The Memminger Hütte is at the crossroads of the Lechtaler Höhenweg and the E5 trail from Oberstdorf to Meran. This makes it a very lively place but also very crowded.
The Lechtaler Höhenweg is a 10-day hike that goes across the main ridge of the Lechtaler Alps and ends at Anhalter Hütte about 100 kilometers (62 miles) later. It starts at Stuttgarter Hütte, near Lech, but you can get on and off the trail in several places. It can easily be done in less days than 10 if you squeeze in some longer days.
Please see the Gohikealps Planning Guide for the Lechtaler Höhenweg for all the details you need to plan for this trip – including contact info to all the 13 mountain huts along the way as well as listings of the different route variants you can take.
I was doing an overly ambitious, cut-through version of the Lechtaler Höhenweg. I had hiked a very long way from St. Anton to Ansbacher Hütte the day before and my plan was to avoid staying at the Memminger Hütte because of the crowds.
I had tried to book a place several weeks beforehand, but the Memminger Hütte website already said they would no longer take reservations… It was clear at that point that it might be worth avoiding.
I wanted to stretch both my day and myself by hiking all the way to Württemberger Haus. First it would be 5 hours to Memminger Hütte, lunch there and then another 3½ hours to Württemberger Haus. It seemed tough but doable, especially in nice weather.
Boy, was I wrong! Once at Memminger Hütte it had (again) rained for hours and I was completely soaked, completely beat. I think 7 hours had passed versus my plan of 5 hours.
Heading out towards Memminger Hütte
What a wonderful morning it was! I’d been lucky to get a dormitory bed with nobody next to me at Ansbacher Hütte so I had a good night sleep under my belt. Despite feeling soar all over from the days before, felt energized. Even the sun was shining and everything was fantastic!
I left Ansbacher Hütte after a decent breakfast. It was busy in the morning, as mountain huts in the Alps tend to be, but not overly crowded. As a positive surprise to me, not very many people headed towards Memminger Hütte.
First off, I started walking back to where I came from for a while, until the path splits towards Winterjöchl. This is a nice, gentle ascent and in the warm morning sun it was just what I needed to get my blood flowing again.
From Winterjöchl it’s only a short ascent to Grießlscharte at 2632m (8635ft.) From there you can actually see Memminger Hütte, welcomingly on the other side of Parseier Valley.
Down to Parseier Valley
By this time, the nice morning sun had faded and there were heavy clouds instead. Where in the morning I was in a t-shirt, I had now already added another layer to keep warm, even though I was going up. And, I had checked my Gore-Tex layers were handy.
At Grießlscharte Memminger Hütte became visible for the first time. Between me and Memminger, however, was a descent of about a kilometer (3300ft.) and then an ascent of roughly 700 meters or 2200 feet. That’s some serious meters.
This kind of going down and up is, of course, demanding but normal, and normally not a big issue. For me on that day, though, it was a real test of endurance. The descent seemed endless, the ascent even more so.
Going down, the top part was partially snowed in and secured by cables. Combined, it meant slow going. Without my reliable hiking poles I would have been in trouble. The further down I got, the more it began to rain and the muddier and more slippery the trail got.
By the time I got to the valley, I was border lining on one of those feelings you sometimes get – is this really worth it?
Apparently there is a rucksack transport service that makes it possible to put your gear on the service lift that provides support to the Memminger Hütte. You would walk down the Parseier Valley to the lift that is at the Memminger Hut Car Park, load your stuff on the lift, and then walk up an easier trail to the cabin.
I had not thought about that option beforehand and didn’t have cell phone coverage so it wasn’t really an option. I took the “proper” route and started up on a demanding climb to Memminger Hütte, carrying my stuff on my back.
If you’re interested in the rucksack transport option, they will probably have info on the Memminger Hütte website. At the time of writing, however, the site is under construction so I don’t know for sure.
Up to Memminger!
I’ll just say it: It was even more painful to go up then it had been coming down. It rained half the way down but it rained all of the way up. The path was muddy, slippery and at times: steep. Again, I would have been in trouble without my hiking poles.
There was nothing in particular about the ascent that was overly difficult or different from what I had encountered before. I suppose it was just the combination of the bad weather, excessive mud and the overly long day before that did it. By the time I got to Memminger Hütte, I was just spent.
Obviously I was not happy about the situation but choices needed to be made. The main reason I wanted to stretch my day and go all the way to Württemberger Haus in the first place was to avoid spending the night at the very crowded Memminger Hütte. Remember? It’s at the crossroads of the E5 and apparently almost always full.
But it continued to rain, there was thunder in the air and the route to Wurttemberger Haus is the highest on the entire Lechtaler Höhenweg. I was very tired. After a reality check and a difficult debate with myself I decided it just wasn’t worth it.
At the Memminger Hütte
After the difficult decision I approached the very friendly folks at Memminger Hütte. It was full, as expected, and they only had “emergency beds” left. Those would be distributed in a sort of lottery system.
When I arrived, I entered my name into a list with maybe 20 other people who were there without a reservation. I was told to be there when the lottery began. There was time, so I enjoyed a couple of beers and met up with some people I had met the night before at Ansbacher Hütte. Small world.
At 6 PM sharp, the lottery began and beds were distributed. All beds had an ID card, which were put in a hat, and were then pulled out in order of your name being on the list. Like rabbits! The emergency bunks are very narrow and in very crowded dormitories. They are shelter, nevertheless, and much appreciated.
Just to be clear – I’m not sure If emergency bed is a correct translation of what these beds actually are. The mountain huts in the Alps can’t really leave anybody out in the cold, so maybe a real emergency bed is with the animals somewhere. Please comment if you have more detail on this! (Update: There’s some more info on this topic here!)
I was amazingly lucky and got a bunk next to a wall so I only had one person breathing down my neck on one side. The young fellow from Stuttgart wasn’t as lucky, since he had to spend his night listening to me snore!
Fun Evening, Sleepless Night
Once I got my accommodation settled, I spent the evening eating and chatting with the German gentlemen I had met the night before at Ansbacher Hütte. It was very, very crowded at the hut restaurant but they were amazingly efficient and everybody got fed, and the food was good.
After food, wine and being all comfortable with my German friends, at some point I talked about my experiences with friendly Canadians, rye and coke. Turned out a Canadian tour guide, from British Columbia was sitting almost next to me and I deservedly got the long stare… Awkward moment for me, good laughs for everyone else!
Shout out if you recognize me!
As in practically all mountain huts, the party ends at 10 PM. I found my bunk, but didn’t sleep well at all. It was just too tight. I woke up every 20 minutes. Had there been people on both sides I don’t think I would have slept at all.
Make a reservation early!
If you want to spend a night at Memminger Hütte I recommend making a reservation very early.
Here’s the contact details:
http://www.memminger-huette.at/, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: +43-563-420036
- Map. I used: Kompass Lechtaler Alpen Hornbachkette 1:50000
- Detailed contact info to all the huts and all relevant details on Lechtaler Höhenweg in the Gohikealps Lechtaler Höhenweg Planning Guide.
- Make sure you’re fit. This is a difficult route.
- Let people know they can’t necessarily reach you and you can’t reach them. I had no cell phone coverage here for almost 2 days…
- Make sure you’re equipped. Check what you need in the The Gohikealps Ultimate Packing Guide for the Alps.
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Continue here for my very, very long Day 3 on the Lechtalet Höhenweg!