The day started as the previous 2 days with wall to wall sunshine. My dad kindly drove us to Maria Waldrast where Iain and Graham had spent the night. This would be the spot from where we would all set off together. For Iain and Graham the walk had started a bit less than 24 hours earlier. Maria Waldrast is at 1638m and even upon our arrival at just after 9am it felt warm.
The book suggested that we should find out before setting off if the high route over the Kesselspitze was in fact open as it had been neglected in the more recent past. The priest – Maria Waldrast is a monastry – didn’t know so we called the warden at the Padasterjoch Haus where we would be staying that night. He seemed surprised by the question and said of course it was open. This gave us a first glimpse that we may need to take some of the info in the book with a pinch of salt. It seemed a bit dated in places. We were using the Cicerone guide to the Stubai Alps written by Allan Hartley.
After filling our bottles and a comment from one of the locals that we were leaving our departure rather late – referring to the heat – we set off into said heat.
Our first target was the Serlesjöchl – well it was a diverted target as we could have taken a more direct but steeper route to the Trinserjoch. Serlesjöchl would take us higher and then allow for better views as we contoured across to the Trinserjoch, also known as Kälberjoch as it is popular with cows.
Ascending the Serlesjöchl (2385m) in the midday heat was a bit of a baptism of fire to the walk as we ascended 700m over around 3km to get there. Getting there was worth it though and it did make for an easy walk across to the Kälberjoch (2225m). Upon arrival we started to get our bearings and weren’t heading at all in the direction we thought we were going. Distances were a bit longer than we thought. Kälberjoch was a good place for our first lunch stop, we got some cloud cover and replenished our energy stores. Everyone was adjusting to their pack weights and getting used to the task ahead.
For the next few hours we would have a mix of cloud and sun which was most welcome. Once we left Kälberjoch it felt as if the walk proper started as we were starting to climb higher and were aiming for one of only a few peaks we had planned – the Kesselspitze at 2728m. It climbed quite swiftly taking us out of the meadows and into more rocky and bouldery terrain. But as with all alpine walks all if this was well marked and with the exception of one or 2 very short bits nothing to get too excited (worried) about.
Fiona and I had done Serles (2718m) a few years ago. In order to get on to the main part of the Serles from Serlesjöchl you climbed a ladder and a few staples. For some reason from that point to the top I never felt comfortable. I wasn’t even happy at the top as everything seemed too far down although it is a bit of a plateau up there. This was one of the reasons why Fiona and I wanted to use Skye as a bit of tester.
Ascending Kesselspitze seemed fine in that respect and I’d convinced myself (and Fiona too I think) that the descent and following ridge looked broad based on my reading of the map. For us the summit of Kesselspitze was narrower than we would have liked and while Iain and Graham were preparing to have a 2nd break and snack, Fiona and I were keen to move on to their astonishment especially as Graham had kindly carried a small bottle of whisky to mark Fiona’s birthday. We did hang around long enough for Graham to present Fiona with the birthday whisky to mark the day. The following descent and ridge was tastier than we’d hoped for but looking back it was probably a good introduction to get the head in the right place for the following nine days.
We did eventually find a place for our 2nd picnic. As with a lot of things in the mountains the closer you get to an impossible looking section in the path the more possible it starts to look. There were 2 sections like that just at the start of our final climb below the summit of the Wasenwand. Both of those sections were a walk over in the end. We then topped out and had the Padasterjoch Haus (2232m) in our sights. After a 1km descent which took around 30 min we arrived at the hut at around 4pm.
The warden was waiting outside and before we had time to sit down had taken our drinks order. We settled down to a beautiful evening and were able to have dinner outside too. According to the warden this hadn’t been possible very often this year as the thunder storms would usually force people inside by late afternoon. It was one of the rarer evening with no thunder storms.
The hut was not very busy with only 2 other parties staying and we had a 20 odd bed dorm to ourselves which meant we could spread out and keep away from the louder sleepers.
Day 1 done. The pack felt heavy but manageable. Iain was the fastest most of the time especially when it got more technical. Graham was the hungriest. And Fiona had a great birthday. 11.4km completed with 1400m of ascent. Onwards to day 2. Check back to Day 0 if you missed the intro.