The increasingly difficult path zigzagged behind Tristkogel. A grassy layer of questionable integrity offered handholds as well as toeholds as I was driven for an extended run. The whole way the summit itself was hidden. As difficult as the climb was, turning around would have been even trickier.
Breathtaking amazing views
Suddenly I was there. Emerging on a vertiginous rocky ridge, a short via ferrata from the wrought iron cross of Tristkogel. There, I was surprised to see four hikers occupying the entire summit. They seemed slightly indignant. I waited while my heart and breathing slowed and my legs regained their strength.
Throughout, the landscapes of the grassy mountains of the Pinzgau had rewarded every step. However, Tristkogel’s views have entered the realm of the amazing. On reflection, maybe I was just relieved to do it.
Very cautiously, I traded the top fixed line. None of the four hikers in the residence showed any signs of progress, so I walked past it and kept descending.
The path relaxed on the south-facing slopes of Tristkogel, with fixed lines and practical handrails in particularly steep sections.
Back on the flat, the sound of running water took me off the trail through rough terrain to a clear stream playing over bouncing stalks of watercress. I drank my fill and refilled my water bottle. Tremendous. Rehydrated, I felt strong and confident, so much so that I missed the Gamshag path and had to backtrack over a mile.
Once again on a not too distinct trail, more scrambling over hands and feet on loose ground led to two small tarns, one populated by finicky little fish. Beyond that, at the extreme limit of a 45-degree ascent, was Gamshag’s summit cross at 7,147 feet.
A rising chain of red and white beacons borders on the obvious.
The highest point
Gamshag marked the highest point of the Home of Lässig trail. The storm had not materialized, the clouds remained moored above the Hohe Tauern. After eight hours of absence, the last of the four Snickers bars had been eaten. A peak remained.
A natural descent followed the southern ridge line, rising to Teufelssprung at 7,133 feet before dropping rapidly into the valley. I was singing again. What if I didn’t know the words? What if my left knee was now supported by an elastic bandage? What if my GPS battery was flat?