Wasserfallweg and Hochzinödl tour with amazing views at top of Peternpfad. Total: 26.5km 2387m - July 16 2018
Some of the most stunning scenery i've ever experienced on a hike greeted me with a surprising day in the Gesause National Park. This hike had everything! Little did I know the Wasserfallweg trail is marked as a via ferrata trail up the side of a steep cliff; however, the series of ladders were ascendable without any serious exposure. Inexperienced hikers may feel uncomfortable on some of the ladders that ascended nearly vertical, but I was able to do it without a harness and carrying my camera equipment. Following an afternoon rainstorm I was not comfortable descending the way I came up, and decided to descend into Johnsbach on the other side of the mountain and call the very convenient "Gesäusetaxi" Taxi service that runs in the valley to commute hikers back and forth.
You can view my activity on Strava below:
I commenced the hike at the Parkplatz Wasserfallweg just off the road near the Kummerbrücke bridge, up the Wasserfallweg which ascends all the way up to the Hesshütte (1691m) which sits in the middle of the plateau surrounded by peaks either side of it. I decided to follow the Hochzinödl panoramaweg trail to the rather easily accessible two-thousand meter peak with exceptional views of Hochtor. After returning to the Hesshütte (1691m), I then commenced to follow the trail up to summit the Planspitze. However, I was unable to summit when a freak thunderstorm hit the mountains while I was about 20 minutes from summiting. After hiding under some rocks for half an hour, I was rapidly becoming cold, and decided to abort the summit attempt. Instead, I fortunately decided to quickly head up to the top of Peternpfad trail to see the views of the Enns valley beneath me. What I was met with was the most breathtaking experience, a sheer one-mile drop beneath my feet and a beautiful backdrop of storm clouds that made for an incredible moody scene. This was the closest i've come to a "spiritual experience" in the mountains. I knew I had to return one day to summit Planspitze, which I did a year later.
The "via-ferrata" ladders on the Wasserfallweg. I climbed up without a harness and my camera equipment, which was one of the most nervous experiences in the mountains. I safely made it but was not keen to descend the same way once the rain hit later in the day. Thankfully there is much easier way down the otherside of the mountain into Johnsback where you can pay 10 euro to get a taxi back to the Wasserfallweg parking lot:
A cloud inversion as I headed up the wasserfallweg trail:
Beautiful scenes from the Hochzinodl panoramaweg trail:
The rocky summit of Hochzinodl:
Heading up the trail from Hesshutte to the Planspitze:
Views from the top of the Peternpfad:
One of the steepest cliffs i've ever stood on with a sheer one mile drop:
The Planspitze in the background. I aborted the summit due to a thunderstorm and lack of remaining daylight, but I returned a year later to tick it off the list.
The Gesause definitely delivered an incredible experience I will never forget . The moody weather made for an enhanced experience and such dramatic photos! Sometimes the best weather is not always going to provide you the best photos. Storm clouds definitely add a lot of drama to picturesque scenes.