Our holiday base in the enchanted Villgraten Valley is the village of Innervillgraten, classified as a “mountaineering village”. By the way, a status awarded by the Austrian Alpine Association, which calls for the exemplary development of sustainable alpine tourism while preserving local cultural and natural values and relying on personal responsibility and ability as well as on environmentally friendly behavior of its guests. My Slow Alps guests meet all of this – because otherwise they wouldn’t be my guests 😉
We start at the head of the Villgraten Valley in the small hamlet of Kalkstein, which is also home to the neo-Gothic pilgrimage church Maria Schnee. According to oral tradition, the first church building is based on a plague vow, followed by the consecration of the curch in 1660.
A hiking taxi takes us to Kalkstein, because we want to cross the Marchkinkele summit. The descent through the Oberhofertal is not easy to find, but this lonely route leads us directly back to Innervillgraten to our hotel.
Our summit panorama tour first takes us through light larch forest to the Alfenalm. Beekeepers have set up their beehives here and harvest the first spring honey in June.
We continue along the Marchenbach until we reach the Gissertörl at 2,400 m just below the Gannekofel going a little steeper over a short rock step. From here we continue on a pronounced ridge to the summit of Marchkinkele. At 2,545m above sea level we stand on the border line between the Austrian East Tyrol and the Italian South Tyrol and enjoy a fantastic view of the Sesto Dolomites to the opposite south. From here you even have a clear view of the most famous rock formation in the Dolomites – the Three Peaks! In Italian: Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
If we have good time, it is worth taking a detour into the South Tyrolean terrain to the Strickberg, which at 2,553m is only 8 meters higher and can be reached without losing altitude. We’ll crack the 2,500 meter mark!
On the way back, things gets exciting at the Gissertörl when we take the unmarked entrance to the Oberhofertal. We are rewarded with the precise arrival in the village of Innervillgraten.
We have a full day of mountain hiking behind us, on which we will have been on the move for a total of at least 8 hours.