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WINTER
Kathrin Ebenhoch

von Kathrin Ebenhoch

March 09, 2023

WINTER

Endless glitter: The magic of a winter night at the mountain cabin

How cosy is it on a winter evening in a real alpine cabin? How does it feel to sleep wrapped up in a sleeping bag with flakes falling softly from the sky outside? What sparkles more in the evening - the stars or the snow? How does it feel to make tracks in the fresh snow at the first ray of sunshine in the morning? The answers to these questions can be found in the Region Seefeld. Because on Tyrol's high plateau, some cabins also welcome overnight guests in winter and thus offer a very special winter experience.

Our children, aged six and ten, love sleeping in alpine huts. A night on the mountain, with the adventure of ascending and descending and snuggling up together in the mattress camp, tops any other short holiday. We've already done a few of these "just get away from it all" short trips in summer, but the winter experience has been lacking so far. Reason enough to finally make up for it during the semester break. Our destination, the idyllically situated Wettersteinhütte at 1717 metres at the beginning of the Gaistal in Leutasch. It promises not only a nice two-hour hike with a fantastic panorama, but also a place to spend the night in a rustic mattress camp and a fast-paced toboggan run back down into the valley the next morning. In other words, everything our adventurous hearts desire.

Motivation programme for the ascent

The sun is already relatively low as we set off from the Stupfer car park in Gaistal. Our backpacks on our shoulders, our toboggans in tow, our adventure begins. The pink signs on the winter hiking trail to the Wettersteinhütte, which show how far we have come every 500 metres, provide motivation for the ascent. In addition, the internal race against the slowly sinking sun begins - will we make it to the top before it sets? And then there is the snow-covered landscape, where you can invent all kinds of stories about fairies or forest spirits. Or in which one discovers countless animal tracks that suddenly fill school science lessons with life. "That was a fox and a rabbit; the fox must have had a good dinner," the ten-year-old says knowingly. "No, they were just saying goodnight to each other," interjects the six-year-old, trusting her favourite book. We parents just let this go without comment and enjoy the gentle rustling of the trees that accompanies us all the way uphill. "Uh, speaking of dinner, I'm hungry, when are we finally going to get there?", the children interrupt the silence. The next sign from the winter hiking trail provides information, one more kilometre. ""That far?" - Well, we've already done three, and how good do you think the Kaiserschmarrn tastes up there," I throw in the next motivating argument.

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1960 as in 2023 - simply impressive

And then, around the next corner, all complaining is forgotten, because you suddenly see it: the Wettersteinhütte, built in 1961, enthroned on its ridge above the valley cutting into which we are just turning. The plain white wall is illuminated by the sun and makes it shine especially brightly against the forest that surrounds it. The last 500 metres to the cabin demand everything of us once again: they are steep and slippery. It is hard to imagine that in 1960 the stones and beams for building the hut were transported up here on foot. I wonder what drove the people of Leutasch to build a cabin here? 2023 the prospect of the much-praised Kaiserschmarrn drives us on. And our race against the sun, which we narrowly win: We enter the terrace with the last ray of sunshine. The view, which stretches from the Seefeld and Reither peaks over the Inntal valley and Hohe Munde deep into the Gaistal, is breathtaking. The warm light shining from the small windows of the cabin is inviting.
Cabin host Beate welcomes us in the doorway, the heavy winter boots are exchanged for cabin slippers and we can already have a look at our night's camp. In the large main camp, which can accommodate up to 18 guests, four sleeping places with thick blankets are waiting for us. We'll probably need them, because it's fresh in the camp and you won't find a warm heating system - this rustic simplicity is part of the cabin's charm!

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The magic of a winter night

Downstairs in the living room, however, the fire is crackling in the small Swedish stove, and we quickly feel cosy and warm. The fluffy Kaiserschmarrn and the warm steaming cocoa do the rest. The children are beaming as they contentedly shove one temptingly sweet bite after another into their mouths. We parents have something hearty and a beer and are equally spoilt. While we are eating, it has become dark outside. Time to go out again and look at the stars. There are plenty of them up here, far from the light of the valley. Yes, you can even make out a strip of the Milky Way and are enchanted by the sparkle up there, and by the sparkle of the snow that surrounds us. "Everything is glittering, it's so beautiful," I hear my daughter whisper in amazement and have to smile. The simple miracle of nature still works in 2023. Meanwhile, my son is looking for a comet he could never find in the valley and is completely occupied - smartphone, TV and game console are forgotten.
As our toes slowly freeze, we go back inside, snuggle up to the Swedish stove and rummage through the old games that Beate and her husband Hans keep in a box. Mill, horse racing, ludo - the evening flies by. After a quick cat wash - because it's quaintly fresh in the bathroom too - we head up to the sleeping room. We are lucky, or perhaps unlucky as far as the heat is concerned, because we are the only overnight guests today. So we simply put on our warm ski underwear and thick socks again. In our sleeping bags we crawl under the warm down duvets and switch off the light. All of a sudden it is pitch black and completely silent, always a fascinating experience in our noisy world.

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Only for us

Nine really relaxing hours later, the first rays of sunshine and the rumbling in the cabin wake us up. Beate and Hans are preparing for the day. Still a little sleepy, we slip into our ski trousers and step out onto the terrace. The sun tickles our noses, a few birds chirp shyly, the wind rustles through the firs like in Heidi. It's perfect and everything, the view, the cabin, the snow, the sun seems to belong only to us....
Once we have finished marvelling, our breakfast is waiting inside - I have rarely seen my children eat with such an appetite. But the sight lasts only for a short time, because outside there is the white splendour, the playground, which slowly emerges from under the snow cover, and the adventure of nature to discover. We parents enjoy the peace and quiet, take our time and chat with Hans and Beate. At some point, however, we are tempted by the toboggan run down to the valley: four kilometres of rapid descent await us. We descend several times on the first 500 metres, because they are steep, have tight curves towards the slope that are not secured and are definitely only to be mastered by very experienced tobogganists with good equipment and riding in soft snow conditions. But the rest of the way is great fun. Only my husband takes the turnoff to the Strupfer car park, because it is also very steep and narrow. I stay with the children on the forest road to Klamm to car park no. 12, and we really speed up again. At the bottom, I look into four sparkling children's eyes and am greeted by "When are we going to sleep at the Wettersteinhütte again? Tomorrow?"

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Packing tips:

If you only spend one night at the cabin, you don't need a lot of things, even in winter - after all, everything has to be carried up there. A few tips on what should nevertheless not be missing:

- A change of clothes - especially ski underwear, turtlenecks and socks.
- Warm clothes for sleeping
- For the cabin - ski underwear, tracksuit bottoms, warm long-sleeved shirt, jumper, socks
- Hut sleeping bag
- Hut slippers - if necessary, you can usually borrow some.
- Headlamp or torch
- Washing-up kit - you can save here - toothbrush and flannel are sufficient
- For the kids: small stuffed animal, favourite book, binoculars
- For the ascent: small snack and water bottles
- For the toboggan run: helmet


Cabins with overnight accommodation in winter

Wettersteinhütte: as described above, rustic, classic camp, don't forget warm clothes and hut sleeping bag.

Ropferstub'n: accessible by car. Overnight stay in flats, sauna and ski cellar are available.

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