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Bike mountaineering through the Central Alps - A diary report | Part I

Diagonally through the Alps by bike

by Achim Nagel • 10/09/2009
In 18 days from the Watzmann to Lake Geneva. Four main ridge crossings, 50,000 vertical meters, 1300 km route, 16 times over 2400 m and 8 times over 3000 m. These are the pure facts of a crossing of the Central Alps by bike. Trudging along hiking trails with an 18 kg bike and 14 kg of luggage are rather unsuitable conditions for such a sporting record hunt. However, the fun factor is record-breakingly high. The fact that "coincidentally" half of the uphill meters can be done with climbing aids naturally also helps

A different kind of Alpine cross: an east-west tour of the Central Alps.

In 18 days from the Watzmann to Lake Geneva. Four main ridge crossings, 50,000 vertical meters, 1300 km route, 16 times over 2400 m and 8 times over 3000 m. These are the pure facts of a crossing of the Central Alps by bike. Trudging along hiking trails with an 18 kg bike and 14 kg of luggage are rather unsuitable conditions for such a sporting record hunt. However, the fun factor is record-breakingly high. The fact that "coincidentally" half of the uphill meters can be done with climbing aids naturally also helps

Climbing with 19kg bikes.

Freeride Alpine cross in an east-west direction

The Central Alps are a unique playground for practising a wide variety of sports. An endless number of mountains line up in a seemingly chaotic tangle of valleys, passes and rivers around the 3000 meter mark. Between the starting point in Berchtesgaden and the finish in Lausanne on Lake Geneva lies a veritable firework display of exciting mountain trails and scenic highlights. Three Peaks, Matterhorn and Mont Blanc - the \"Best of\" the Alps, in one tour. The advantage of the best mountain range in the world: there is a bus in every valley, every mountain pasture can be reached on a well-developed road and many peaks can be reached by modern cable car. On the one hand, it's a shame to interfere with these breathtaking natural landscapes, but on the other hand, if the facilities are already in place, it would be foolish not to use them.

The entire story was captured as a live report. Here is the ultimate summary and best pictures of the 18-day bike tour in two parts.

Day 1, 13.8: Arrival in Berchtesgaden, Saalbach

Arrival and rolling in, Saalbach

Alpine fun trails with glacier views.

Train journey and arrival in Berchtesgaden at 6.00 pm. Pouring rain. Off to the bus, then 400 m uphill on tar and 800 m downhill.

We reach Saalbach at 10.30 pm with the help of a cab.

Day 2, 14.8: Saalbach - Lienz

Breakfast Deluxe, Tauerncross

Postcard idyll

A flow round via the blue Adidas freeride at the Reiterkogelbahn, then quickly to Saalbach to the Schattberg. Continue along the Pinzgau hiking trail/panorama trail to the Unterstandshütte, cross the slope to the south for 2.5 hours - we can only ride about 50% as the path is very washed out in places and too narrow for bikes.

Through the Weißsee Glacier World, we cross the Tauern to Lienz for the first time at eye level with snow-covered glaciers.

Day 3, 15.8: Lienz - Drei Zinnen - Cortina d'Ampezzo (Rif. del Varda)

Ferragosto

After a train ride, we walk from Sexten to the Drei Zinnen hut. Unfortunately, we catch this incredibly impressive landscape with its unique coral reefs on the Ferragosto weekend.

Like Christmas shopping in Milan city centre, we meander through the crowds.

Day 4, 16.8: Cortina (Rif. del Varda) - Arabba - Bindelweghütte

From Cortina to Arabba

Bike terrain beyond the feel-good steepness.

It's still Ferragosto. After a quick bite to eat at the first bakery we come across, we admire the numerous "extreme mountain athletes" strolling around the pedestrian zone. At least many of the upper-class guests strutting around appear to be wearing all kinds of extreme sports outfits. If these perfect outfits were the only criteria, you would think you were at Everest base camp. Between all the extreme athletes, we slalom our way to the Tofane gondola station over inflated horns and taut facial features. A nice Italian guides us through a flowing forest trail to the next bus stop. Off we go to Passo Falzarego and on via Arabba and Porta Vescovo to the Bindelweghütte

Day 5, 17.8: Bindelweghütte - Bolzano/Merano

From Karerpass to Pizza Wagenrad

Canazei - another crowded place that brings what feels like billions of people by gondola, bus and pass road to the foot of the impressive Coral Banks. The Dolomites are often called the most beautiful mountains in the world. We quickly escape the crowds and head west. We cross the Karer Pass below the Rosengarten to Bolzano. No more free beds to be found in affordable price regions. So on to Meran.

Two minutes' walk from our accommodation is a multi-award-winning pizzeria. Whether the award was given for the sheer size or the taste quality of the pizzas is of no interest to us. It tastes excellent and we get really full.

Day 7, 19.8: Oberetteshütte - Reschenpass - Scuol - Jamtalhütte

Futschölpaß

Today was going to be another mammoth day. First from the Oberetteshütte down to Vinschgau. By train and bus to Nauders. From there over a small pass into Switzerland to Martinsbrück. Onwards by bike and bus to Scuol. There we realize that the gondola is being overhauled. So back on the bus to Ftan. Another 400 vertical meters on a chairlift and we are back above the tree line. A winding mountain trail, a downhill and we are at the foot of the Futschöl Pass. Now just 1000 meters uphill, 600 meters downhill again, and I'm at the Jamtalhütte in no time at all - just in time for the onset of darkness at 9 pm.

Day 8, 20.8: Jamtalhütte - Galtür - Montafon

Kaiser weather

From the Jamtalhütte, we head via Galtür and the Birkhahnbahn to Kopssee. A real cream trail awaits me here. A slightly bumpy but wide forest trail that descends moderately steeply throughout and always oscillates between difficulty levels S2 and S3. If a freerider or endurist could wish for a forest trail, they could simply copy this trail.

In my accommodation, I relax on the sunny balcony in fantastic weather and let my soul and battered feet dangle

Photo gallery

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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