Autumn has ended in Austria and the mountains are coated in snow, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland.
The arrival of snow signals the start of skiing and snowboarding as resorts get ready to open to the public. The snow also signals the end of hiking season in Tirol as trails disappear and become ski runs for the winter.
The last hike of autumn (two weeks ago) was to Ellmauer Tor in the Wilder Kaiser. Ellmauer Tor is not a mountain summit. It is a rock saddle creating a gap between Ackerlspitze and Ellmauer Halt. It sits at 2,000 metres though, so it’s worth the hike to sit in the middle of two summits and admire the view.
Ellmauer Tor Route
The hike is steep and quickly rises in elevation. It also crosses sections of gravel, meaning footwear with strong ankle support is a must for this route. We started at Wochenbrunner Alm car park at 1,080m and followed the trail to Gaudeamus Hut at 1,270m. From there, the 812 trail bends left and starts to climb up the mountain.
There are regular sign posts clearly displaying the route and the path runs along the left of the steep, gravel section, winding through high alpine vegetation. During one stretch, chains and handles have been installed into the rock wall to help hikers navigate the steep, narrow path. It’s important to be sure footed as the elevation increases and hiking poles can be beneficial for the final gravel section (especially if descending down the same route – it’s easy to slip on the gravel).
At Ellamauer Tor, there is plenty of space to sit, recharge and look out across the neighbouring mountains. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to reach the top, and for those seeking a further challenge, the summit of Hintere Goinger Halt at 2,192m is just another 45 minutes up the mountain.
What to pack
Hiking to Ellamauer Tor is a medium-ability day hike with a total time of just over five hours. Good hiking boots are essential, and as the weather can change quickly in the Wilder Kaiser mountains, it’s a good idea to pack a light windbreaker and rain jacket.
If hiking in the summer months, be sure to include sunscreen and sunglasses. If hiking in the autumn, pack gloves and a hat. It may be warm in the sunshine at Wochenbrunner Alm, but the wind at Ellmauer Tor is cold. Always take plenty of water, food (sandwiches, trail mix, fruit) and maybe even a flask of coffee/tea to warm up at the top. Finally, enjoy the nature, the views and the fresh mountain air.