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Hiking & Climbing

Ramolhaus – Awesome View of 3000-meter high Peaks

Hamburg’s highest house in the Alpine Mountains

Looks like a fata morgana! Sometimes it seems only a stone’s throw away, a minute later it is beyond reach. It’s playing a trick on my mind. Where mighty Ramolhaus towered like a promising high Alpine oasis high above the precipitous rock wall, now there is nothing but a steep ridge and rugged rocks: inhospitable – unreal.

Clinging on that steep rock face, the mountain refuge hut resembles an eyrie. It will be a long way up to the hut. Not extremely difficult but tiring. And full of Alpine hazards lying in wait for exhausted hikers. Just like me, a mountain fan from the North German flatlands. A huge black wall of clouds is moving forward quickly over the glacier fields while I am following this picture-book, moderately ascending ZW902 Central Alps Hiking Trail. The route crisscrosses Ötztaler Ache river and several other mountain brooks, meandering through flower-strewn Alpine pasturelands with grazing cows and sheep.

Ramolhaus im Vordergrund, Obergurgl im Hintergrund - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Always within sight, even from Ramolhaus: the village of Obergurgl
© Alexander Lohmann / Ötztal Tourismus

My heart is scared, my feet feel like lead

Four hours walking time – is written on the signpost that I saw behind Obergurgl. Probably it is meant for hikers not carrying a heavy rucksack.

To the right of the bridle path majestic rock walls lead up to dizzy heights, to the left the terrain drops precipitously towards a huge ravine down to Gurgler Ferner – the famous Glacier where Switzerland’s professor Auguste Piccard made an emergency landing in his stratosphere balloon on 28 May 1931. A historical fact that made the secluded mountain village famous overnight: Obergurgl, Tirol’s highest parish village, is in sight – even from Ramolhaus.

Rolling thunder is coming nearer and nearer. My heart is scared, my feet feel like lead on the long and winding path covering 7.5 kilometers and almost 1100 meters of altitude gain – from 1927 to 3006 m above sea level.

Scenic Ramolhaus is run by “Sektion Hamburg und Niederelbe e.V.” of the German Alpine Club (DAV). A strenuous climb that makes you sweat on the narrow footpath winding its way through the high Alpine landscape. There is no further climbing experience required but a very good physical shape to reach Hamburg’s highest house in the Alpine Mountains.

The hut tenant is a shining light

Die letzten steilen Meter bis zum Ramolhaus - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
The last few – very steep – meters up to Ramolhaus at 3006 meters altitude
© Dagmar Gehm

Right before the last steep ascent I meet the former hut tenant Alfred König – for me it feels like a shining light! He watched me from above and came to meet me. And what’s best, he also carries my heavy rucksack. In his opinion I should have taken advantage of the goods lift which was installed for food and (on request) also luggage transport in 2003. Up to 5 rucksacks cost 50 Euros. Now I can finish the last short part of the tour almost light-footed.

These are things of the past. Now Ramolhaus is run by Florian Mader and Sonja Prepstl. But the awe-inspiring views remained just the same: Ramolhaus towers on bare rocks in a fairly exposed location at 3006 m above sea level, it is DAV’s third highest Alpine refuge hut in the Ötztal Alps.

On the huge panoramic terrace with a flag showing the Tirolean Eagle, you enjoy picture-book views of the high Alpine scenery: Großer Ramolkogel (3550 m), Spiegelkogel (3426 m), Firmisanschneide (3491 m), Schalfkogel (3540 m) and the immense glacier snout of Gurgler Ferner.

Terrasse Ramolhaus - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Uninterrupted panoramic views of Gurgler Ferner from the terrace
© Dagmar Gehm
Martin Scheiber Denkmal in Obergurgl - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Martin-Scheiber statue in Obergurgl
© Dagmar Gehm

A listed building awarded with the environmental quality seal

Outsid, the wind beats over the scarce summer glacier fields, permanently decreasing in size during the warm months. It’s time to enjoy the warm and cozy wooden parlor. There is a shelf containing heaps of hut books, dating back to WW II.

In 1921, DAV’s Sektion Hamburg has purchased Ramolhaus as two other huts in the Ortler Massif became an Italian state property after WW I. The hut was erected by Martin Scheiber in 1881, great-grandfather of Lukas Scheiber who is the current renter of Ramolhaus and owner of Hotel Edelweiß & Gurgl in Obergurgl.

Each time Lukas Scheiber is heading for the mountains he walks past the bronze statue of his great-grandfather. “You cannot earn money with such a mountain refuge hut but our family has run Ramolhaus already for five generation,” he states.

Super-comfy beds in a rustic ambiance

In 1929, DAV Hamburg refurbished the mountain hut completely by adding 24 super-comfy beds and 38 dorm beds. Since 2006, after merging with “Sektion Niederelbe”, the number of “DAV Sektion Hamburg & Niederelbe” members has been permanently increasing. Today it is Germany’s fifth biggest Alpine Club with a total of 22,000 members.

Peter Färber, DAV mountain hut responsible from Hamburg, coordinates all refurbishment works at Ramolhaus. Often he also lends a hand together with other Alpine Club members.

Abendstimmung am Ramolhaus - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Sunset at fabulous Ramolhaus
© Bernd Ritschel / Ötztal Tourismus

“In 2005 we modernized the kitchen, sanitary facilities and fire prevention system by maintaining the hut’s rustic charm. Intentionally we didn’t install showers, water supply is a problem at 3000 meters altitude,” explains Katrin Ruppel, managing director of DAV Sektion Hamburg & Niederelbe, underlining the importance of environmental protection.

The diesel generator set was replaced by a rapeseed oil unit in 2015. Therefore Ramolhaus ranks among the highest Alpine refuge huts awarded with the environmental quality seal for huts run by the Alpine Club. And since 2017 it is even under monumental protection.

Essen Ramolhaus - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
Gourmet meal at 3000 meters above sea level
© Dagmar Gehm

Fine treats on half-way to heaven

When dinner is served everyone knows the all efforts are rewarded. Florian tells: “Ramolhaus is the only hut above 3000 meters taking part in a special culinary campaign initiated by DAV. Most products come from local farms and organic mountain farming within a maximum distance of 50 km.”

It takes a special type of person to run a mountain hut in such a secluded mountain area. Florian (23) from Ranggen in Tirol and his girlfriend Sonja (26) have taken up the challenge.

Sonja worked as a cook in Innsbruck’s renowned Restaurant Cammerlander on the Inn river shore. Now she spoils hikers with mouth-watering specialties on half-way to heaven.

Like the former host Alfred König, also the current hut tenants are famous for their excellent cooking. Ramolhaus not only offers splendid Alpine landscapes but also tongue-tickling shredded herb pancakes, spinach dumplings, peppers and cabbage soup, grey cheese soup or fine set menus accompanied by a glass of wine from Scheiber’s own vineyard in Burgenland. Crisp and clean mountain air already included!

Florian is a passionate Alpine hiker himself and provides his guests with heaps of useful tips and route recommendations: “We never feel alone, we have everything we need – and even more. In bad weather, when there are no hikers, our four-member hut team plays cards in a relaxed atmosphere.” Also their Appenzell mountain dog Baul (3), mascot and favorite of all hikers, feels at ease at such high altitudes. He attaches great importance on his name starting with “B”.

Unexcited mountain hikers conquer the Honeymoon Suite

Although the mountain hut is open only in summer, approximately from late June to mid-September, it happened that guests were snowed in for four days (in 2007). A helicopter rescued them on their fourth day. Fortunately there is a landing site next to Ramolhaus.

Among the biggest modern comforts rank a huge freezer and a radio in the kitchen. Nothing else. Just unexcited hikers immersed in mountain magazines and illustrated books. Some of them also play board games or the guitar.

Wanderer vor Ramolhaus - Ramolhaus Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
The first mountain hikers & alpinists set off already at sunrise
© Bernd Ritschel / Ötztal Tourismus

The “Stube” parlor furnished with homey larch wood and a tiled stove makes a great place for a nice get-together. Ramolhaus boasts the best panoramic view! Additionally, it has hot water and excellent meals are served. At 11.00 pm everyone is in bed because at 5.00 am in the morning the first hikers set off towards the nearby Alpine summits.

A young couple has booked the attic Honeymoon Suite. Other hikers disappear in the new chapel on the second floor, it also features an altar where the parish priest celebrates a holy mass once a year. A perfect spot to find one’s inner peace and make a short prayer after an exhausting climb.

Facts

  • Prices: Adults pay Euro 28 per night in a room and Euro 22 in the mattress dorm, DAV members receive a 10 Euro discount.
  • Special tip: If you want to take part in guided hikes to Ramolhaus or further on to Ramolkogl peak contact Alpincenter Obergurgl.

(Cover image: © DAV Sektion Hamburg)

Autorenbild Dagmar Gehm
© Zhengrong Liu

Guest Author Dagmar Gehm

The renowned journalist and sporty globetrotter from Hamburg has a great passion for the Ötztal and its manifold contrasts and activities:

  • Action – Isolation
  • Thrill of speed – Peace and relaxation
  • Ancient rituals – Trendy hot spots

More blogs by Dagmar Gehm:

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