One day', I resolved decades ago, 'I will get off the train and then walk in the Diretissima from Innsbruck station to the Seegrube'. What I had resolved to do in my studentish exuberance, I put into practice late and grey-haired. One doesn't treat oneself to anything else..
But there is another reason for this tour from the very bottom to almost the very top. It has become common to take cars and cable cars to the mountains, and then start the actual mountain hike. My conviction: In Innsbruck, this is not necessary at all. There, you take the Maria-Theresien-Strasse as your destination and just go for it. The fact that there is a difference in altitude of 1,400 metres to overcome is of little consequence for the time being
FROM THE HÖTTINGER TOWER TO THE HÖTTINGER PICTURE
My route planning - to ascend via the Höttinger Bild and the Höttinger Graben - was based on Innsbruck's city history. This is often forgotten when strolling along the wonderful paths and mountain trails on the southern slopes of the Nordkette. Who knows that Innsbruck, specifically Hötting, was once an important Tyrolean mining town whose mining remains are still visible today?
I first passed the Golden Roof on my walk, crossed the Inn Bridge, and then turned my attention in Hötting to the wonderful Old Church, first documented in 1286. Then, somehow, things just got started. Because on the ascent to the Planötzenhof the circulation gets into the mood for the first time.
After the Planötzenhof - I don't pass there without having had a coffee - a very wonderful path then leads to the Höttinger Bild. What even locals hardly know: The chapel is virtually the gateway to Innsbruck's mining past. This is evidenced by a medieval spoil heap still visible today directly in front of the chapel.
THE MEDIEVAL KNAPHOLES
Now a steep landscape opens up, in which the traces of medieval ore mining cannot be overlooked. These become apparent when you choose the ascent to the Höttinger Alm via the Höttinger Graben. You have to be sure-footed and free from vertigo. Otherwise I would advise against choosing this route.
We can't even imagine that nowadays: The medieval miners hammered the ore-bearing rocks out of the rock up here with hammers and irons, climbed ladders into their 'miners' holes', drove tunnels into the rock and slaved from sunrise to sunset. Just looking at the holes and caves, which look like a giant Swiss cheese, makes me dizzy.
THE CLIMBING PARADISE - AGAINST GRAVITY
Today, it's mainly people who try to outsmart gravity by means of hooks and eyes who hang out here. The sport climbers often hang upside down in the rock - and can enjoy the most beautiful scenery that a sport climbing garden has to offer: the overwhelming panorama of Innsbruck.
THE LEGENDARY HÖTTINGER ALM
Overcoming the last steep steps, the Höttinger Alm then suddenly appears before the grateful eye of the hiker. Scottish highland cattle enhance the view of the Nordkette or the city of Innsbruck. Actually, it is good manners to sit down on the Höttinger Alm at least once a year, to let God be a good man and to really air your soul. Eating something rustic here, be it the excellent Kaspressknödel (cheese dumplings) or the crumbly Graue Käse (grey cheese), is part of good manners.
THE FINAL FURIOSO
From the alpine pasture, it is now time to tackle the last 400 metres of altitude. The route here follows the motto: why zig-zag when you can go straight ahead? After all, it is the Diretissima that makes it possible to overcome many metres of altitude in the shortest distance. Here - I admit it gladly - I had to take a time-out quite often. I told myself that I had to take pictures. In truth, the sweat just ran down my body in streams
Now the Nordkette begins to tower mightily in front of hikers and walkers. The Frau Hitt is within reach, the Brandkogel now looks dangerous. The scattered bleating of sheep is drowned out by the excited whistles of marmots. The Seegrube itself? Can't be seen at all, it's hiding in its pit. After about one and a half hours I made it: I reached the Grubegg, about 50 meters above the Seegrube mountain station.
For a short time I considered to walk further up to the Hafelekar. Which would have been nonsense. First, it was already late in the afternoon. And secondly, I wouldn't have met those nice people who let the sun shine on their bellies at Grubegg.
The descent with the Nordkettenbahn was not only indispensable because of the late hour
All images: ©Werner Kräutler
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A volunteer at the "Schule der Alm" alpine farming school, cultural pilgrim, Tyrol aficionado and Innsbruck fan.
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