Life under the Summit Cross: 125 Year Jubilee Passauer Hut
The Passauer Hut at 2,051 metres is the only hut base in the Leoganger Steinberge. Above the Mittagsscharte, between Birnhorn and Fahnenköpfel, it clings to the rock and has been a popular destination for alpinists and hikers since 1892. Michael Faber from St. Martin in the Salzburger Saalachtal has been hut warden since 2011 and tells us about his everyday life in the hut; the challenges of a life below the summit cross and his moments of happiness high up between Weißbach, Saalfelden and Leogang.
A colourful mixed team
The team around Michi Faber is hand-picked and you notice that the warden has taken his people to heart when the volunteer mountain rescuer tells us, “Our cook, who provides traditional fare at the Passauer Hut, is a history student from Vienna. Nobody can make a hand-drawn apple strudel as well as him. My all-rounder from Frankfurt actually studies geology and my new partner Gisela, also a registrar, helps us out in the kitchen at the weekends. This year I also have Babu in the team as a carrier. He comes from Nepal and was also a hut warden as owner of a lodge. He lost everything in an earthquake in the Langtang region and with the money he earns here, he wants to rebuild his lodge. And then there are also five chickens – three came in the helicopter with the basic supplies, two on the rucksack frame - and two cats.“
Rucksack taxi & onset of winter
The Passauer hut needs a carrier even though basic supplies are delivered by helicopter at the beginning of the season and a further twice before the season end. Despite this Michi and Babu have to go down to the valley at least once every ten days to buy bread, dairy produce and fresh goods. Generally the pair set out in the rain and on the way back carry up to 25 kilograms on their backs. “Wet weather is very welcome now and again. It means we can relax a little. Otherwise the day always begins at 5.30 am with the preparation of breakfast and meals. Lights out for the guests is at 10.30 pm and then there is a relaxed end of work beer for us. This is traditional and is one of the nicest moments – to know that the day has gone well, everyone has arrived here safely and is asleep in bed. If Gisela and I want to go for a walk up to the Hochzint we have to do it at the crack of dawn so that we are back at the hut punctually at 5.30. I love these moments when the sun rises over the Watzmann and the hut lies below me, dark and silent.“
Even though hut life is fantastic and the view to the valley is magnificent there are also things that the hut warden misses after a while. “Up here on the mountain I miss the scent of hay in the summer, cow bells or the lush green of the alpine pastures. I notice that first when I return to the valley and I am blinded by the colours. Also privacy comes up too short after a while because we live here in a confined space especially if we are snowed in at the hut. We use this enforced break for pre-cooking and resting. Sometimes there are hut tantrums so we go out and build a snowman, bake Christmas biscuits, brew Glühwein and knit hats. So often the worst days turn into the best days.“
Many funny stories have played out in the Passauer Hut over the last 125 years and during the time of Michi Faber's lease a lot has happened too. As a good warden, Michi Faber doesn't gossip but we do manage to prise one story out of him – about Lorenz the high-ranking clergyman and lights out. The hut warden can't remember whether the dignitary was a bishop or not, but as far as he was concerned he was just Lorenz. On one lively hut evening the cleric got out the guitar and played with abandonment. At one point the warden warned him, “Hey Lorenz, that's the end now, the other guests are already asleep.“ In answer the cleric replied, “Michi, let me play one more song because who knows the next time I will be so close to God.“ Those who would like to hear more anecdotes should go up to the Passauer Hut themselves. There are several possible ascents. Those who would rather take a more relaxed route can choose to travel part of the way with the Almwandertaxi from Weißbach. After that, the hut can be reached in around two hours via ascents on forest paths and alpine meadows. The trickiest and the shortest ascent begins in Leogang. For this three hour hike you need to have a head for heights and surefootedness. The Passauer Hut can also be reached from Saalfelden and the Lettlkaser in around four to five hours via a steep climb.
Tip: It is worth taking a detour from the Passauer hut to the mythical Melkerloch! At this natural rock arch below the Birnhorn and west of Hochzint, you will be rewarded by an impressive view through the stone window. According to legend, the devil threw a cocky milker, who bathed himself in good milk, through these holes. The ascent from the hut is well-signposted and takes about 30 minutes to the Melkerloch, via the Zintschartl.
Clicking on the button you will get directly to the tour to the Passauer Hut