Fascination Trail Run 1/3
Breathing sets the rhythm, limited by the heart frequency and waning muscle power. Staying focused is the driving force and the reward for all the effort the endless views. Sooner or later the flow becomes regulated, and one flies with almost no effort over the Alpine pastures, bouncing gracefully over the cushions of moss and over blocked passages, before accelerating onto the next part of the trail. We are talking about trail running. Hiking at a fast pace or running at a slower tempo? Let’s not dwell too much on conventional thinking: The definition “pure freedom in the lofty heights of Saalbach Hinterglemm” is the best description.
The montane topography of Saalbach will bring a smile to the faces of both connoisseurs and newbies to the world of trail running. Numerous trails lead up to the ridges of an even level, and routes are well signposted connecting the mountain landscape like a series of pearls. A series that motivates one to the highest level with one summit victory to another. Before we start the challenge, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Manuel, and for many years I was a professional cross-country skier and participated in World Cup races. The theme ´Trail Run”, or rather “mountain running with short cross-country poles”, is a theme close to my heart since the days of serious training sessions. I have since said cheerio to the competitive sport, but running in the mountains is something I still enjoy immensely and always puts a smile on my face. To experience the same euphoria, let me inform you of the coolest trail running routes in Saalbach. “My personal favourite”, naturally high above the Glemmtal.
The endurance Trail
A tour for runners with stamina who are surefooted with a desire to enjoy stunning views.
For me personally, as a passionate trail runner with an affinity to altitude metres, the following route is an absolute highlight. Due to the modernisation of the Zwölferkogel gondola in summer 2019, we will run the course slightly differently.
From Hinterglemm, we start from the Westgipfel valley station. Just behind the gold gondolas, there is a footpath leading up to the Gerstreit reservoir. This is a pleasant trail that can be seen as a warm-up. One who overdoes it on the short uphill passage will feel the “weight of the hammer” a few hours later. After passing the reservoir, follow the trail uphill towards the Bergstadl and then continue to the Hacklbergeralm by crossing the stream bed at the Westgipfel lift middle station before running for a short stretch downhill. Once back down in the valley, the most demanding ascent is awaiting dedicated lovers of fresh air. The trail takes you over the Stoffennieder upwards to the Stoffenwand, and the area known as the Sommertor on the main trail. Foremost on this section, is to remain beneath the Manlitzkogel and Rabenkopf. Naturally, the options are diverse, but from a runners point of view, the lower trail is agreeable and no less impressive.
The moment you reach the Sommertor is the time to jubilate and take in the impressive panoramic views of the Hohen Tauern. This is also an ideal time for a well-deserved break and to recharge the batteries. Interestingly, the path in this area is relatively broad, and one can enjoy playfully bounding ahead. Would you like to up the tempo? Up here, the terrain is undulating between the mountain peaks. After the Sommertor is the Bärensteigkopf standing at 2225 m and a couple of metres further, the Sonnberg. Once again, there is a lovely section for running before the picturesque trail meanders in the direction of the Medalkogel, offering a clear view of the Hochsaalbachkogel. Next stop, within the range of vision and as a result, deceptive. On such tours, one should always keep in mind the actual distance between the peaks, even when it seems “The summit is within your grasp”!
The Hochsaalbachkogel is the last big player on this tour and is challenging to reach and with an altitude of 2212 m is no lightweight. The descent from the Hochsaalbachkogel should be carried out cautiously, and it is not possible to run down this section due to the steepness. One has to remain patient and wait until the last kilometres before the cool speed trails to the Westgipfel.
After the Hochsaalbachkogel, it’s on to the Seetörl, ensuring that you stay below the Saalbach- und Stemmerkogel. The trail over this stretch is where you can pick up a good pace over the stones and use up the last power reserves and release those feel-good endorphins. The finale of this tour is the view of the Westgipfel and for the summer of 2019 a comfortable gondola back down to the valley. Purists will roll their eyes, but for the majority of us, the gentle ascent is appreciated. Cool!!!
Length: 23.3 km
Duration: ~ 5 hours
▲ 1870 m
▼ 825 m
Note: make sure to take plenty of water, water springs so far up are rare.
- Gerstreitteich (reservoir)