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Trekking Munich to Venice
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Summary

This guidebook describes the 570km (354 mile) Traumpfad or 'Dream Way', an Alpine trek from Munich's Mariënplatz to the Piazza San Marco in Venice. The route is broken into 30 stages of between 5hrs 30mins and 9hrs, graded according to difficulty, with 5 alternative stages and the option to spend a day traversing a section of via ferrata in the Dolomites. Previous experience of Alpine trekking is not necessary as the route is suitable for most able walkers: however, a head for heights is essential. 

Known as 'Europe's playground', the Alps boast an unrivalled walking infrastructure and breath-taking views of angular peaks, flower-strewn valleys and verdant slopes. Hugely popular with German trekkers but little-known in the English-speaking world, Der Traumpfad revels in this stunning scenery. The route passes through German Bavaria then Austria before entering the Italian Tyrol, taking advantage of the region's extensive network of mountain huts for accommodation en route. 

With custom-designed mapping and stunning colour photography, the guide has all you need to get the best from your trek. Alongside detailed route descriptions, there is useful practical advice on when to go, what to take and refreshment stops, background information on the region's fascinating history, plants and wildlife and full contact details for over 80 places to stay. The result is an ideal companion to discovering this amazing route, regarded by many German trekkers as 'the hiking experience of a lifetime'.
Published: Cicerone Press on
ISBN: 9781783624249
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TREKKING MUNICH TO VENICE

THE TRAUMPFAD, ‘DREAM WAY’, A CLASSIC TREK ACROSS THE EASTERN ALPS

by John Hayes

2 POLICE SQUARE, MILNTHORPE, CUMBRIA LA7 7PY

www.cicerone.co.uk

About the Author

John Hayes is a retired management consultant with degrees from Liverpool University and University College London. Immediately after finishing work in 2011 he embarked on an epic 5000km trek across Europe, walking from Tarifa in Spain to Budapest. John has written for numerous walking and trekking magazines.

Having walked various parts of the Munich to Venice route on different visits to the Alps John, with his wife Christine, embarked on his first through walk in 2014 returning again in 2015 to complete additional research.

Other Cicerone guides by the author

Spain’s Sendero Histórico: The GR1

© John Hayes 2016

First edition 2016

ISBN: 978 1 85284 804 0

Printed by KHL Printing, Singapore

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

All photographs are by the author unless otherwise stated.

Route mapping by Lovell Johns www.lovelljohns.com

Contains OpenStreetMap.org data © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA. NASA relief data courtesy of ESRI

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Max and Frances Harre for testing an early version of the route description in 2015. Some of their photographs have been included in this guide.

Updates to this Guide

While every effort is made by our authors to ensure the accuracy of guidebooks as they go to print, changes can occur during the lifetime of an edition. Any updates that we know of for this guide will be on the Cicerone website (www.cicerone.co.uk/804/updates), so please check before planning your trip. We also advise that you check information about such things as transport, accommodation and shops locally. Even rights of way can be altered over time.

The route maps in this guide are derived from publicly available data, databases and crowd-sourced data. As such they have not been through the detailed checking procedures that would generally be applied to a published map from an official mapping agency, although we have reviewed them closely in the light of local knowledge as part of the preparation of this guide.

We are always grateful for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground, sent by email to updates@cicerone.co.uk or by post to Cicerone, 2 Police Square, Milnthorpe LA7 7PY, United Kingdom.

Front cover: Approaching the Kaserer Shartl (Stage 11B)

CONTENTS

Map key

Overview map

Overview profile

Route summary table

Introduction

History of the region

The invention of a mountain pilgrimage

The route

The Alpine seasons

Alpine flowers, animals and birds

What’s the walking like?

How hard is it?

How long will it take?

When to go

Accommodation

Hut life

Planning your walk

What to take

Finding your way

Using this guide

1 Munich to the Inn Valley

Stage 1 Munich to Wolfratshausen

Stage 2 Wolfratshausen to Bad Tölz

Stage 3 Bad Tölz to the Tutzinger Hütte

Stage 4 Tutzinger Hütte to Vorderriß

Stage 5 Vorderriß to the Karwendelhaus

Stage 6 Karwendelhaus to the Hallerangerhaus

Stage 7A Hallerangerhaus to Hall

Stage 7B Hallerangerhaus to Wattens

2 Inn Valley to Pfunders

Stage 8A Hall to the Glungezer Hütte

Stage 8B Wattens to the Lizumer Hütte

Stage 9 Glungezer Hütte to the Lizumer Hütte

Stage 10 Lizumer Hütte to the Tuxer Joch Haus

Stage 11A Tuxer Joch Haus to the Olpererhütte

Stage 11B Tuxer Joch Haus to the Geraerhütte

Stage 12A Olpererhütte to Stein

Stage 12B Geraerhütte to Stein

Stage 13 Stein to Pfunders

3 Pfunders to Alleghe

Stage 14 Pfunders to Kreuzwiesen Alm

Stage 15 Kreuzwiesen Alm to the Schlüterhütte (Rifugio Genova)

Stage 16 Schlüterhütte to the Puezhütte

Stage 17 Puezhütte (Rifugio Puez) to Rifugio Boè

Stage 18 Rifugio Boè to Rifugio Viel dal Pan

Stage 19 Rifugio Viel dal Pan to Alleghe

4 Alleghe to Belluno

Stage 20 Alleghe to Rifugio Tissi

Stage 21 Rifugio Tissi to Rifugio Bruto Carestiato

Stage 22 Rifugio Bruto Carestiato to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

Stage 23A Rifugio Pian de Fontana to Rifugio 7th Alpini

Stage 23B Rifugio Pian de Fontana to Belluno

Stage 24 Rifugio 7th Alpini to Belluno

5 Belluno to Venice

Stage 25 Belluno to Rifugio Col Visentin

Stage 26 Rifugio Col Visentin to Tarzo

Stage 27 Tarzo to Ponte della Priulä

Stage 28 Ponte della Priulä to Bocca Callalta

Stage 29 Bocca Callalta to Jesolo

Stage 30 Jesolo to Venice

Appendix A Route planner

Appendix B Accommodation along the route

Appendix C Useful contacts

ROUTE SUMMARY TABLE

The colourful canals of Venice at journey’s end (Stage 30)

INTRODUCTION

A view of Hintertux glacier from the Tux Alps (Stage 10)

Ever since Hannibal crossed the Alps the challenge of traversing Europe’s biggest mountain range has attracted walkers from across the planet. Despite this, the Munich to Venice backpacking route – one of the most popular trans-alpine routes – is little known outside the German-speaking world. In Germany walkers regard it as the hiking experience of a lifetime. Each year hundreds of walkers of all shapes and sizes leave Munich’s Mariënplatz, to arrive one month later in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. The walk is known as Der Traumpfad – the Dream Way – and its attractions are immediately apparent. It links two of Europe’s most iconic destinations with a journey across some of the best scenery in the Alps. From the heart of Bavaria, from beirgartens, wurst, and lederhosen, to the Adriatic and prosecco, fritto misto and tiramisù – it’s a journey across cultures as well as mountains.

Most long-distance treks involve compromise when it comes to scenery: breathtaking scenery doesn’t usually organise itself along straight lines, particularly when the lines are 570km long. Accordingly, some of the days on the Traumpfad are less than perfect, particularly the last four on the approach to Venice, but most compare with the best in the Alps. The scenic fireworks start to go off on Stages 3 and 4 with the climb up into Benediktenwand ‘pre-alps’ with its amazing ridge walk, and again on Stages 5, 6 and 7 on the journey through the Karwendel and the climb up its highest mountain, the Birkkarspitz.

Without time to draw breath Stages 8 to 12 cross the Alpine spine itself with an amazing journey through the Tux and Zillertal Alps. In Italy now, and yet more rockets explode. The route traverses the Dolomites, arguably the most beautiful mountains in the world. Stages 14 to 23 are spent crossing the Puez and the Sella groups, walking alongside the famous north face of the Marmolada, and finish with the Civetta (including its enormous west wall) and the Schiara group.

Approaching the Schlüterhütte – the first hut in the Dolomites (Stage 15)

The Traumpfad is like a modern-day pilgrimage – a long walk to an iconic destination but without the religious overtones. Like Chaucer’s pilgrims, walkers travel on a fairly standard schedule and so bump into each other night after night and exchange gossip and stories of their adventures. The company of other walkers, inspired by a common objective, is almost unavoidable and, for most participants, an attractive feature of the Munich to Venice route.

To top it all, the infrastructure is second to none. The Alps are where high-altitude trekking as a mass-participation sport was invented and walkers in their thousands have enjoyed ‘Europe’s playground’ for well over a hundred years. Whether it’s the paths, the waymarking, the steps and fixed steel ropes, or the alpine huts, there is nothing quite like it anywhere else – enabling ordinary walkers to go to extraordinary places.

History of the region

The walk from Munich to Venice passes through three countries – Germany, Austria and Italy – all of which went through intense changes from the mid-19th century which have a direct bearing on the character of the walk.

Munich, capital of Bavaria, is surprisingly ‘imperial’. Bavaria was a distinct country until 1871 when a secret bribe from Bismark persuaded the high living and indebted Ludwig II (called the ‘fairy tale king’ because he built so many castles) to nominate Kaiser Wilhelm I as Emperor of a united Germany. Bavaria retains a special status in Germany to this day and its inhabitants will describe themselves as Bavarian first and German second.

The style of food and accommodation don’t really change when you cross the border from Bavarian Germany into Austria and the two countries share much in terms of culture. Their recent history is also intertwined. The Austro-Hungarian Empire dominated the loose confederation of states that existed before the unification of Germany and, although the triumph of Bismark and Prussia, reversed the power hierarchy, the fate of the new Germany and the old Empire remained connected until after the First World War.

World War I dramatically reset the national boundaries crossed by the Traumpfad. Much more of the walk is now spent in Italy than it might have been! The total collapse of the vast Austro-Hungarian empire resulted in the border moving north with Italy absorbing German-speaking South Tyrol. This results today in an intensely confusing nomenclature from Stage 12 with mountain huts, mountains, towns, cities and food known by two (Italian and German) and sometimes three (Ladin, another local language) names.

The War settled the boundaries of modern Italy and also completed the process of Italian unification that had taken place over the previous 60 years. Italian historians also see it as the great nationalist war and the last part of the Traumpfad visits some key battle sites. Particularly important are the Marmolada – which was the scene of prolonged fighting on top of and underneath the glacier – and the River Piave, witness to the last great battle of the war, the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The last three days of the route follow the Piave on the approach to Venice and the references to the triumph of Italian arms are impossible to miss.

The arrival of alpinism

Parallel to, and intertwined with the national histories of Germany, Austria and Italy is the history of alpinism, walking and the Alpine Clubs.

The attraction of the Alps to mountaineers can be traced back to the late 18th century and is described in a wonderful book The Playground of Europe by Sir Leslie Stephen. As well as being father to Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, Stephen was one of the godfathers of British alpinism and his book, along with Edward Whymper’s Scrambles Amongst the Alps is one of the classics of the genre. As well as describing great adventures it puts the ‘discovery’ of the Alps in the context of a wider search for a simpler but more heroic lifestyle that was going on throughout Europe, known as ‘Romanticism’.

Stephen, Whymper and the British led the ‘golden age’ of climbing in the Alps, the time when, in the 1850s and 1860s, hundreds of peaks where ‘conquered’ for the first time. In Britain climbing and hiking was an elite activity but not so in Germany where the Romantic ideal of the mountains captured the imagination of the new middle class. The British Alpine Club was modelled on an English gentleman’s club with a small select membership but the German equivalent grew rapidly into the world’s largest mass membership sporting organisation. The new membership wanted access to the mountains and the huge infrastructure of mountain huts used today was largely built in the 30 years before the First World War (the names often reflect the local clubs that paid for them – such as the Berliner Hütte).

The German Alpine Club recruited members from the wider German-speaking world (including Austria), and hiking and climbing in the Alps was seen as a ‘German’ activity and closely associated with German nationalism. By the late 19th century this nationalism shamefully became associated with anti-semitism and a number of city and regional associations adopted an ‘Aryan Paragraph’ excluding non-Christian members.

The German Alpine Club, liked most civilian bodies, rallied round the flag at the outbreak of the World War I but the importance of the alpine front against Italy from 1915 gave alpinists a particular significance. Although a small proportion of the huge membership engaged in the fighting the involvement of Alpine Club members became the stuff of legend, reported and repeated through the club journals.

The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the defeat of Germany was a particular blow to the heroes of the alpine front and one that many refused to accept. By the early 1920s the Alpine Club had become a battleground as the emerging Nazi party fought more moderate and left-leaning alpinists for its control. By 1924 Jews were effectively excluded from the Club and its huts.

By the 1930s, the German Alpine Club, like most sporting associations, had been absorbed into the Nazi totalitarian state. Alpinism, however, had a particular cultural status and mountaineers, willing to risk all for their sport and country, were seen as models for the new state. As a result, after the war Deutscher Alpenverein (the name dates back to 1938) was deemed a Nazi organisation by the Allies in 1945 and dissolved.

In the early 1950s, separate German (Deutscher Alpenverein) and Austrian (Oesterreichischer Alpenverien) Alpine Clubs were