Bergsportwoche Ellmau: the best outdoor adventures in the Wilder Kaiser
Each year the Austrian town Ellmau organises the Bergsportwoche (‘mountain sports week’), a week filled with outdoor adventures for anyone who loves being in the mountains. Together with the towns of Scheffau, Going and Söll, Ellmau makes the Wilder Kaiser, a mountainous area on the southern side of the Kaiser Mountains. This mountainrange is one of the prettiest in Austria with over 40 peaks to climb and a favorite among climbers and fellow outdoor fans. A few years back I already visited the Kaiser Mountains from the Kufstein side, this year I was invited to come to Ellmau and experience the Bergsportwoche.
The idea behind the Bergsportwoche is easy: you can join outdoor activities for a fixed price during this week, all with a professional guide of course. Activities organized for example are Via Ferrata, canyoneering, hiking and rock climbing. You can book packages for 3, 4, 5 or 6 days and register for those activities. You will also need to include your experience so you can be sure to join fellow adventurers of the same experience level. In this blog I’m sharing an overview of the outdoor activities I did during the Bergsportwoche as well as some tips for things to do in the Wilder Kaiser on a rainy day.
Together with the guides from Outdoor Hofer I will experience canyoneering. I’ve done this once before in Zion National Park, however that time it was just in the mountains and not in the water, as I’m about to experience this time. The day starts in the woods close to the beautiful Hintersteiner See in Scheffau, where I receive a quick explanation of how the gear works and practise with various ziplines and rappelling. After a stop at the lake for a small lunch, it’s time to drive to Taxerbachklamm where I’m putting on my drysuit. After a short hike up to the canyon, it’s time to go inside. I do three rappels and slide down on various waterfalls. Jumping is also an option but I’m passing for that since I injured my arm earlier during the day. In total the distance I cover inside the canyon is some 350 meters, with the temperature being around 8-10 degrees. It’s an exciting afternoon suitable for anyone who loves outdoor and has no fear of heights and/or water.
Another cool activity I got to try during the Bergsportwoche is e-mountainbiking. Even though you may think you won’t need an e-bike, I will tell you otherwise. Unless you’re an experienced mountainbiker, you will totally need it. This beginners tour has a total altitude gain of some 1.100 meters and trust me: not all of them are very gradual. And since it’s an e-bike, the tour is fun for everyone, even those who are not experienced bikers. The tour follows both paved and unpaved trails and gives me information about how to use my bike, safely cross small rivers and how to go down on steep sections. A truly nice experience! Tip: if you want to learn more, you can also participate in their technique training, after which you will fully understand how to use your bike in all kinds of terrain and head into the mountains filled with confidence.
The German name for Via Ferrata is Klettersteig and this activity is a great way to experience mountaineering without having previous climbing experience. Earlier I did one in Achensee and also in the Dolomites so it wasn’t something completely new to me, however it’s always fun to see how the Ferrata will be made as they are all different and unique. But unfortunately, the weather decided not to cooperate and after the mountainbike tour, it started raining cats and dogs and so the Via Ferrata tour was cancelled. Some ferratas can be done in rain but the one we planned on doing, the Klamml Klettersteig, was not one of them unfortunately. And so instead I spent my afternoon in the spa of the hotel, which wasn’t a bad thing either.
The picture below shows the Klamml Klettersteig. This is do-able for beginners who have no fear of heights. The first part of this Ferrata is level B/C and after the crossover showed in the picture, it becomes a D. If you have passed the first section without problems you can continue, otherwise you can step out of the Ferrata half way down and hike further up instead. More information about the Klamml Klettersteig can be found on the Wilder Kaiser website.
Hiking in the Rehbachklamm
The Rehbachklamm is a small canyon just outside of the beautiful town of Scheffau am Wilder Kaiser. As the trail is mostly covered by trees, it’s even a nice hike to do on a rainy day, like I did. You will follow a small river across bridges, stairs and sometimes a steep trail. I only hiked the lower part, but the full hike is some 1.5 hours and covers about 5.5 km in distance. More information can be found here.
This one is not very outdoor-minded, however when you have rain for the second day in a row (which is, of course, not unthinkable in the mountains) there are plenty of fun alternatives. One of them is doing a schnapps tasting. Schnapps is a local liquor and a true tradition in the mountains. There are many different kinds and flavors, such as fruits (apricot, raspberry), nuts and mint. During a tasting at the awarded distillery Mühlberg Rem Schaubrennerei I try various schnapps as well as the Mountain Gin. A fun thing to do for the afternoon!
Other fun things to do in Wilder Kaiser
Apart from the above I’ve got some extra tips for fun things to do in Wilder Kaiser. Things that can be done by anyone, without participating in the Bergsportwoche and things that are easily accessible for anyone. Here goes:
– Visit Hintersteiner See and take a walk along the banks of the emerald colored water. Or sit down on the terrace of one of the restaurants and take an Apfelstrudel. Mit oder ohne Sahne.
– Have a breakfast on the mountain. The Wilder Kaiser has various places where they serve a delicious breakfast for you. I went to Alpengasthaus Stallhäusel in Söll. Truly recommended!
– Take a hike or a drive during sunset and watch the Wilder Kaiser mountains change color as the sun sets. A very special experience!
– Visit Wochenbrunner Alm, high in the mountains above Ellmau. You will have to pay a small entrance fee, but it’s well worth it. From here you can start various amazing hikes, enjoy the sun out on the terrace or grab a lunch at the restaurant. Their Käsespätzle was very tasty!
Additional information about the Bergsportwoche in Ellmau
The Bergsportwoche is being organized by the local tourism board each year. As opposed to as you may think, it’s not a very big event, each year about 50 people can participate. The fun thing about this is that you will meet the same people over and over during your activities and possibly during the evening. At night, there will be the Bergsportstammtische. Each night this is at a different restaurant and you can join the other adventurers for dinner and drinks.
The overnights during the Bergsportwoche you need to arrange yourself. In Ellmau and the surrounding towns there are plenty of options for every budget. I stayed at Hotel Kaiserblick, a very nice four star hotel which has, as the name indicates, a beautiful view of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains. I stayed here including half board. Breakfast was an amazing buffet and dinner was a five course meal each night. The hotel has a great spa and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
I made this trip with fellow outdoorblogger Mirre of Mirre op Reis and we were invited by the Wilder Kaiser region to promote the region and the Bergsportwoche. As always, all given opinions are only my own.
The photos in this article were made by Mirre Oost of Mirre op Reis, the Ferrata picture was made by Peter von Felbert & Daniel Reiter.
Want to read more about Austria? Then you may also enjoy the following posts:
– Hiking the Gaisalmsteig at Achensee
– Pretty Kaisertal in pictures
– The prettiest mountain lakes in Austria … next to the highway!
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Thanks for sharing!