By: Matt Setlack

Date:  10 - 13 Sep 2012 and 02 - 03 Sep 2013

Distance:  approximately 100km

Terrain:  mixed, some ladders, fixed ropes, small portions with exposure

Elevation:  8000m difference in altitude (this is from one of the guide books and I believe they calculated it by the total number of meters that you go up AND the total number of meters you go down)

Suggested Time:  4-5 days if you are experienced and in decent shape

Em and I did the Stubai Hohenweg (Stubai High Trail) for the first time in September 2012 but were unsuccessful in finishing the complete loop as we had very poor weather (snow) at the end. In September 2013, we returned and ran the complete loop in two days. Both times we started in Neustift, which is approximately 30 minutes SW of Innsbruck, Austria. 

Stubai Hohenweg Map of Route

2012 Stubai Hohenweg

From 10 - 13 Sep 2012, Em and I flew to the Austrian Alps and had one of the best running vacations of our lives. The Austrians are a clever bunch, they have an absolutely amazing network of trails with mountain huts perched in remote and beautiful breathtaking locations...on top of mountains!  Hear, water rushing rapidly; Smell, cool crisp air that makes asthmatics airways open up and the fresh smell of dumplings in the most amazing soup imaginable and taste a well deserved pint of beer after a very long hard day of pounding the skyline trails of the Austrian Alps. At the time, we were living in the United Kingdom so flights to get to Austria were super cheap and there was only an hour of time change. For the 2012 Stubai Hohenweg, Em and I ran the route in the counter-clockwise direction. 

The snacks that we brought. The Edelweiss was for after we completed the loop. The mountain huts had food and beer.

The snacks that we brought. The Edelweiss was for after we completed the loop. The mountain huts had food and beer.

Day 1 - Mon 10 Sep 2012

  • Neder - Starkenburger Hut:  1:40
  • Starkenburger Hut - Franz Senn Hut:  3:15
  • Day 1 Total Time:  4:55

Notes on Day 1:  Excellent path. A continual and gradual incline from Neder to Starkenburger but from Starkenburger Hut I remember it being a bit undulating and you are quite high up. You can make very good time on this leg of the journey. We left Neder in the early afternoon and arrived at Franz Senn Hut before dinner, with plenty of sunlight left. We considered pushing on to Neue Regensburger Hut but didn't. In retrospect, we should have pushed on; this decision to not push on, I believe, cost us the complete Stubai Hohenweg loop.

Ascending out of Neustift on our way to Starkenburger Hut

Ascending out of Neustift on our way to Starkenburger Hut

Franz Senn Hut is a massive hut and I personally would not stay there again, if I could help it. There is nothing wrong with it but lacks the cozy personal touch of some of the smaller huts like Neue Regensburger Hut and Sulzenau Hut. To us, it felt like a small hotel/hostel. It cost us 17 euro total for a mattress bed, 9 euro for hot water, 1 beer, and 1 soda water, and 4 euro for 1 additional beer.

Day 2 - Tues 11 Sep 2012

  • Franz Senn Hut - Neue Regensburger Hut:  2:45
  • Neue Regensburger Hut - Dresdner Hut:  4:30
  • Dresdner Hut - Sulzenau Hut:  1:45
  • Day 2 Total Time:  9:00
The boot drying room inside Dresdner Hut, I believe.

The boot drying room inside Dresdner Hut, I believe.

Notes on Day 2:  The first bit from Franz Senn Hut to Neue Regensburger Hut was noticeably uphill and I believe it was one of the least easy portions of the entire journey. The guidebook stated that this portion was supposed to be easy, which was completely incorrect. We were very impressed with the Sulzenau Hut and its owners. We slept on a big mattress in the attic and there were very few people there when we stayed especially since it was so late in the season. We paid 2 euro for two showers, 22 euro for the mountain dinner and two beer, 17 euro total for both of us for one night in the hut, and 58 euro total for an Austrian Alpine Club membership for each of us (it was half price since it was so late in the season...check the fine print).

Day 3 - Wed 12 Sep 2012

  • Sulzenau Hut - Nurnberger Hut:  1:30
  • Nurnberger Hut - Bremer Hut:  2:30
  • Day 3 Total Time:  4:00

Notes on Day 3:  The first segment from Sulzenau Hut to Nurnberger Hut was a little foggy but excellent. The conditions deteriorated rapidly as soon as we passed Nurnberger Hut. It was raining at first at the lower elevations, which soaked us and then as we climbed up higher, the temperature dropped and the rain turned to hail and snow. We were at the lowest point mentally as we passed an old Police Customs locked cabin on the top of a hill just before Bremer Hut. I believe this was one of the last days that Bremer Hut was open for the summer season. It snowed a lot and was quite cold. We had to move as fast as possible to keep warm but not too fast so that we slipped on some of the more unstable ground. Holding onto steel cables in near freezing local temperatures is not fun...I would consider bringing goretex overmitts or at least a vapour barrier of sorts for over the hands in the future.

We arrived at Sulzenau Hut before lunch around 11:30. The folks who owned/worked at the hut were very hospitable and kind. While we were there we ate dumpling soup (amazing!), which cost 6.50 euro per bowl, 1 coffee cost 3 euro, each beer was 3.70 euro for 500 mL...we ate a lot of dumpling soup after our subzero run that morning. When we arrived at Bremer Hut, we were quite cold and wet so we hung our clothes in a warm furnace room for them to dry. We wanted to go on but the conditions continued to get worse and we didn't think we had enough time to get to Innsbrucker Hut before nightfall. We had the entire hut to ourselves and played Monopoly (German version) while drinking Austrian beer and eating dumpling soup the entire afternoon.

Day 4 - Wed 13 Sep 2012

  • Bremer Hut - Trins:  ?
  • Bus from Trins - Neder

Notes on Day 4:  Our plan was to go Bremer/Innsbrucker/Neder to finish the loop but due to the path being covered in snow and our very limited ultralight running gear (and the fact that we could not see the trail), we thought it would be wise to go to lower ground in the adjacent valley...we will be back to finish it though :) Big shoutout to Duncan and his partner for guiding us down the mountain. One of the things that allowed Em and I to travel the speed/distance that we did was the fact that we were carried only one small bag each. Em's bag weighed 5 - 10 lbs and my bag was 10 - 15 lbs fully loaded. I would highly highly recommend NOT bringing too much gear if you want to do it light and somewhat fast like we did. I thoroughly believe that bringing less lets you enjoy the mountains more and cover more ground with less effort.

2013 Stubaier Hohenweg

Em and I returned to the Austrian Alps in September 2013 to repeat (and hopefully finish) the Stubai Hohenweg. This time we were a little more aggressive with the daily distance knowing that if the weather turned, then we might be forced to retreat like we did last year. We did not want this to happen so we pushed pretty hard. Weather conditions were ideal. We stayed at Dresdner Hut for one night and finished the

Emily dividing up the sports drink the day before we left.

Emily dividing up the sports drink the day before we left.

Day 1 - MON 02 Sep 2013

  • Neustift (Hotel) - Innsbrucker Hut:  2:15
  • Innsbrucker Hut - Bremer Hut:  3:30
  • Bremer Hut - Nurnberger Hut:  2:20
  • Nurnberger Hut - Sulzenau Hut:  1:50
  • Sulzenau Hut - Dresdner Hut:  2:00
  • Day 1 Total: 11:55
1st Mountain Hut we came across (Innsbrucker Hut) on Day 1 of 2013 Stubaier Hohenweg

1st Mountain Hut we came across (Innsbrucker Hut) on Day 1 of 2013 Stubaier Hohenweg

Notes on Day 1:  Em and I left Neustift at 7:10 am and ran up a gravel road almost until Innsbrucker Hut (taxi route). There was a low cloud/mist in the air (see photos below). Innsbrucker Hut looked like an amazing hut to stay at. We almost went the wrong way and ran 300m in the wrong direction before realizing it. It was a very easy route between Innsbrucker Hut and Bremer Hut.

Matt on Day 1 of 2013 Stubaier Hohenweg

Matt on Day 1 of 2013 Stubaier Hohenweg

Helicopter outside Bremer Hut.

Helicopter outside Bremer Hut.

Bremer Hut to Nurnberger Hut was quite good; definitely better than last year with respect to perfect weather. This year was slower than last year but we were carrying extra weight this year. Good run up to Sulzenau Hut. We were mentally quite low at Sulzenau Hut and it was getting quite dark as well. Once we got to the pass with rock statues/cairns, it was dark. We had to use our torches to get down to Dresdner Hut. For dinner we had spaghetti at Dresdner Hut and went to bed at 10:30-11:00 pm. I don't think the heat was on as it was quite cool in the room.

Day 2 - TUES 03 Sep 2013

  • Dresdner Hut - Neue Regensburger Hut:  3:50
  • Neue Regensburger Hut - Franz Senn Hut: 2:50
  • Franz Senn Hut - Starkenburger Hut:  4:10
  • Starkenburger Hut - Neustift (Hotel):  2:30
  • Day 2 Total:  13:20
Inside our Dresdner Hut room where we spent one night.

Inside our Dresdner Hut room where we spent one night.

Notes on Day 2:  We slept in until 6:00 am at the Dresdner Hut and left at 7:50 am after a little breakfast. It took way too long for breakfast. The segment between Dresdner Hut and Neue Regensburger Hut was a very good running trail. Just before Neue Regensburger Hut, we came across A LOT of people on the trail which slowed us down a lot in the steeper portion. When we got to Regensburger Hut, we had a snack (wafers, water, bread) and kept going. It was very steep to get over the pass on the way to Franz Senn Hut.

Matt running in between Dresdner Hut and Neue Regensburger Hut.

Matt running in between Dresdner Hut and Neue Regensburger Hut.

Our least favourite section of the trail was between Neue Regensburger Hut and Franz Senn Hut. There were a lot of boulder fields and it was very slow going. We were at quite a lot point mentally about an hour before Starkenburger Hut. We ran down to Neustift using a gravel road and it took twice as long as expected. It was dark when we arrived at the hotel in Neustift. We thought it might be too late to check in so we ran the last 5km or so using a torch as we ran. Thankfully, we made it back in one piece.

The least runnable portion of the Stubai Hohenweg.

The least runnable portion of the Stubai Hohenweg.

Overall Thoughts on 2013 Stubai Hohenweg

It was demanding both physically and mentally. Probably one of the most physically and mentally demanding things we have done so far. You really have to be smart about the timing of your eating and drinking. The scenery was beautiful. The trails and infrastructure were amazing.

We took a photo at each mountain hut that we passed along the way. Stubaier Hohenweg | 02 - 03 Sep 2013 | Tyrol, Austria.

Lessons Learned

Note: this represents an athlete's point of view and not the general majority of the people who do this trip.

  1. Planning is very important. Drink lots of water and eat many powerbars. Take lunch breaks at the huts and take advantage of good weather.
  2. Pack Light!
  3. Look at the weather forecast and wait for good weather, if possible.
  4. Bring a Goretex coat or at least a rain jacket. Garbage bags don't last very long in Gail force winds.
  5. Hiking boots are not essential. You could easily do it in Salomon Speedcross trail running shoes.
  6. Make notes on each segment before you do it (i.e. number of mountain passes, distance, elevation change, etc.).
  7. Start early in the morning (even before sunrise)!
Passing a glacier on the way to Dresdner Hut

Passing a glacier on the way to Dresdner Hut

Recommended references:

The best advice I could give someone regarding books/maps/etc would be to maybe buy one good waterproof map before going so you have an idea of the lay of the land and then as soon as you arrive, go to a Tourist Information Center and get more maps for free. Usually the people who work there will also be able to tell you what the conditions are like on the trail. I bought too many books and it ended up weighing more than I would like to admit. Of course, I physically cut out only the sections that I would need to save A LOT of weight. Be careful when cutting maps that you don't cut too much away since you might just need those sections in case of an unforeseen event (i.e. snow storm).

Any areas that might have been sketch had cables to hold onto.

Any areas that might have been sketch had cables to hold onto.

What to Bring:

Pack light, you will be thankful. Besides, what do you need when you are staying in a hut with meals provided!?

  • Gortex Paclite Jacket, pants
  • tights, shorts
  • ultralight down jacket
  • sturdy shoes, we wore the Salomon Speedcross 3′s   Hiking boots are a luxury but not a necessity, they’re pretty heavy to lug around if you’re travelling light.
  • 3-5 pairs of socks, tough it out and bring less- you’ll survive with stinky feet for a few days
  • mittens, hat
  • 2 coolmax shirts
  • one long sleeve
  • sleeping liner, if you can’t find one in the store, you can make your own out of a standard bedsheet
  • don’t bring a towel, you can use a drifit shirt to dry off….that is if you’re lucky enough to get a shower
  • pillow- use a drybag and put your down jacket in it, makes a great pillow!

Again, whatever you do- do not over pack, we saw so many people with ENORMOUS packs and it really isn't needed. Em used a small Salomon running pack and it was perfect.

September 01, 2013-8275.JPG


Staying in the huts in a steal, the accommodations are very reasonable and will cost you as a little as 15 Euro’s per person, per night.  You’re best to buy a-la-carte and I would recommend calling ahead of time, we made the mistake of just “showing up” and after 16km of hiking up a MOUNTAIN discovered both huts were Closed for the season (early September) even though the hut guide said they were open until the end of September.


The trip in 2012 was done in the counter-clockwise direction while the trip in 2013 was done in the clockwise direction. The 2013 trip, including sleeping time, took a total of 37 hours and 40 minutes. We left our hotel in Neustift at 7:10 am on Mon 02 Sep 2013 and returned to the hotel at 8:50 pm on Tues 03 Sep 2013. The superscript "1", "2" and "3" in the table below indicate the huts where we spent the night in 2012 (1st night, 2nd night and 3rd night, respectively).

Summary of Matt and Emily's Stubai Hohenweg Times
Day 1 Ascent (m) Descent (m) 2012 2013
Neustift (Hotel) - Innsbrucker Hut 1376 0 N/A 2:15
Innsbrucker Hut - Bremer Hut3 800 850 N/A 3:30
Bremer Hut3 - Nurnberger Hut 600 450 2:30 2:20
Nurnberger Hut - Sulzenau Hut2 650 550 1:30 1:50
Sulzenau Hut2 - Dresdner Hut 400 500 1:45 2:00
Day 1 Total 3826 2350 5:45 + ? 11:55
Day 2 Ascent (m) Descent (m) 2012 2013
Dresdner Hut - Neue Regensburger Hut 900 850 4:30 3:50
Neue Regensburger Hut - Franz Senn Hut1 650 500 2:45 2:50
Franz Senn Hut1 - Starkenburger Hut 440 530 3:15 4:10
Starkenburger Hut - Neustift 0 1244 1:40 2:30
Day 2 Total 1990 3124 12:10 13:20
Grand Total (Day 1 + Day 2) 5816 5474 17:55 + ? 25:15

If you have any questions or would like more information, please let me know.

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome and dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." - Edward Abbey