This morning I am awakened by my watch on my wrist, because I had set the alarm to wake up shortly after sunrise. I simply wanted to dismantle my tent early so that I do not come into a possible conflict with the hut host, who is possibly not thrilled by the fact that I camped directly with him around the corner. Apart from that, I wanted to be generally earlier awake, in order to be able to use the day better and, so that I do not arrive too late at my goal, in order to be able to write in the evening still in peace. Outside the tent I hear already again the first hiking poles on the rocks and the sound of debris by the loose tread of passers-by. The flow of the large melting Ötztal glacier above me can hardly be ignored. In the distance above me also sounds a strange rumbling and I am initially irritated, where this noise could come from. With such noises one should immediately become alert in the mountains, because rock falls are no rarity in the crumbling Alps, but rather the rule and can end quite fatally. I look up at the glacier to see if there has been a major rock or icefall. Looking closer, I see two excavators working on the glacier, possibly already preparing the ground for the coming ski season.
I pack up my gear and occasionally wave back to the climbers who spot me that morning and gesture a "good morning" from a distance.
After all my equipment is stowed in my backpack, I heave the heavy package onto my shoulders and set off on another ascent up to the Pitztaler Jöchl. On my way up, I meet Jan and Flo, with whom I had already sat together at dinner in the hut the night before. We had a good chat on the way up, which made the climb seem very entertaining. It was a beautiful, rocky, somewhat sloping passage, which led in good gradient continuously up to the yoke.
It feels good to move your body first thing in the morning and get your circulation going. It has something very calming and elemental, sometimes almost meditative, and you just think about the next step and the beautiful surroundings around you. You don't waste any thought on existential fears, worries, resentments or other failings. You are just calm and content with yourself and enjoy the warm sun and the fresh wind on your skin and face.
On the left side of the flank we slowly but surely climb up to the Pitztaler Jöchl.
A look back shows the large glacier fields and glacier tongues as they reach into the valley and move through the rock over millions of years, eroding as they go. The next winter, everything here is again snow-white and covered meters high with the cold element. And so this process repeats itself for many millennia, much longer than we exist and long before our vanishingly small worries already existed.
About 135 million years ago, at the beginning of the Cretaceous period, the complex, multi-stage formation process of the Alps started. Simply described, the Atlantic Ocean opened wider and wider, causing the African continent to move the Adriatic Plate northward further and further into Europe. This movement took place an estimated 35 million years ago. As a result, this beautiful formation that we can marvel at today was formed. The process was largely completed about 5 million years ago, but continues to this day, as the plates are still moving in this direction, but not quite as fast.
Up there, a warm, golden morning sun awaited us, welcoming us for this new day ahead.
From here you cross another slightly exposed rocky passage until you reach the highest point.
Shortly before this yoke I meet a somewhat anxious young woman who is a little worried about this passage and is mentally preparing herself for this hurdle. I speak to her courage and explain to her that from experience things always look worse from a distance than they are in the end and that it is usually our head that makes the obstacle seem much more difficult.
My backpack and the heavy weight? I hardly feel it anymore. I'm just looking forward to this climb!
A little caution is required and you should concentrate if you are walking along here and are not particularly sure-footed.
And who would have thought it? She was right behind me at the end of this exposed section and mastered the passage without any problems.
Some places are secured with chains and wire ropes to provide more safety.
Only a few more meters, then the first ascent for this morning is done.
Of course, as always, I'll take you with me the last few meters up on the saddle so you can understand a little bit how it feels!
And over the saddle! I am curious what sight awaits us there!
Arriving at the highest point, I am presented with a strange and bizarre sight as I look down into the next valley.
I catch sight of a brand new, huge, concreted and asphalted complex of roads, parking lots and a gigantic lift facility in the unreal, rocky and partly still glaciated landscape.
And next to it, nevertheless, rough, beautiful and wild rock formations.
The sun has a very special color this morning, creating an indescribable atmosphere. You can definitely tell that summer is over and autumn is just around the corner!
A short look back to the Braunschweiger hut and the small "pond" where I spent the night.
And forever the clouds move beautifully over the peaks, while standing in the sunlight cast their shadows down into the valley. It never gets boring and I love every one of these sights.
We are at 2961m above sea level this morning. By the way, did I mention that this clock is just absolute madness?
This is probably the Sölden ski resort on the glacier of the same name. Artificial catch basins and bizarre-looking water reservoirs were created here by a prime example of geoforming. To do this, millions of cubic meters of material must have had to be moved. I also like to ski, of course, but what kind of gigantic madness we humans are partly engaged in and thus sustainably damage our nature, as well as the environment, simply to earn even more money, is partly incomprehensible to me. Well then, let's descend to this structure. Right at the beginning of the descent it jams at a steep, rope-secured passage, which can be overcome for most crossers only with this assistance and individually one after the other.
Afterwards, we descend a few meters in single file through rock and scree until we finally arrive at this strange structure.
From here, you usually take a short five-minute bus ride through a long rock tunnel over to the other gigantic ski complex.
The tunnel may not be crossed on foot. Alternatively, you can cross this passage by hiking above the tunnel along the Seiterkar to the Seiter Jöchl.
After a short, not very respectable climb, we leave the ski area and find ourselves on the great and very long descent route down into the Ötztal valley to Vent.
Flo, Jan, Hannah, Nicklas and me as we set off to leave the ski area. We've all met so many times now on this hike and have had conversations and exchanged thoughts with each other over and over again that a certain familiarity or sense of community has almost developed between us E5 Alpenüberquerers. This is probably only natural when you get up together every day for almost a week, have breakfast, share the same efforts and privations and sit together in the evening at dinner. Meeting in the washrooms and finally going to bed more or less at the same time.
So we all descend together slowly but surely to Vent and enjoy shared conversations, experiences, perceptions and ideas. Nicklas asks me, for example, what I think of hiking poles, since I use poles on this hike and he himself does not really get along with his poles, however, or feels no added value for himself in using them. I tell him that I find the use, depending on the situation quite useful, but I am a fan of walking on the rock and with light luggage without hiking poles to train their own balance, joints and tendons. However, it is ultimately a very situational and individual decision that everyone must make for themselves.
Hannah, Nicklas and I play a funny game during the descent, or rather a podcast format, where you are asked extremely bizarre questions and everyone has to answer these questions according to their opinion. It helps tremendously to get to know each other better, to understand each other, it's extremely funny and makes the descent seem very entertaining. We certainly had our fun with it.
After a while I feel a huge hole in my stomach and realize that I am extremely hungry. Fortunately, Jan gave me two more of his granola bars, because I was pretty hungry by now and just had nothing left. Without him I would have had to descend hungry to the valley.
It is a very beautiful, extended descent with many turns and occasional climbs, which thus give the trail a very special character and always offer unique sights.
I feel the urge in me to increase the pace, because the descent is usually easier for me and feels more pleasant for me personally. So I tighten the backpack to my body and shoot down the trail.
I overtake all the familiar hikers of the previous days, who can hardly believe the sight and jump happily on like a mountain goat with my huge backpack on my shoulders down the stony passages. The Sauerlanders are amazed and Rosario and Christoph can hardly believe their eyes when they see me darting down there like that. "Man what he has for a surefootedness with the huge luggage" amuses Rosario. Ivan from Sauerland just shakes his head and says that I no longer have all the cups in the cupboard!
Arrived in Vent down I seek out a restaurant and order a large portion of fries and a wonderful, chilled elderberry spritzer. I had a huge appetite, since I had not eaten breakfast or anything at this point. Only two small granola bars, which I had gotten from Jan on the way down, shortly before I had engaged my descent turbo.
After a while, Jan and Flo now also came down to the village and sat down at the table with me. We sat together for quite a long time and talked really well, until at some point we came to the realization that we should slowly get back on the road, because it is once again a long climb to the Martin Busch hut. Since I had, as already mentioned, hardly any provisions and food with me, I went shopping briefly in the village in an overpriced sports or supermarket and got me a few nuts, as well as muesli and protein bars.
Shortly before I set off again to climb to the next hut, I still empty the half-filled drinking bladder, which was still three-quarters full with the tap water of the Brunswick hut. I had taken this water only reluctantly with an unpleasant feeling, necessarily. Rightly, as should turn out later still.
The climb to the Martin Busch hut is about 8 km long, gains altitude steadily but never steeply and runs pretty straightforward and unspectacular along the river. The view is nice for my liking, but not spectacular.
It is already a little later in the afternoon and it is getting very quiet around me.
I enjoy the peace and quiet and contentedly put one foot in front of the other, enjoying the landscape and the view. Not only that, but just the fact of being here at this moment, healthy, alive, vital and grateful for the possibility that I may just cross the wonderful Alps carefree.
We still have some way, kilometers and altitude meters ahead of us!
But we are getting closer to the goal with every step! Many small steps add up to one big achievement in the end.
Hey, why are you looking at me so suspiciously?
On the way I meet three groups of girls, each of which had already lost a comrade on the road, because they have decided to break off the tour early. In any case, some, not to say almost all of these young ladies were miserable. They were sick and nauseous and some were already throwing up. I offered them my help, because I always carry a small first-aid kit with me on major trips. The last time I had renewed this with tablets against nausea and against bacterial infections was when I climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at the turn of the year 2021 to 2022. (Do you want to read a blog entry about Tanzania and Kilimanjaro? If so, let me know and I'll write this blog for you!) They didn't want anything to eat or fresh water from me either, so unfortunately I couldn't do much for them.
I went further up the path and again met a group that was pretty crappy and was also struggling with nausea and nausea. So there seemed to be something brewing.
After a while I arrived at the Martin-Busch-Hut, where I was already welcomed by Tommy and Steffen, who were standing on the terrace.
Tommy called down to me and immediately invited me to a cool wheat beer. Of course, I gratefully accepted the invitation of the guys from Zwickau and immediately put down my backpack in the entrance area of the parlor.
I grabbed a pair of Crocs, the usual slippers that you wear at a hut, because it is not at all seen with pleasure that you come into the room with the mountain shoes or walk around everywhere and went out to the terrace to pick up my reward for completing today's stage.
We toasted together to the successful day and drank our wheat together on the wooden terrace of the Martin Busch hut overlooking the surrounding peaks and glaciers and enjoyed the gradually setting sun. The two of them told me that their friend was already lying and sleeping in the mattress camp, as he was also not feeling well. We talked for quite a long time on the terrace and the guys expressed to me their enthusiasm and appreciation for my continuous persistence, which they could observe in me during the last five days, because every day with this huge heavy backpack, energetic I complete the stages with a wide grin. In addition, they told me that they could well understand the motives of my journey and find my project simply indescribably great and wish me the best for this courageous undertaking. With the setting sun it became increasingly colder outside on the terrace and we decided to go inside into the warm room, where it was already begun to serve dinner.
On the corridor in front of the parlor had sat more and more "sick people" who were now extremely bad with nausea. Tommy invited me again for dinner, because the third in their bunch unfortunately could not appear for dinner due to nausea and he did not want to let the portion expire. The guys were still joking and Tommy said to Steffen: "Then we just have to bend our armor tonight just the two of us". I had to laugh out loud, because I had never heard this expression for "getting drunk" before and it was once again typical of East German humor. There was a soup as a starter, then spaghetti Bolognese and yogurt for dessert.
Meanwhile, I observed a lively hustle and bustle at the entrance to the parlor. Rosario from Ecuador, the mother of Christoph, came out with a green bucket and back in again, because her son, who was otherwise extremely fit all the days on the road, had already thrown up that evening. At the same time, several companions of the sick hikers ran out into the corridor with several pots of chamomile tea and up to the mattress dormitories to take care of their friends.
Tommy, Steffen and I slowly felt that we were now very very tired and decided, at 19:30, that we should go to bed early today. We get up together and say goodbye to each other. Now I also feel how it slowly rumbles in my stomach and notice how the energy literally disappears from my body. I leave the room when Jan stops me for a moment and asks me if I would like to join them at the table for a while and have a glass of schnapps with them. I find the gesture absolutely nice and apologize, however, at the same time with Jan that I would have accepted the invitation normally very gladly, but said I: "I am tonight rather flat and tired and must unfortunately refuse the invitation". I get a shower token from the hut host and then climb the stairs to look for the washrooms. I feel now ever more clearly that with me something is not at all correct, while I complete straight my washing program. After the three minutes of shower time are up, I run straight to the toilet next door and as I sat there on the redeeming white ceramic bowl, I realized I had a violent case of diarrhea. "Well, if that's all compared to the others," I think to myself like that, "then I can actually rest easy." I get weaker and weaker with each passing minute and, after getting dressed again, I force myself outside into the darkness to find a suitable place to sleep for the night a little further uphill.
In the corridor sits also Hannah, who hangs totally exhausted over a cup of camomile tea and is close to tears. I wish her a speedy recovery and hope that she will feel better soon. Completely devoid of energy, I put on my shoes and put my backpack on my shoulders with the greatest of effort. It is now very cold out here and I trudge in the darkness a way up the mountain. The terrain is very sloping and in the darkness I hardly find a suitable place while I am in "emergency mode". I keep looking left and right. Up the slope on the right and down on the left, but hardly anything suitable is in sight. Finally! A bit below me next to a big rock on the left hand side of the path I recognize a reasonably flat spot. With last strength I reach the place, put down my backpack and lie down exhausted in the 30 cm high undergrowth. I breathe heavily, my heart throbs strongly and it feels as if my pancreas is vibrating or trembling. Stretching all fours, I lay there like that for a short while until I could pull myself together to start setting up my tent. Crawling on all fours to my pack, I unstrapped the tent from underneath the lid pocket. Kneeling in front of the sub-optimal flat spot on the ground, but better than anything else I could discover, I spread the tent out in front of me as best I could somehow so that I wouldn't spend the night lying in the tent at a total angle. I let myself fall totally exhausted again to the back into the undergrowth and remain a few minutes in such a way lying. I pick myself up again and again, tinker the tent poles together and tighten it, in the hope that it was coincidentally right around with the tent together. It wasn't, of course, but I couldn't care less about that now. Then it remains tonight just so crooked. The main thing is that the thing stands somehow and I can finally lie down in it. What comes next? Oh yes, inflating my sleeping pad. After that? Unpacking the sleeping bag and rolling it out in the tent. Alright. I get through these individual tasks by the skin of my teeth and get up one last time and walk around the tent to fix it with my hiking poles. I save the pegs. Finally I am ready!
I am, felt totally in the bucket and at the end, crawl into the tent, pull the zippers left and right and lie down in my sleeping bag. As soon as I move my body to the horizontal, I suddenly feel a familiar metallic taste as it forms in my mouth under great accumulation of saliva. I know this sign all too well from the migraine attacks I often had in my youth. And I also know that what follows next is unstoppable. I tear open the zipper of the inner tent in the last presence of mind and spit the spaghetti Bolognese almost undigested into my awning. A luck I think to myself: "I could have used the mess now really not at all in the tent." My muscle reflexes choke the last stomach contents out of me about four more times to make sure that everything that doesn't belong in there, but really everything is out. "Oh man, I hope that stuff doesn't stink out there in front of the tent all night now and I have that sour smell permanently in my nose too." I think to myself. Fortunately, the food was barely digested and it was very cold outside, so this unpleasant side effect was absent for the night. Now that my stomach has been emptied, I sink into my sleeping bag on my sleeping pad, completely exhausted, and fall into a very strange sleep. I wake up again and again during the night and have to exit as my stomach continues to rumble. In short, I have an extremely crappy night that hardly brings me any rest. Hopefully I'll feel a little better in the morning....