Mohnenfluh summit – sunrise in the Austrian Alps and one of the most difficult hikes in Lech Zürs

Me and my genius ideas. If you are here with me for a while, you know that I love all outdoor adventures. I’m great at finding new things that push me to the edges of my endurance and patience. And almost every time while doing them I ask myself: What the heck are you doing again? But then, when I succeed, this incredible sense of power and the energy stay with me for a long time, helping me with everything I do.

This repeated again, during my last trip to Lech Zürs region in Austria. I had a few hikes planned, but at the very last minute I changed my mind and decided to choose the most spectacular one. And as it’s often with such places, the more wonderful view you want to have, the more you have to deserve it and put more effort into reaching it.

That’s how I ended up conquering Mohnenfluh summit (2542 m above sea level) which is one of the most difficult in the region. To make it even more interesting, this peak is best for watching the sunrise, which means you have to climb there in total darkness.

Alarm clock at 3.00am and hike stronger than a coffee

The weather in Austria was quite unstable and rainy, but one day was about to be sunny and I adjusted all my plans to it, deciding to attack the summit. I wanted good visibility, because Mohnenfluh is famous for its 360-degree panorama of the whole region, but it is only visible in a really good weather. The decision to do this hike was made literally a few hours before the start. That night I slept only 2 hours with my alarm clock ruthlessly set at 3.00 am.

The starting point was Oberlech. We arrived there in total darkness. Despite the fact that we had headlamps, the moon was shining so strongly that it covered the area with a delicate glow. It has been a long time since I saw such an incredibly starry sky. The trail itself was fine until the last approach from Mohnenfluhsattel.

However, the challenge started on the last, the most difficult part. The trail became a real climbing, passing steeply over the gravel and in some parts becoming more of a climbing than a hiking, because we had to help ourselves with the hands to keep the balance. It was narrow, steep and it was very easy to fall down. In addition we climb in a total darkness, so we saw only the tips of our shoes and a few meters forward. My climbing companions were probably delighted that I persuaded them to do it. Everyone was very focused, so the only thing we could hear were our shorts breaths and sounds of surviving. It took about 30 minutes to complete this part, but I had the impression that time stopped. It was only later that I realized what route we took, literally on the very edge.

When night becomes a day

We were the only ones that reached the summit that early. We managed to get there in a good time, about 20 minutes before the sunrise, when the so-called blue hour was just beginning and the peaks were illuminated in blue. Interestingly, there was no wind and there was complete silence, which intensified the impression of being on top of the world.

The light changed from minute to minute and the darkness began to give way to colors, but this time it was not the intense orange-pink sunrise I was hoping to see. Nevertheless, the 360-degree panorama of the surrounding Alps was spectacular.

I stayed at the summit for the longest time, because I had a feeling that only after the sunrise I would catch the light for the pictures and the scenery I was hunting for. And I was right! Only when the sun came up, the peaks were saturated with green and brown colors, creating a perfect mountain mosaic. For those few minutes it was worth taking the challenge, not to sleep, and then to stumble in the dark over every stone. Each time I have the same conclusion: don’t wait with life, don’t wait with places to see. Discover, conquer, and fight for them, when you get the chance and when you are here and now. That morning was moving because it made me realize how difficult the current travel situation in the world is, how much we loose as people, and how much I miss the freedom, space and strength that traveling gives me. I’m glad that I could feel those emotions and adrenaline that push me around the world to the places like this.

Mohnenfluh hike – technical information
  • The lowest point and at the same time the beginning and end of the trail: Oberlech, 1740 m above sea level. (5709 feet)
  • Highest point: Mohnenfluh, 2544 m above sea level. (8346 feet)
  • Overstatements: 804 m (2637 ft)
  • Distance: about 6 km (3.73 miles)

Trail: start in Oberlech. Follow the trail westwards to the Kriegeralpe Pass (2000 m, here is a restaurant), then turn right after the signs to Mohnenfluh on a wide trail leading up the slope to 2300 m, then follow the narrow trail horizontally crossing the eastern slope of the Zuger Hochlicht to Mohnensattel col (2311 m). Butzensee Lake (2124 m) and Braunarlspitze (2649 m) Butzensee Lake and Braunarlspitze. From here, the peak trail to Mohnensattel (21211 m) leads first with easy serpents up the flank and then through a more rocky section.

  • It is definitely a place worth getting there at sunrise, so I would make the effort.
  • To experience it fully, it is necessary to reach the summit at least 20 minutes before the sunrise. The light changes quick and even being a few minutes late will destroy the whole effect.
  • Be aware of your own possibilities. This is definitely not a hike for everyone and it requires very good condition, fitness level above all, healthy knees, because they will feel this trip a lot.
  • If you don’t know this area and you are afraid that it will be difficult to hit it in the dark,  I would recommend you to hire the mountain guide from Lech Zürs am Arlberg.
  • Be sure to check the weather a few hours before starting – without stable weather conditions, the sunrise is not the same or visibility may be zero. It is too difficult and too demanding trail to do it for nothing.
  • Be sure to take a loaded headlamp. Without it there is no option to do this hike.

 

 

*** I visited Austria at the invitation of the Post Lech Tourism Board and the Post Lech Hotel, who supported me in all my crazy travel ideas and partnered this trip.

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