Grosser Hafner – most eastern 3 000 m in the Alps

Again it is Saturday morning and again we are lazy to wake up. This time we do not need to wake up extremely early because we are less than an hour from end of the Malta valley. We will reach it via beautiful Malta alpine road. Near the hotel and upper dam I am parking the car. Both of us getting ready for the hike to most eastern 3 000 m/ 10 000 ft summit – Grosser Hafner (3 079 m / 10 092 ft).

Few minutes after I have parked my car bunch of goats came to us, check what we have for them. It is last weekend of September and main tourist season is over. I like it when there are not many people and we can enjoy the silence and beauty of the place. Shortly after nine we start hiking towards Kattowitzer hut. I am surprised it takes 3 hours to reach the hut.

At the beginning we have to cross couple of streams and path is totally wet. From time time it is not a hike but jumping exercise. We are moving very slowly, at least that is my feeling. Besides us, we haven’t seen any one. One faster couple passed us. Hike is almost flat.
At one point we have to ascent thru steep part, which brings us to lovely meadow with small stream in the middle. Water in the stream is calm, grass around is green and far in the distance we can see Ankogel glacier. Best place to sit down and have something to eat.

Both of us are lazy to move. We spend there about 15 minutes. View is just amazing. No wind, no other humans. This is exactly how I imagine paradise. However till Grosser Hafner it is still lots of walk and we plan to come back to the car this evening. So we better move.

Again we are going thru short steep part with view to “Old man face”. It is basically rock formation, which from certain angle looks like old man face. Even the cache has which is located here has this name. After steep part we are almost on the Kattowitzer hut.

I thought that we are too slow, but at the end it turns out that it takes us about 3 hours to reach the hut. It is end of the season and menu on the hut is short. Lucka is having coffee and I have water syrup water. They don’t have anything else.

Grosser Hafner should be visible from the hut, but it is hidden in clouds. Shortly after noon, we move towards summit. Is is easy hike, nothing dramatic. Step by step we are getting closer and closer to the summit. Under the ridge path gets steep. I mean really steep comparing what we have done so far today. Luckily it is not long one.

At the ridge all the fun begins. We have to find our way on the sharp ridge. We have to climb around rocks from one side or another. It is enjoyable for both of us. In same exposed places are fixed ropes. From right side clouds are coming.

Clouds are coming closer and closer. In one place there is plenty stone in very strange position. All big stones are facing towards the sky. Ridge keeps clouds on the right. We cannot see anything there, but on the left it is almost clear. I love this kind of moment in the mountains.

Soon we are on the summit of Grosser Hafner. I thought we are going to be last one on the summit, because plenty of people were descending, but I was wrong. One couple is there as well. We talk with them a bit. They came to Kattowitzer hut from different direction of Malta valley, but it takes them also 3 hours.

Unfortunately Hochalmspitze, highest summit in Ankogel group is somewhere in the clouds. Better to say, we are in the clouds and therefore we cannot see it. After couple of minutes is everything changed and sky is almost clear. All four of us is enjoying view to all direction. Place is really quiet and peaceful.

I have time to search for the cache while others are enjoying the view. Originally we planned to come back to the car this evening, but it won’t be that easy. I suggest staying here and enjoying this moment and descent only to the hut. It is not more than hour and half.

On the Sunday we wanted to go to Sauleck, but we will do it another time. It is definitely worth to spend here lots of time and enjoy it. Other couple is already descending, but we stay here. Doing lot of pictures and having fun.

Other couple is almost out of our sights, when we start descending. As we agreed to spend night at Kattowitzer hut, there is no rush. We descent slowly, discussing lot of different thinks, but most of all enjoy the hike.

On the way down we have to careful, because it is easy to lose the path. You see that path is over there, but you have no idea how to get there  From time to time we have to climb (I-II UIAA ). We are used to it and we like it. Honestly both of prefers this kind of hikes than walking in the woods.

We are in the middle of the ridge. This is the place where path is going down from it towards the hut. From now on, it is just easy hike in lovely country. Before we start descending we sit down for couple of minutes and enjoy. We are sitting there almost in total silence without any words. This is why I love going to mountains.

Descent to the hut is peace of a cake. As it is after hiking season, hut is almost empty and sleep there is no issue. We are there only 3 guests. Another 5 guest are coming shortly after dark. Best part of it is price for one night. It is just 7,5 € per person/per night in “lager” – room with lot of other people. There are no beds, but bunks with mattresses.

Hike to Grosser Hafner is really nice, especially if you are looking for hike, where you can climb a bit, without any equipment. From car to car it would take about 9 hours. In the summer it is no issue, because days are long, but in the autumn in combination with late start it is better to split it to two days.

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