Hike from the Fane Alm to the Seefeldspitze
Around the Vals valley there are a few summits that do offer great panoramic views of the Dolimite mountains in the south and the Zillertaler alps to the north. After not being able to get to the summit of the Wilde Kreuzspitze I decided to climb the Seefeldspitze the next day. The tour starts at the parking lot of the Fanealm too. Those who are in a hurry can take the shortcut over a steep path that mounts straight to the summit. If you want to have it less strenous then follow the forest road leading to the Tschirnaun alp. After this cabin there aren’t many signs showing you the way, but since you are in open terrain it is easy to orientate yourself and find your way. Curios? Then read on.
An early start
Day 4 of my stay in Vals and the weather is picture perfect. So I don’t waste any time and get ready for my next hike. Shortly I consider to make a second attempt to climb the Wilde Kreuzspitze but in the end I decide to go for another tour. Starting point is again the parking lot just below the Fanealm. Today I do have to drive that narrow, winding road up the mountain. While driving along the short, steep stretch I do hope that nobody will come in my direction. This would be something like a worst-case scenario. I am lucky and nobody comes along. Now that this challenge has been met I can start right away.
It is rather fresh this morning and I am happy that I brought along a warm jacket. I follow the steep path through the shade in the forest. Due to the cold temperatures in the morning it takes a while before my muscles are warming up. I am not sure if it is because I am starting so early but today I am again almost the only one on the mountain. No soul to be seen.
Which trail to take?
30 minutes later I reach a forest road that crosses my path. I could continue straight up the mountain but decide to walk along the road allthough it will probably take longer. The advantage of this trail is that it is sunnier and not so steep. Since I have to conquer approx. 3300 ft. today I want to save some of my energy.
The road is to walk comfortably and from time to time I come across clearings offering great panoramic views. The sun, the deep blue sky and the impressive mountain scenery: a dream. I did choose a great location for my vacation. Unhurriedly I follow the road and soon reach a waterfall. Actually it consists of two falls the right arm not being so spectacular. But the left arm is filled with plenty of water.
Wild animal ahead
Shortly after passing the waterfall I reach another crossing. As of my map the road does take a long turn here and since I don’t know how long it would take me to walk this I decide to take the short cut and follow the steep path that crosses here. This path leads through dense forest to a cabin in ruins where the trail looses itself in high grass. The clearing has something enchanted. While I am still trying to find the path I can hear a roaring that sounds like a barking. Suddenly a doe jumps out of the brush not far from me and runs uphill. The animal did frighten me quite a bit. On the other hand she had the kindness to show me the way since she was fleeing along the hiking trail.
The angry roars of the doe do continue for quite a while. It is a bit spooky being all alone in the middle of this forest but the fresh crisp air feels great. Slowly I climb the steep slope in front of me and soon I reach the road I was following earlier. This is where the woods end. I have reached the timber line. In front of me there is a pasture that is surrounded by rocky summits.
The last stretch
About 5 minutes later I reach the Stinalm. As per my map I have the choice of two trails here. One would pass the alp on the right hand side direction Fensterlekofel and Großer Seefeldsee. I decide to follow the sign that leads me to the Tschiffernaunalm before ascending to the Seefeldspitze. When I started at the parking lot I saw that this cabin is offering drinks and refreshments. That would be much apprectiated now.
While there are still grazing cattle at the Stinalm I have to realize that the Tschiffernaunalm is already closed for winter. Everything is locked up. Too bad. I would have loved to get a drink and a snack. At least there is a bench. I sit down and take a short break. The cabin sits on 7300 ft. which means that I have another 1640 ft. in front of me. Half of the ascent lies behind me. The view from here is fantastic.
Behind the Tschiffernaunalm the path continues steeply along a dry creek crossing the pasture. There are no signs anymore but the direction is pretty obvious. At the cabin I meet two young women that want to climb the Seefeldspitze as well. Together we are searching for the trail. At the end of the basin there are two trenches. We assume that we can reach the summit by crossing either one and decide to take the one on the right hand side.
The terrain is getting rockier and the path leads over rubble. It is pretty slip-proof and the climb is easy to handle. Once again the path is fading out, so I decide to take the straight way over the rubble. Coming down from the summit are two men. They tell us that we have almost reached the end and that a few steps ahead we will be walking on grass again. So let’s go!
The ascent over the rubble is a bit strenous but 20 minutes later it is done and I now get a view of the mountains to the east of the Seefeldpitze. On this side of the trench there is almost no rubble anymore. The pasture is going all the way up to the summit. Back in the hotel I was told that the ascent via the Altfaß valley is more comfortable but not so diversified.
So I take a deep breath of the clean mountain air and enjoy the view for a minute. I now have the finish in front of me. The path across the pasture is easy to walk. The last stretch up to the summit is again a bit steeper and the trail winds itself along a steep flank. This could become a challenge for people that are afraid of heights. In the clear autumn air the view gets more spectacular with every step.
Finally it’s done. I have reached the summit of the Seefeldspitze rising 8900 ft. into the sky. What a view! This is something I have to admire for a while. So I unwrap my lunch. The sun shines from a deep blue sky. As always when I reach a summit a feeling of pride of having accomplished this task and deep admiration of natures beauty gets the better part of me. And I think that it’s been worth the strain. After having enjoyed this surrounding for quite a while I start the descent. Usually I would take another trail in descending but since I have to get back to my car I can’t do this today.
A narrow ridge
There is a sceond trail leading back to the Tschiffernaunalm. That’s the one I want to walk, to be able to tell which one is the easier way. There is no rubble on the path to the Steinbergscharte but it is leading over a really narrow ridge. Here you absolutely have to be sure footed and not be afraid of heights. Careful and highly concentrated I am working my way to the Steinbergscharte.
On the other hand I love such challenges during my tours. If it wouldn’t be for them I could take a stroll along the valley floor. I have to admit though that I wouldn’t walk this ridge on a rainy day. Whenever it is possible I stop for a second and take in the great view. In front of me the summit of the Ribigenspitz rises into the sky. The two women I have met earlier are following me and walk the same path. One of them seems to have some trouble with the height and continues very slowly.
After a while I reach the Steinbergscharte. From here I have to walk to the Tschiffernaunalm across the pasture again without any sign of a trail. One last time I enjoy the view into the valley called Stoanlaberg (meaining mountain of stones) leading north direction Austria. Since there is no trail I walk across the grass. There are no signs either. But how should you place any signs here in the open terrain? I guess that there is a lot of snow up here in winter and you woud have to renew the marks every spring.
Shortly after I am back at the Tschiffernaunalm. The Vals valley stretches out again in front of me. Before I have to enter the woods again I take a break and enjoy a few rays of sunshine. That feels great. Since I will have to make quite a long way to my car I continue a few moments later.
Descending to the Fanealm
I am walking now again along the road that leds to the alps up here. Just behind the Stinalm the leaves of the alpine roses are shining in a bright red in the afternoon sun. Must be beautiful to see them bloom in early summer. At a crossing I see a sign showing a way to the Fanealm. Since I want to go for a drink in one of those cabins I follow the path that leads across the pasture for another while. The strain of the ascent is soon forgotten.
I come across a few more places where the alpine roses show their red foliage. Across the pasture I pass a few more cabins of the lower Stinalm. They give great photo shots. In the afternoon it is pleasantly warm. Just the perfect temperature for a hike. The noise of the big city is so far away up here. This allows me to recuperate and fill up my power tanks before the long and grey winter which is not too far away anymore.
Back in the forest
Before finally entering the dense forest again I get another great view of the Vals valley. I really do like this region and I would like to come back. I still have to get tot the Wilde Kreuzspitze. To climb a 10000 ft. summit is still on my bucket list.
Soon I do reach the cabins of the Fanealm. A few moments before I reach them I see again the two women I have met below the summit. We are waving for a last time. Minutes later I am sitting at one of the rustic cabins of this alpine village and finally enjoy a refreshment. Life can be so beautiful and it really doesn’t take much to make me happy.
Since it is not too late I decide to drive back to the hotel and make profit of the nice wellness center. During the downhill drive I am lucky again and no one comes my way on the narrow road. This is the end of my second last day here. And I was able to hike another great tour.
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