than a few yards of the trail ahead.

Departing the Tübinger Hütte

We started off and realized within a minute or two (thankfully) that we were on the wrong trail, heading down into the Garnera valley far below. The first mile or two on the correct trail was moderate with a few slippery talus fields to cross.

Hiking over toward the Hochmaderer. Foggy with light rain – no visibility other than a little bit of the trail ahead.

Once we reached the Gantschettatäli valley leading up to the Hochmadererjoch the trail became much steeper.

Ascending the Gantschettatäli, a small valley that leads up to the Hochmadererjoch,
becoming progressively steeper as we approach the pass.
This section of the trail was actually much steeper than it appears here.

The trail climbed up 750ft to a junction with the trail to the Hochmaderer peak. We opted to skip this one due to no visibility and wet, slippery conditions. After a few more minutes we found ourselves on top of the Hochmadererjoch!

Atop the 2,505m Hochmadererjoch!

We set off on a steep descent from the Hochmadererjoch into the Maderneratal valley, crossing a large snowfield at the bottom of the valley.

Descending a snowfield in (over) the Maderneratälibach. Much easier walking on the snow than scrambling through the rocks. The Alps experienced high snowfall over the past winter, which had still not melted out by mid-July.

Continuing on, we came to the end of the valley where the clouds thinned out enough to see down to the Vermuntsee and up to the Silvretta Reservoir Dam at Bieler Höhe.

The Vermuntsee, one of a number of resevoirs in the upper Montafon valley used for water and energy projects. The blue-green color is caused by “rock flour” in the water from active glaciers above grinding rock into dust.
Silvretta Hochalpenstraße, High Alpine Road, heading up to Bielerhöhe.
The Silvretta Reservoir Dam at Bielerhöhe is visible through the clouds.

We took a break here and snacked on a Käsewurst (cheese sausage) before beginning a steep, muddy, 1,000ft descent into the Kromertal valley. It was clear that even though in mid-July, summer has not yet begun up here. The snow was still melting, which innundated the trail with water in places and mud in others. Few flowers were blooming yet, the temperature was cool, and it felt like an early spring day up here.

The Gletscherbach (glacier creek) flowing down the Kromertal valley from the Kromer and Schweizer glaciers toward the Vermuntsee.

The trail eventually made its way all the way down to the Kromertal valley where we reached a junction with the trail up to the Saarbrücker Hütte. It was warmer down here with the sun occasionally peeking through the fog and clouds.

The Gletscherbach (glacier creek) with the Kleinlitzner peeking out from the clouds.

We hiked 2,000ft (600+ meters) up to the Saarbrücker Hütte mostly on a dirt road, of which Allan got bored.

Saarbrücker Hütte over the upper Kromertal

So we departed the road on a steep and rocky side trail toward the hütte. I got tired of toiling up this trail after a while, so we rejoined the road just below the hut. It was a nice easy stroll from here up to the hut.

Arriving at the Saarbrücker Hütte

We checked in, dropped off our boots/shoes in the schuhraum, dropped off our packs in our room, and went to the dining room for lunch. We each ordered a hüttenjausen (sausages, horseradish, bread, pickles, etc.), not knowing that each is large enough for two people.

The Litzner glacier next to the Saarbrücker Hütte

The weather outside was deteriorating so we stayed inside. After lunch, we showered (separately), did laundry, gawked at maps, and hung out until dinner time.

The dining room at the Saarbrücker Hütte.

Dinner was a hearty meat and potato dish, followed by Leberkäse (rice pudding) for dessert. At our table was an aging mountaineer and his guide, who informed me that his client was famous in climbing circles for putting up a first ascent in the Himalayas back in the day. We conversed with a German couple who helped me with my Deutsch pronunciation; they were on the same route and we would see them again tomorrow and the next day.

Our room at the Saarbrücker Hütte.
Since we had the room to ourselves, we took the double-wide bunks on the left side.

We eventually retired to our room, which we had to ourselves tonight. There were a couple of double-wide bunks in this room, and it was nice being able to stretch out a bit more. For me, the Saarbrücker was the ideal mountain hut: a small, cramped, creaky place offering shelter and sustenance amid a vastness of rock and ice (and bad weather).

Leave a Reply