G3VGR Hiking in Montafon      

This area of the Vorarlberg isn't too well known to British Summer visitors. The Montafon valley is enclosed by 3 alpine ranges: the Rätikon, Silvretta and Verwall groups. These ranges provide many hiking trails, catering for all levels of experience, so if daunted by the signs that read "Trittsicherheit und Schwindelfreiheit erforderlich", it's always possible to find an easier trail to hike. My first visit to the Montafon Valley was in June 2004, prior to attending the Hamradio rally at Friedrichshafen. I took a tent and camped at Schruns, the main village of the valley. Since my first visit, I've returned to the area 5 more times to camp and hike, most recently in 2012, as this area contains everything one requires make an enjoyable holiday. On subsequent visits, I've camped near Bludenz, the home of the Fohrenburger Brewery and Milka chocolate factory. Bludenz is well situated at the meeting point of 5 different valleys: the Montafon, Klostertal, Brandnertal, Walgau and Groß Walsertal. Each of these valleys is unique and all are served by excellent public transport links. The Montafon has a few smaller side valleys, all reachable by bus services from Schruns, the central town of the Montafon.   I always purchase the Montafon-Silvretta (now Monafon-Brandnertal) card, which not only provides free travel on buses and trains and free use of all cablecars and chairlifts in the Montafon, but also in other valleys in the area. The card originally included some of the Tirol, but no longer, alas.

My visits have been made either in late June or the beginning of September. Both times have their advantages. In June, many alpine flowers are in bloom and there is plenty of snow above 2100 metres, so an ice axe is an obligatory accessory. I've found the weather at this time to be rather unsettled, with many rainy and cold days. The locals recommended late August and September. This was good advice as I've enjoyed a succession of warm sunny days at that time. Also, the higher mountain huts are open and accessible as the snows have long gone. I made travel arrangements for another visit in 2016, but had to cancel them due to ill health. After a heart valve replacement in March 2017, I returned to the Montafon in July 2017 for my seventh visit. This time, I stayed at the excellent Haus Marent in Schruns instead of camping. It was certainly nice to be back in the Montafon after a 5 year gap since the previous visit. This was probably my final trip because I had by now walked most of the trails that I was able to manage. At 70 years old I noticed I wasn't as fit and strong anymore despite the heart surgery giving me a new lease of life.

There are many excellent and varied walks in the area and by using the Montafon-Silvretta card, one can sample the delights of the different valleys. I normally make day hikes from my campsite, but have occasionally stayed overnight in some of the mountain huts, which is a great experience. Usually, my walks are planned so that I can take lunch at one of the mountain huts or preferably an "Alpe" which is a small alpine dairy. Many Alpen in Montafon produce "Sura Kees", a local speciality cheese and is delicious when accompanied by fresh milk from the dairy. The Alpen close down for the Winter around the second week in September, when the cows are moved down from the high pastures.

To plan walks, I would recommend the following publications:
  1. Kompass Map 032 - Alpenpark Montafon
  2. Kompass Digital Map - Bludenz-Schruns-Klostertal
  3. Kompass Wanderführer - Montafon
  4. Rother Wanderführer - Montafon
  5. Rother Wanderführer - Brandnertal
Of course, the local tourist offices will also mail plenty of useful publications to help and the railway stations at Schruns and Bludenz provide combined bus and train timetables, which simplifies navigation around the area. The Montafon Tourist Office also sponsors a hiking award scheme, awarding "Montafoner Wanderschuh" badges for completion of walks to various huts. The Silver and Gold badges require some effort to attain as all the high altitude huts need to be visited. I earned the gold badge in 2012 after completing an overnight hike to the Mannheimer Hütte, which also included a traverse of the Brand Glacier and an ascent of the Schesaplana, at 2964m the highest mountain in the Rätikon.

 
Some of my favourite hikes:
Toblersee and Montafoner Tal

Wiesbadener Hütte

In front of the Ochsentaler Glacier

View to Drei Türme from the fearsome Bilkengrat

View to Switzerland through Schweitzertor

View to Zimba from the Lünerkrinne

Executive meeting in Zaluandatal - Zimba behind

Old Customs House along Rätikon Höhenweg

Totalp Hütte

Enjoying a Fohrenburger beer at the Lindauer Hütte

The Alvierbach in Brandnertal

View of the Drei Türme from Latschätzer Hohenweg

Descent to Lünersee from Totalp Hütte

River Litz in Silbertal

View towards Rätikon with cloud cover over Silbertal

Lünersee, Douglashütte and Seekopf

View down the Ochsental towards Silvretta-Stausee

Grazing the sweet grass in front of Zimba

Kochscher Enzian (Gentiana acaulis)

Gold-Pippau (Crepis Aurea) in June

Formarinsee in Klostertal

Silbertal, a very pretty village

Vermunt, HochMaderer and Madlener House from Bielerhöhe

Wiegensee above Partenen

Garneratal from Tübinger Hütte

Fine view of the Silvretta from Wiegensee

Nenzigasttal, a side valley of the Klostertal

The Latschätzer Hohenweg towards the Lindauer Hütte

Cloud cover over Klostertal

Litzner Glacier near Saarbrückner Hütte

Schruns, Tschagguns, Monterfonertal and the Rätikon

View down Kromertal towards Vermunt Stausee

Through the Bürserschlucht, Brandnertal

Nenzinger Himmel in the beautiful Gamperdonatal

Silvretta peaks and Garneratal

Schesaplana and Brand Glacier

Spullersee in Lechquellengebirge

Along the Schmugglerpfad near Gargellen

On Madrisella summit - 2466m

On Schesaplana summit - 2964m

Gold class Hiking badges

Fohrenburger beer, brewed in Bludenz

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