Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gross Glockner and Watzmann

After I left Sillian, I drove the Gross Glockner Road to Zell am See. 28 Euro's to drive the pass - that's crazy! I drove to the little lakes east of the Gross Glockner which, if taking this route would bring us through the turning point. The weather, bad already, got worse, and with the low cloud, there was no sign of the Gross Glockner. Once I got to Zell am See, I drove to Kaprun and checked out the west side of the Gross Glockner. While asking for directions at a restaurant I met Michael (working for a company building cable lifts across valley's). Michael offered me to drive up to the dammed lakes, and minutes later we drove through a "private" 7 km long tunnel up to the lakes. From the lakes you can hike over to the Weiss See and then fly down to "Kals am Gross Glockner". Going this way will get through the turn point, but although it is shorter, it is very alpine and not along a road, allowing very few landing options.
After this little adventure I headed back to Saalfelden via Zell am See. Here, I received a SMS from Michael Pohl (Team Nova Pilot) stating that he would meet me at 8:45 at the train station in Lienz to go flying. So I turned around and drove back to Lienz, but this time via the "Tauern" tunnel.
I got up early (5:00 am) in the morning and decided to drive into "Kals am Gross Glockner to check out the area where you would come out from the Weiss See. This area looks great with a lot of landing possibilities if needed. Also once you get out and land in the valley, there are are great hiking trails across the next range down to Sillian.
8:45 Saturday morning I met Michael and we decided to take a taxi up to the Hochstein. The weather indicated that we would probably just have a glide down into the valley, so instead of rushing we enjoyed coffee and cake and chatting at the Hochstein hut. After this we hiked about 30 minutes to the Hochstein summit. While we took our time, we could see that the sky was trying to open up. After about another 90 minutes the sky was was only about 40% overcast and the sun could do her job. We launched to the north-west (due the main wind direction) and climbed up to 2800 meters resulting in a little cross-country flight of about 25 km to to Sillian. This was a great flight, nice thermals and good fun. Michael tried to fly back but got stopped by the rain which had been following us on our flight. From Sillian I took the train going back to Lienz and joined Michael for supper. We evaluated our flight and discussed our options for this area in the X-Alps. Thanks again to Michael for spending the whole day with me.

On Saturday evening last week, I headed to Zell am See via the Tauern tunnel. I camped in Zell am see and drove the next morning to Koenigs See to check out the Watzman area. It started to rain and I checked in at the closest campground to the Koenigs See. I asked a couple questions and within 5 minutes Alois arrived and greeted me with my full name. I looked at him and wondered from where and how I would know him. A lot of people do know my first name but not my first and last name. Well, it turned out that he is a huge Xalps fan and he knows everything about everything and everyone.
The day was still early and I decided to hike into the Wimbachtal and up to the See Horn. This 24 km long and 1500 meter elevation proved to be an option for the Xalps if the weather allows to fly somewhat.
I got back late to the campground, showered, and had a couple beers with Alois and Richard, also a huge Xalps fan. Wow, I got treated like a king, and was given an incredible rate for staying, eating, drinking (more then I wanted) at his brother in law's campground. The next day started with light rain and escalated into a lot of rain. I then packed up and drove to Fuschel am see to meet Nick Warren from Zoom productions. Then continued on right away to Aschau to see Till (Team Nova Pilot) to pick up his Garmin 60CX which includes all the hiking and topographical maps from the xalps tour. This is awesome and will make it easier to navigate rather than always trying to find the right trail over the mountians. I would also like to thank Garmin again for lending me the Garmin Nuvi for the supporter van and a Orgegon to see the topographical maps as well. I am sure, if I would not have used the Garmin GPS for driving and hiking, I would have had a lot of frustrating moments to navigatge throught the alps all by my self. This tool will also be a great asset for Penny during the race.
After the visit with Till I rushed to Kempten (my home town) as I knew I will have Internet access for my Monday evening conference call.
The next couple of days is to get ready with the appartment and the arrival of Penny and the kids. Can't wait to see them.

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