I am not an avid hiker, but every now and then I spot a picture which motivates me to undertake a more difficult hike. I can honestly admit I don’t do a strenuous hike for fun, but being an extremely goal-oriented person I can sufficiently motivate myself to do a hike for a picture. So poor Hielke, who does like to hike and is more fit than I am, had to do the hike to the Olpererhütte with me. The Olpererhütte has found Instafame because of the hanging bridge that is located near it and can be found in the beautiful Zillertal. An area in which I have skied before, but had never visited during summertime. We undertook the hike from nearby Mayrhofen, which is known in wintertime for its rowdy apres ski, but is pretty idyllic in summertime. While you are in the area, I would recommend to visit Innsbruck too. It is one of the large cities of Austria and very underrated if you ask me.
Innsbruck is mostly known for hosting the Olympic winter games three times, but I discovered it is a nice spot to visit in summertime too. I was inspired to visit Innsbruck because of pictures I had seen of colorful houses with snowy mountains as the backdrop. The colorful houses are located right in the city center and luckily they did not disappoint. We spent an afternoon in Innsbruck and were really impressed by the city. There were a lot of sustainable initiatives in the city center, such as a nice bicycle lane and we loved the foodhall where we had a delicious lunch. The city center felt really classic, but the outskirts felt surprisingly left-wing.
Where to stay for the Olpererhütte hike
We did extensive research on where to stay for the Olpererhütte hike and decided upon staying in Mayrhofen. Mayrhofen is a small, atmospheric town with sufficient facilities and it is located 30 minutes of driving from the starting point of the hike. The weather is often the best in the morning, so I would recommend to stay near the hike, instead of doing a day trip from a location farther away. You should want to avoid travel as much as possible on your hiking day, so you can start your hike as early as possible. We stayed at Pension Kumbichlhof for € 60 per night for a room including breakfast. I would not recommend this hotel specifically for its hospitality, but it was cheap and breakfast was very good and extensive. You can also stay closer to the start of the hike, but as lodging gets scarce the prices of lodging increase.
What to bring on the hike
I would recommend to bring enough snacks and water as you don’t have the opportunity to fill up until you get to the hut. I wore my hiking shoes and I was very happy with them, as some parts of the hike are very rocky and slippery. We also encountered rain on our way down, so make sure you wear waterproof clothes. It is also pretty windy at the top, so you might need something to protect your ears.
We brought a wide angle lens and didn’t bring a zoom lens. With a zoom lens you can take the best pictures of the suspension bridge as you can create an optical illusion of how high the bridge is, we didn’t fully realize this effect.
The hike to the Olpererhütte
The hike to the Olpererhütte starts at the Schlegeisspeicher Stausee. To get here you have to take a toll road. Costs are € 14,5 per car and it needs to be paid in cash. The last bit of the road to the Stausee is one-way, we had to wait for 20 minutes for returning cars, but you might be lucky and not have to wait. Parking at the Schlegeisspeicher Stausee is free and well indicated.
You can do two hikes to the Olpererhütte:
Short route: The short route is 6KMs with an elevation of 600 meters. If you are fit you can do it in 3 hours round trip. This is the quickest way to get to the Olpererhütte and the return journey is via the same path.
Long route: This hike includes a detour via the Friesenberghaus, so it will take much longer, but therefore it is also an easier hike as you divide the elevation over a longer time. This ascent will take you about 4,5 hours and you can decide to take the short route down (6 hours total). For more information check out this website.
We didn’t have time to do the long route, so we did the short one instead. Being 20 weeks pregnant and not very fit the ascent took me over 2,5 hours. I often needed to rest to catch my breath, which took a lot of extra time. Hielke did not have this issue and would probably have completed the ascent in 1,5 hours without me. I personally found the first part of the hike the hardest mentally, as there are no signs telling you which percentage of the hike you have completed. In the beginning of the hike I often wondered why I was doing this and feeling sorry for myself and the little baby inside me. Luckily, I knew that we would have finished the hardest part at the time we could see the Olpererhütte. When I finally saw it in the distance this really encouraged me to complete the hike. Knowing I was about to have lunch really gave me an extra boost and I experienced the last part of the hike as very easy and I actually enjoyed it! I would recommend to not beat yourself up mentally and just focus on the beautiful view; you will have amazing views of the Schlegeisspeicher Stausee during the whole route!
As I was super tired by the time we arrived at the hut, we first went for lunch. Lunch was super quick, delicious, cozy and affordable. There was a good variety of typical mountain dishes such as Tiroler Gröstl, Kaiserschmarrn and Schnitzel.
Unfortunately, the weather changed during lunch and the view disappeared completely! We should have directly gone to the suspension bridge… There was a short interval in which the weather cleared a bit and that is when we took our pictures. The pictures are not super sharp, mainly because of the weather conditions and I also did not want to change into my twirling dress in the rain.. so no twirling on the suspension bridge. So that was unfortunate for the pictures, but I still had an amazing time! There is usually a small queue for the suspension bridge, as people award each other some time to take pictures, which is nice.
I was super proud of myself for finishing this hike and I felt like a super woman afterwards. The descent wasn’t too hard, but it might be a bit steep when you are not very tall. As the descent was pretty steep, it took us almost 1,5 hours.