In my engagement with the cold, and the running in it, mountains play a role. Of course.
As I live at the very end of the Alps, where there is more of the Hungarian Plains than even of hills, their role is unfortunately limited. First, I have to be able to get to some mountains…
With that, the Salzkammergut (especially the area around the Traunsee) remains one place I go somewhat regularly. It takes its time to get there, but it is relatively easy to reach by train(s), on which I can work or study or rest.
The trail up the Feuerkogel from Ebensee is one I have gone up often. With that, it is still not boring, it is one of the best examples of how a simple and convenient trail can always be different.
And, even more so than with the Sonnsteine trail (which I usually end, and sometimes start, here), I can just get out of the train I took there and get going.
The Trail in Winter
Winter is a strange time to go here, a time which can cause surprises, a time which makes it all the more interesting.
There have been times I tried snowshoeing up that trail and it was not passable even like that. Much of the time, though, the trail up is relatively easy, even in winter – and where it gets hard, it’s part of the Feuerkogel skiing area.
Of course, that becomes strange.
First, you move up a hiking trail which hardly anyone takes at this time of year. It has a bit of an up and down, but mainly just climbs and climbs.
Then, about half the way up the mountain, you climb the uppermost bit of the “Lawinenhang” (the avalanche slope) to the lower station of a smaller ski lift. There, you either climb the steep slope where the hiking trail goes – which I did and could only tell, not show, because the snow was so deep and soft (under a hard shell that was not enough to carry my weight), it took all my strength and was rather too dangerous.
At least, it would have been dangerous to lose my camera there ;)
Or, you walk up the skiing slope/road already.
Then, you cross the skiing slope again to continue on the upper half of the hiking trail, where more ski touring people have usually gone… until you end up at more major parts of the skiing slopes, which you’re the only one huffing up rather than hurtling down.
Finally, you reach the upper station of the cable car that goes up the Feuerkogel. Most people, especially the skiers, of course, go up that way.
Enjoy the view, go on for a bit if you can and want to – there are also snowshoe trails on the plateau up there – or just throw yourself right back down the trail.
I tried out the Icebug Pace2 boots going up and circling along one of the snowshoe trails. Spikes and a high cut, plus gaiters – that was perfect for the hard-packed snowshoe trail. Only snowshoes wouldn’t be needed at all…
Funnily – talk of how such trails aren’t worth it once you have been up a single time – that snowshoe trail I took went for a circle I had never before taken, had no idea would be as interesting as it did in fact turn out to be, for another view down into the Traun river valley – or on that day, the soup of fog that was lying down there – than the one from the Feuerkogel.
Then, I just sprinted back down to my usual trail, the trail I had just come up. Using public transport to get around, the challenge now became to maybe get down in time for the next, earlier-than-planned, train back home.
Which I caught.
Yeah, it’s not the great adventure of a lonely peak “conquered” by oneself, somewhere far away.
It was fun, including the chatting with people who were also out and about up there, the comparative loneliness of the little-used trail further down, the girl skier I was able to help back up as her skis were crossed in such a way, she couldn’t quite manage by herself.
And with some training, uphill and downhill, for strength and endurance and sheer fun, I was back down again, got home in time to serve my wife the hot chocolate she loves (particularly when she can get it from me after a work day), have a nice shower, and snuggle into the warm bed.
Things you come to appreciate when they are made less ordinary, and you make yourself at home.