In the summer of 2023, we pushed ourselves to the limit by hiking 4 multi-day hut tours in just over 3 weeks. Awesome? Absolutely. Crazy? Maybe a little bit. Stijn and I love being in the mountains the whole time and challenge ourselves physically every day. The children were a bit more mixed in their enthusiasm. At times they found it enjoyable (especially when going downhill, or eating and sleeping in the mountain huts), but sometimes they found it significantly less fun (especially the steep ascents and the long hiking days). Despite the fact that they were very proud of themselves and thought it was really cool what they achieved, we had to promise them afterwards that we will not be going on any more hut hikes for at least 2 years.
Without exception, the hikes were phenomenally beautiful, just look at the photos. I was perhaps the most impressed by the mountains around Mürren in Switzerland. The mountain peaks are so impressive up there and they are so close to you that you seem to be able to touch them. However, the routes I chose were sometimes just over the edge, particularly in terms of difficulty. My poor knees did not like the long descents at all. And because the weather conditions were not optimal, we occasionally had to improvise quite a bit during the treks. Hiking in the mountains with lots of rain, fog and thunderstorms is not always ideal. Halfway through the hike in Switzerland, a summer storm hit us and we had to cancel one of our hikes after 4 days out of 6. It was really not responsible to continue walking. At this point it may sound like we only had bad weather. This really wasn’t the case, we also had a lot of sunshine. But when the weather is bad in the mountains, it’s just immediately tough going and you need to be extra careful.
A factor I had already taken into consideration when planning the difficulty of the route, but which we still underestimated, was Stijn’s degree of fear of heights. Despite the fact that he loves walking in the mountains, the tension within him grew a little more with every trek. With each precipice, his struggles got worse. Finally, during the third hike in the Montafon in Austria, he decided not to join us for the last hike in Italy. He regretted it immensely, but it was no longer safe for himself or for me and the children to continue. On the steep parts, he would shuffle along completely numb with fear, foot by foot, with Tessel in front of him acting as his rescue dog. After careful family deliberation, he decided to call it quits, and we put him on the train heading for home in Innsbruck.
So the three of us went on the last hike in the Rosengarten Massif in the Dolomites. And what a spectacular hike this was! It was a good thing Stijn wasn’t here, because this hike really was quite challenging. The basic path towards the Rifugio Vajolet is doable, but all the paths around it are narrow and steep. A real climb and scramble! This part of the Dolomites is well and truly advanced hiking terrain. Every day we had to weigh up what we dared to do. In the end, we hiked a beautiful route, with the absolute highlight being the overnight stay in the Santnerpass hut. This futuristic hut sits on the edge of a 1,000-metre cliff. A mountain hut cannot be much more spectacular than this.
If you would like to know more about the routes we hiked, just click on the links below.