The glacier, known in this part of Tirol as "Ferner", stretches out its icy tongue. At regular intervals the sound of rocks tumbling down towards the valley floor can be heard. To the left and right stand mighty rockfaces of grey granite. Here, at almost 3,000 metres above sea level, lies the Kaunergrathütte hut. It is the highest mountain hut in the Pitztal Valley and a popular base camp for hikers and climbers in search of extreme adventures.
The only way to transport food up to this remote hut is either on foot or using a helicopter. Visitors who make the long trek up to the hut are welcomed with a warm smile by Julia Dobler, who runs the Kaunergrathütte. From a cool Aperol spritzer to hammocks and even a small herb garden, there are plenty of things you would not expect at this altitude. "Sometimes I need a helicopter delivery of flowers," laughs Julia.
She has been in charge of affairs at the hut, which is owned by the Austrian Alpine Club, for nine years. When she started she was the youngest women in Austria to hold such a position. Joining her in the mountains during the summer months are her son Leo and family dog Aisha. "The guests here really like our friendly atmosphere and good food," she explains. And when the season draws to a close at the end of September and she walks back down into the valley for the winter, she always turns around and looks up to the Kaunergrathütte hut to whisper quietly: "See you next year."
Julia Dobler, runs a mountain hut in the Pitztal Valley
The Kaunergrathütte is a mountain hut located to the south of the Verpeilspitze mountain in the Kaunergrat Nature Park. The easiest way to access it on foot is from Plangeroß. The hike up takes around 3.5 hours. The hut is an excellent base for high-altitude treks and rock climbing courses. There is also a via ferrata fixed-rope climbing route just a stone's throw from the hut. All energy used at the hut is provided by renewable sources. The hut has received the Austrian Alpine Club's environmental seal of approval.