An easier hike today over the Zillertal Alps into Italy to have lunch and then back to Austria for dinner.




Elevation Gain






Elevation Profile

One nice benefit of staying at the Schwarzenstein is that the bus up to the trailheads stops right at the front door. After breakfast, we hopped on the bus for a ride up the Schlegeis Alpine Road to the Schlegeis reservoir (stausee). Ginzling is the last village on the Zillertalstraße, so the bus was already standing-room-only when we boarded. At Breitlahner, the road becomes only a single lane, so traffic is held here. After 5-10 minutes, the bus started up again and we headed up the hill to the Schlegeis Stausee.

Schlegeiss Stausee and Schlegeiskees glacier.

From the bus stop, we walked along the north shore of the Schlegeis Stausee over to the trailhead at the base of the Zamsergrund valley through which the Zamserbach flows.

Start of trail to the Pfitscherjoch (pass)

We moved quickly over the first couple miles in the valley and then ascended to alpine meadows and a farm.

Cows along the Pfitscherjoch Trail

Above the farm, we opted for a more direct trail to the top. After toiling up the steeper trail for less than a mile we arrived at the top of the Pfitscherjoch and the Italian border.

Top of the Pfitscherjoch on the Italian border

The Pfitscherjoch Haus is about a quarter-mile south of the border in Italy.

The Pfitscherjoch Haus, or Rifugio Passo di Vizze, on the Italian side of the border. Südtirol (South Tirol) is a German-speaking province on the northern edge of Italy.
The Pfitscherjoch Haus

I panicked in the line at the cafeteria and ordered the only thing I recognized: spaghetti and meatballs. Allan, however, made a savvier choice.

When in Italy, eat pasta.
St. Jakob – San Giacomo in the Pfitschtal valley just south of the Pfitscherjoch Haus.
Jochkapelle – a small chapel at the Pfitscherjoch Haus
Madonna in the Jochkapelle – a small chapel at the Pfitscherjoch Haus

360º panorama from the Pfitscherjochhaus (click and drag to pan and zoom)

After enjoying a delicious Italian lunch and the surrounding views, we set off on our return to the Schlegeis Stausee.

Allan at the Pfitscherjoch on the Italian border, with the Pfitscherjoch Haus visible behind.

We hiked down the road on the return, taking a side-trail past the Lavitzalm farm, and retraced our route back down to the parking area at the Schegeis Stausee. The bus took us back down through tunnels and switchbacks to the front-door of the Schwarzenstein.

Pfitscherjoch Trail and the Zamserbach

After the Getschnerscharte a couple days ago, I would have been content to do something less challenging over the next couple days. But Allan was more interested in our original plan: the Berliner Höhenweg over the 3,000m (10,000ft) Schönbichler.

We walked over to the Nature Park visitors center to inquire about the route and found someone in an office who explained that there was still a lot of snow in places, but how it was doable and what to expect.

Allan on rock in Ginzling

We took a short trail through the woods, looping back to the Schwarzenstein where we cleaned up, packed, and had dinner in the hotel restaurant: Weinerschnitzel, Kaiserschmarrn, and Zillertal Bier (unfortunately not distributed beyond the Zillertal valley).

Kaiserschmarrn at the Hotel Gasthaus Schwarzenstein
Hotel Gasthaus Schwarzenstein in Ginzling with Allan in the window



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