On the first weekend after introduction of the Klimaticket in 2021 I decided to make a trip to the far west of Austria, first a two-day hike in Vorarlberg, then visiting a bit the lake Constanze region. As most huts close latest around the national Austrian holiday on October 26th, it was difficult to find a proper route with an open Winterraum for the weekend afterwards, but in my opinion my hike was a great choice. In Summer with an open hut, but also in off-season just in the winterraum and in exchange being alone in peace.
From Innerlaterns I went to the Freschenhaus, slept there, then via the long, not exposed ridge to Hoher Freschen, Mörzelspitze and descending down to the Bödele area and catching there the bus again. The link for the map.
Although Vorarlberg seems to be far away, it was not a problem reaching a hut within a day from Linz (or Vienna), from closer areas, even shorter. As days are short in late October, I left Linz at 6:44 with the railjet towards Switzerland, leaving it in Feldkirch and taking a regional train to Rankweil. There, changing to local bus 65 towards Laterns and going till Innerlaterns Skilift. At 12:53 I have already been at my start of the hike.
Departure is from the skiing area Bödele Passhöhe with busses every 30min in 19min to Dornbirn train station. From there trains to wherever you want to continue (I went via Switzerland to lake Constanze). If you arrive by car it is probably best parking in Rankweil and taking the bus to Innerlaterns. Returning from Dornbirn is easy with a the train S1 leaving every 30 min. Alternatively, parking already in Dornbirn and taking the train to Rankweil the first day is also a good option.
From the parking lots and bus stop there are signs. The hike is in the beginning mainly through a forest, sometimes you see the skiing slopes and its infrastructure. After around 1,5 h of walking you leave the skiing area behind you and can enjoy the nature without any cable cars. To Freschenhaus it is around 2.5 h, can be shortened, when the cable car is working.
View back down to the start. From May till early October the summer alpine slide is operational, as well as the cable car.
For skiing slopes it does not look too bad, the grass is in late October still green and no erosion.
Leaving the skiing area, passing the Alpe Saluver, which offers drinks and food during the summer months, when they cultivate the alpine pasture. The mountain in the back left is Hoher Freschen.
Approaching the Freschenhaus, to the back the ridge with the summit of Hoher Freschen.
Enjoying the last sunshine and reading news on the terrace of the hut, quite lonely when it is closed.
Next to the hut, there is a small chapel. Difficult to beat its panorama, inside they offer cute postcards as well in exchange for a donation.
When approaching the hut, to the right is the first peak of the day: Matona. With 1997 m just slightly smaller than Hoher Freschen. As there was enough time it was a very pleasant evening walk!
On the way back from Matona to Freschenhaus with sunset incoming. Different paths lead to Matona so you can make a roundtrip. I also checked the path for the next day on the way back as I planned to leave during darkness and wanted to be sure that it is not difficult and easy to find (both not a problem).
Sunset, the mountain range to the right of the sun: Schesaplana, 2965 m high and highest of the Rätikon mountain range.
The inside of the Winterraum.
Super cozy Winterraum, electricity did not last too long, also with several other people enough space. Cutlery, dishes, all impressive regarding the fact that they become due to vandalism the equipment gets sparer and sparer and often the rooms are even closed. So keep this in mind and leave the facility clean(er).
No need for leaving the hut to use the toilet, not too common and comfortable.
Many stars on top of the hut, mainly the very industrial and luminous alpine Rhine valley is lightening the sky after the sunset.
Being alone in a hut without electricity led to the fact that I slept super early, woke up even before the alarm and planned to be for the sunrise already at the summit of Hoher Freschen. It seemed a waste of time for stay- for breakfast inside a dark hut, with sun it should also be warmer than without in November days.
View to Switzerland, just seperated by the still foggy Rhine valley, opposite the Alpstein, a supgroup of the Appenzeller alps. To the left, there is Altmann summit, the snowy part in the center is Säntis, 2502 m high. It can also be reached with a cable car and has a panoramic terrace and a huge antenna on top, which makes it easier to recognize from further away. The Seealpsee in its valley is a great trip, also doable with train and bus, from Vorarlberg, Konstanz or St. Gallen.
Hoher Freschen summit.
View down to the Binnelgrat (Grat=ridge), rope secured. Due to a landslide it was closed for a couple of months, but as of 2021 it was fully restored again. By far the most difficult and exposed part of the trip. If you do not feel safe enough, you can also skip it and just return from the peak back to your starting point.
Such a kind of ridge you follow most of the time, hardly exposed, still awesome. Especially when you look back like on the picture below it is great to see how you get more and more distance between yourself and the summit, just following the ridgeline.
Mörzelspitze, in the back well protected by the fog, the lake Constanze.
There are several huts on the way. Alpe Weißenfluh is the first of the day, in November it was still open. Followed by the Naturfreunde Bregenzer Hütte, which was closed, so I went for Lustenauer Hütte, good Käsespätzle.
On the way to Hochälpelekopf, the last peak before descending via the skiing ressort, there is the Hochälpelehütte. On the second day there are many huts to choose from. Or choose any and have a very relaxed day.
The summit of Hochälpele with its signs, next and last stop Bödele. From there buses leave every 30 min, even on Sundays, back to Dornbirn. Last one around 6 pm, during summer 7 pm. In case the trip gets too long and you miss it, there is accommodation on Bödele as well and its only one road down to Dornbirn so hitch-hiking will do its job as well.
Day one from Innerlaterns to Hoher Freschen, including Matona, it took me around 3 h, 900 m ascent, 250 m of descent. Day two more than 20 km, 1800 m uphill, 1000 downhill, definitly something and I needed 6 h. Being alone, hardly breaks should make it faster than average. From mountain runners, easily doable in a day as well. Going down to Ebnit for example can shorten it a bit as well. In overall really stunning hike, with a open Freschenhaus also for average hikers cool, hardly possible to follow such a long (and easy ridge).