Crossing the Alps from Oberstdorf to Vernago incl. bonus level (20.08.-29.08.)

I can’t believe it’s done.

Okay, that has been a huge spoiler for the end of this blog, but yes, I crossed the Alps. In a different way that I thought but anyway. Another trigger warning should be necessary since there are going to be shameless bare mountain pics.

Thanks to Sandra, Katrin and Adelheid, who made this trip so special – some of there beautiful pics I borrowed for this blog, so the photo credits also belong to these ladies.
Here we go.

About 5.640 meter in altitude uphill and 7.030 meter in altitude downhill have been absorbed by my legs, knees and butt in 5 1/2 days. I can’t believe it’s already over. This has been a long running point on my to do list that I pushed from year to year. And now it’s checkboxed.

Originally planned to walk with a good friend and then thought to be on my own, a week before my trip Sandra joined the fun. We survived a tough project at DB over 1 1/2 years so the Alps should be no friendship challenge. If our legs had the same idea we would figure out soon enough.

Since it became trendy to cross the Alps on the E5 hiking path – how can something like this get trendy??? – we couldn’t sleep in any of the mountain cabins uphill except for Day 1. They’ve been booked out since April.

Well, what first felt like a huge disappointment changed into an even better plan b. Cause otherwise we wouldn’t have met our wonderful walking partners Adelheid and Katrin and formed a funny but dedicated hiking group. The dedication part involved booking 4-bed-rooms, having bottles of wine together and sharing unconditional love for the Allgäu. Even a small winter garden party to Hubert von Goisern playing on a smartphone was involved and will never been forgotten.

So the classic route in every guidebook is from cabin to cabin. Ours looked slightly adjusted like that:

Day 1: Oberstdorf to Kemptner Hütte

Just a steady uphill walk over Spielmannsau with our one and only sleepover on mattresses in a cabin. And yes, there is no mobile reception in the mountains. Two days offline. What a feeling.



Day 2: Kemptner Hütte to Madau

While there were no overnight accommodations left in the Memminger cabin we had a slightly shorter tour over Mädelejoch and Austria’s highest swing bridge to a nice pension in Madau where fate took its course and we met our fellow companions over a bottle of wine, beer and hammocks.


Day 3: Madau to Zams

The longest day of our adjusted tour with in total about 1300 meters altitude up and 2000 meters altitude down – the distance must have been about 26km. And the 6 hours descent through beautiful sceneries and a smuggler’s path along the scraps of the Zammer Joch – which in reality had been there in the past for cattle drive, but we decided smugglers sounded cooler – was really tough. At the end of the day my feet wouldn’t have gone any step further. We even took the elevator for just one floor in our little Austrian hotel with authentic Asian and Tyrolean cuisine  – that’s what said. And yes, they had really nice Tyrolean dumblings as well as Bulgogi.


Day 4: Zams to Mittelberg

The day started easy with a gondola lift up to the summit station and then further on by feet over the peaks of Venetberg and Kreuzjoch down to the Larcher Alm – today’s mandatory stop for isotonic drinks! – and down to Wenns where we literally had no other choice than to take the bus through the Pitztal for tonight’s guesthouse in Mittelberg. “Welcome Family Bucher” and a free bottle of red wine helped us to get over that creepy figure outside the local pizzeria.

Day 5: Mittelberg to Vent

Taking the more demanding ascent to the Braunschweiger Hütte (the next cabin where we didn’t get a place to sleep) we felt brave enough to walk the Pitztaler Jöchl which held ready the most challenging passage of the whole tour. Downhill over rocks and next to the glacier we reached the next little cheat of the E5: you are only allowed to get on the other side of the tunnel by bus. Feeling very serene with that part behind us and the hotel already booked for the night we took our time to walk the panorama path, stop here and there and enjoy the landscape. So it was just by chance that we recognized the dark clouds catching up behind us. Memo: Even if you pick up your pace you can’t run out a bad weather front. Luckily it brought nothing than rain and wind and a quick test how fast we could change in our rain jackets and trousers. Finally arrived in Vent we celebrated the day with not so good food but even better Aperol Sprizz and milk drinks – I can’t remember when I last had a hot milk with honey but since I slept so bad the last day I put in every effort to sleep better this night.

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Tag 6: Vent to Vernagt/Vernago

By day 6 we’ve been so into our morning routine and used to ascents right after breakfast so that the way to the Martin-Busch-Hütte felt rather short. After an isotonic break – of course – we took the last uphill for our whole trip to the highest point of the tour, the Similaunhütte. At 3.019m we enjoyed the Schlehengeist – sloe brandy – which I got as a gift in Nürnberg and carried the whole way until now and the last descent to the artificial lake of Vernago was well enjoyed afterwards.


So well that we came up with the plan to grab two bottles of wine at a little supermarket before going to the hotel to keep tonight’s celebrations less expensive. But reaching the little supermarket down the lake, still fully loaded with the backpack after a long walking day, in 20 instead 30 minutes as google suggested over a rocky path because of the bus leaving to the hotel … well, this might not have been on of our smartest ideas. But that one blister I got there I took as a reward. And when we reached the huge Italian all inclusive skiing hotel thing and got to know that not even the food was buffet style but wine and beer were also free to refill we had to laugh a lot at our effort – and had the wine nevertheless.


Day 7: Merano

The next day we took the bus to Merano, celebrated a bit more, had our heartwarming goodbyes and the four of us took bus and trains into different directions.

Bonus Level: Numana

I personally decided for the bonus level: Taking a couple of trains to Numana and spend two full days with my father and stepmother at our vacation house at the Adria.


Since a smart woman told me that time on trains gives you the chance to space off and think about the meaning of life and kittens I welcomed the 6 1/2 hours on train to get there and the 12 hours back home. And I got a chance for cold Italian beer, fine pizza and classy made-up games in the evenings with my family, like “the Italian dinner table coaster Boccia” or “the Italian garden skiing without ski but fig tree”.

Happy I am. A lot.

Disclaimer: No animals have been harmed and no isotonic drinks have been spoiled during the cross of the Alps. 


  1. What a wonderful adventure, and soooo demanding! I think a couple of days being spoiled at the end was the perfect tonic! Look forward to hearing about more adventures!!

  2. Pingback:Munich to Venice [Across the Alps via bike] – Across the Ocean

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