I have planned weekend visit in Totes Gebirge including ascent to Grosser Priel (2 515m / 8 251 ft), highest peak of the mountain range, for a long time. It really doesn’t matter from which valley I wanted to ascent, always it was really demanding hiking plan just for two days visit. At the end, all the best from Totes Gebirge eastern part fits into two-day plan. In next couple of sentences I will do my best to describe ascent to Grosser Priel, and descent to Welser Hutte on the other side of mountain.
Ascent to Priel-Schutzhaus (1 420 m/4 659 ft)
As all of my trips, also this one has started traveling to Hinterstoder, Austria. We are leaving Bratislava, Slovakia capital city, around 6:15 am. After 3 our drive we park near Peham Villa (N 47 40.929,E 14 07.209). On parking place we have short break for breakfast, Grosser Priel pictures and get ready for the ascent to Priel-Schutzhaus hut. Based on the hiking sign we should be there in 2 hours. Beginning of the path is really nice gravel road in woods until you reach cable car lower station. Road changes to hiking path and start ascending. After few minutes you can see and feel the ascent. For me ascent is pure pain. I am suffering a lot. I have no idea if it is related to bad sleep, yesterday via ferrata climbing or something else. I can not catch a breath, I feel tired. To Priel-Schutzhaus I need to ascent 800 m/ 2625 ft of altitude. Two and half hours later I am in Priel-Schutzhaus. Soup and few motivating phrases were really helpful, however I am changing my plans a bit. Instead of Sudospornklettersteig and Bert-Rineshklettersteig via ferratas, I will reach Grosser Priel via regular hiking path.
Ascent to Grosser Priel (2 515 m / 8 251 ft)
Short and refreshing break at the Priel-Schutzhaus is over. Ascent from hut is nice, not steep, On the crossroad we split to two groups. Via ferrata guys go to climb Bert-Rineshklettersteig and me with one friend going to Grosser Priel via regular hiking path. Ascent goes thru rock scree between two imposant rock walls. During short stops I am trying to spot two our friends, however without success. Based on the contour lines in map I guess we are about 2 000 m / 6 562 ft high. Now we have to cross snow field and with easy via ferrata reach mountain ridge, from where we have a great view on Totes Gebirge plateau on west. From the ridge we need to ascent approximately 300 m / 1 000 ft of altitude. Path is really nice, not steep so in less than hour we are on the top. We can enjoy an amazing view from top, while waiting for our friends. We left the hut around 1 pm. Sign next to hut says, it is 3 hours to reach top, we did it in 4 hours. Waiting for friends almost hour was great. We could take a rest after 7 hours ascent. During ascent we did 1 900 m /6 233 ft of altitude.
Descent to Welser Hutte (1 740 m /5 708 ft)
Few minutes before six we start to descent. We need to go down about 800 m / 2624 ft, which should be easy. Hiking path from Grosser Priel to saddle Fleischbanksattel is easy as expected. “Fun” begins from crossroad where you can go to Schermberg, our tomorrow destination. During descent we have easy via ferrata, few snow fields, couple of huge steps, longer than my leg. All together with exhaustion from whole day hike it is a dangerous combination. Sign somewhere under the Grosser Priel says two hours to Welser hutte hut. We did it in 2,5 hours. Whole hike from parking place to hut took us more than 10 hours.
In hut we have supper, discussing what we have seen really interesting during the day and about tomorrow ascent to Schermberg. Comparing to original plan, guys did not climb Sudospornklettersteig, cause we have missed the turn. I am glad I did not climb Bert-Rinesh via ferrata. I will have to come back. Not only for via ferrata, but as well for geocache which I did not find. Geocache is important, because it is part of Series 9 Summits. Each of this geocache is in highest summit of each Austria state.