Charlie Donnelly

July 28 2020


Through summer, outdoor enthusiasts are typically heading off in different directions. Climbing in Corsica, surfing in Indonesia or mountaineering in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. This summer is different. With border restrictions limiting movement, a unique opportunity presents itself: to discover the beautiful scenery that surrounds us.

Innsbruck-based snowboarder, Thomas Kigle, is a huge advocate of local summer adventures. Read on for some musings from Kigle about the mountains perched right on his doorstep.

My plan for summer is a good one, and it’s very simple: explore what’s close to me. Achensee is quite near my home in Innsbruck and the mountains that loom over this popular lake are just beautiful. These peaks can be very busy through summer due to their easy access, so you have to get a little bit crafty to find some space for yourself. Equipped with an inflatable sleeping mat, a sleeping bag, a bivouac bag, 3 liters of water and delicious sandwiches, the tour into the Rofan Mountains begins.

I set off in the late afternoon, when more people were hiking towards me than going in the same direction. Little by little, the mountains became quieter and very peaceful. To be the last soul at the top of a peak, and to spend the night outdoors brings a feeling of joy which is hard to describe. The emptiness shows the true majesty of the Alps and a unique feeling surfaces as soon as the sun starts to set. You are left to your own devices, and in that moment the surrounding calm feels unusual. However, the intense colors in the sky cast a spell on those who tune in; it’s a much better show then anything you can see on a curved 4K display.

Achensee Hike Cows

Dawn and sunrise offer something special, which is only intensified in the mountains. These peaks impressively demonstrate their size, breadth and power in the last and first light of day. Birds come by to say hello and start their journey flying around the peaks looking for breakfast. After I have found and finished my own breakfast, the next stop is a mountain lake to freshen up. As soon as you move further than a single day trip allows, you meet almost nobody else. Except for cows, there are many of them, no matter the altitude. The remoteness and the early start to the day give the whole undertaking its own character. And as long as you have enough food and water, or money for a stop at an alpine hut, you can enjoy nature in peace and quiet. Just make sure to check the weather forecast for rain and thunderstorms.

The second evening was very windy, so I found a spot for my sleeping bag in the lee of a remote hut below the mighty Rofanturm. This had the advantage of a flat surface to lie on, that was free from sharp stones and the danger of falling rock. The starry sky invited me in to sleep and to dream.

Sleeping Bag Sunset

On my final morning, I drank up the last of my water, and with an empty stomach, I turned down valley to find my next meal, while ruminating over my next adventure.

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