Time: 10.5h. Up: 1580m. Down: 1940m.
Distance: 21km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 16: Schröcken (1269m) to Buchboden (910m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

If you feel like a challenge, then today's hike is for you (and if you don't, that's ok, because there is a shorter but still honorable alternative). With two significant passes to cross, this is the toughest day on the H2H... at least in terms of hiking time and total altitude gained and lost. But since the two following stages down the charming Grosses Walsertal are short and easy, why conserve energy?

In case you are interested, the name "Walser" comes from the Valais (or Wallis) region in Switzerland and reflects the settlement of this area by a Germanic people from Valais in the 14th Century. The high valleys of the Alps used to be very thinly populated, but the Walser developed techniques of farming and animal husbandry that allowed them to survive in larger numbers where others could not. As a result they were invited by the rulers of several Alpine regions to come and settle in valleys that were particularly difficult to farm, of which this is one. In a way, therefore, the Walser are the less well-known Alpine equivalent of the Siebenbürger Sachsen in Romania, who were also invited to resettle (from Germany to Transylvania), although in their case it was more for their military prowess than their farming skills....

By the way, I'll be making observations such as the one above about the Walser more and more frequently in the stages to come. I find that I can only write about the beauty of this view, or the challenge of that mountain, a limited number of times before I get bored... an experience which I expect will be mirrored while hiking the H2H. Therefore if there is something interesting to note about the area of a stage (and there always is) then I'll try to let you know about it. After all, the more you know about where you are hiking, the more you'll enjoy the hike itself.

Head south from Schröcken along the Bregenzerach then climb to the Braunarlfürggele / Hochbergsattel (2145m). On the far side of the pass descend to the upper end of the valley road at the Alpschellaalpe (1400m) before climbing again to the second pass: Mutterwangjoch (2025m). From there it is all downhill to Buchboden.

Alternatives: if the weather is bad, or you are either too sensible or too tired for the challenge above, then you should follow the Via Alpina: go west from Schröcken via Unterboden (1158m), then climb up to the Biberacher Hütte just beyond the Schadonapaß (1846m), a good place for lunch, before descending via the Ischgarneialpe (1518m) to Buchboden (total for this route is 6h, 14km, +800m, -1150m). An intermediate alternative that will take about 8 hours is to do the first pass (Hochbergsattel) and then to descend via the Biberacher Hütte.
Map: K-32 Bludenz.

The House to House blog... stage 16.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic, unless you are taking the shorter route, in which case you can have lunch at the Biberacher Hütte.
Dinner and overnight: there are only a few places at which to stay in Buchboden, but if they are full you can walk another hour west to the village of Sonntag where there are several other options (for a list of the possibilities in both places, see here).

Getting There and Back
Schröcken: this is not an easy place to get to or back from. There are buses, but they are infrequent and take a couple of hours to get here from anywhere with a railway station (for bus and train schedule information, see the ÖBB).
Buchboden: walk a couple of kilometers down the road to Sonntag, from where you can catch one of the fairly infrequent buses to Nenzing, which has a railway station.
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Schröcken, centered on Buchboden.

Background Information and Links
Grosses Walsertal UNESCO biosphere park.

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