Hiking in Corona times: hotspot hut?

During the corona pandemic, special rules also apply when stopping at the mountain. What do they look like and are they adhered to? We talked about this with the German Alpine Club DAV

Many people stayed in Germany this summer because of the corona pandemic and discovered their love for the mountains. On the managed huts on popular routes in the Alps, the rush was sometimes immense, so that there was already talk of overtourism.

The hut season is now entering its final round: Most inns close at the end of October at the latest. If you want to experience the romance of the mountain huts, you have to reserve a place for the night in good time. Andi Dick from the German Alpine Association knows what rules apply on the mountain during Corona times. The 55-year-old is editor of the members' magazine there DAV panorama, Mountain guide, leads training courses on all aspects of mountain sports - and is a passionate alpinist.

Many DAV huts offer overnight accommodation. Have you stayed in a cabin lately?

I recently went to the Blaueishütte for three days. It belongs to the Berchtesgaden section and is located below the Blaueis glacier on the Hochkalter-Stock.

How did you experience the situation there?

The hut wasn't overcrowded. Besides us there were around 15 other guests. Everyone obeyed the rules. Depending on the table size, up to six members of a group were allowed to sit together, the four-bed rooms were only occupied by two people each. There were limited usage times for the washrooms.

What are the corona rules for huts in general?

Basically, the Alpine Club has coordinated the routes with the local authorities (see info box below). These include, for example, the one-way street solutions for dining rooms that direct the flow of people in one direction in order to enforce the distance rules. In addition, there are limits to the number of occupancies.

But each hut also has its own concept. After all, it depends on the premises what is possible and what is not. The smaller huts, which can offer rooms and not camps, have advantages. The larger the bedrooms, the worse the occupancy is currently. An advantage for day-to-day operations: when a hut has a large terrace and it is not a problem to keep enough distance during the snack.

What do guests have to think about when they want to stay the night?

Nothing works without registration! Guests who have not reserved can expect to be turned away. You can register via the DAV (see below) or directly at the respective hut.

If you book, you should definitely have this confirmed so that there is no misunderstanding on arrival. Of course you need a mask for a visit to the inn or when you move around the hut. Before visiting the hut, you can inquire about the rules by phone.

Guests must bear this in mind when staying overnight in Alpine Club huts

  • Reserve a room: There is an unrestricted reservation requirement. Without prior registration there is no place to sleep.
  • Have your reservation confirmed: The overnight capacities in the huts are significantly limited. It is possible that reservations that were confirmed by the hut some time ago can no longer be maintained.
  • Pack a rucksack: In addition to mouth and nose protection, depending on the hut, guests also have to bring their own warming sleeping bag (not a hut sleeping bag) as well as their own pillowcase and sheet.
  • Pay attention to the processes: Every alpine accommodation has different structural requirements and has to implement the requirements of the authorities differently. What they all have in common is that guests are received at the hut and informed about the routes, schedules and precautionary measures.
  • Keep your distance: A maximum of two houses may spend the night in a room - regardless of whether it is a warehouse or a room. Predefined times apply to the use of the public washrooms.

Is it true that guests have to bring their own bed linen?

A separate, thin hut sleeping bag was already standard. Because of the hygiene rules, no blankets are kept ready. Therefore you need a warm sleeping bag. At night it is already getting quite cool in the mountains. In order to ensure good ventilation, it makes sense, especially when staying overnight in the camp, to open the windows anyway. You are then happy to have a sleeping bag that keeps you warm. You should also bring your own sheet and pillowcase.

Some alpine herders reported this summer of numerous wild campers that caused trouble. Is camping in nature even allowed?

No. Only the so-called emergency bivouac is allowed. If you come into the dark or get injured, hikers are allowed to spend the night on the mountain. This argument becomes unbelievable when campers set up their tents very well equipped in close proximity to the valley and perhaps also have a grill and beer with them. It is particularly annoying when wild animals, grazing cattle and residents are disturbed, when people leave their rubbish lying around and do not bury their necessities.

As it stands, the pandemic will be with us for a while. Do you have a tip on how to avoid the crowds?

My advice: leave the beaten path! To do this, you need a good map that you have to be able to read - for example to avoid wildlife sanctuaries. I would avoid all targets that are hyped in the tabloid press, on relevant websites and social media. That should always be a warning sign of big hustle and bustle.

Rules for stopping at a hut

In principle, the same rules apply to huts in the Bavarian Alps as when visiting restaurants in the valley. The most important:

  • In Bavaria, there is a minimum distance of 1.5 meters to other guests in restaurants.
  • Mouth and nose protection is mandatory everywhere, and protection must be worn even on the terrace. The only exception: at the table.
  • Leave contact details
  • Stay calm and adjust to waiting times

If you have the opportunity, you should plan your trip to the mountains during the week, not on the weekend: the huts are also less busy on weekdays.

Your personal strategy?

I like to get up very early and start my tour in the cool of the morning. The parking spaces are usually still free. On the ascent you don't sweat so quickly and the hut is still not very busy if you want to have a snack. For the descent you have a good time buffer before dusk falls. Another advantage: when driving home, you can usually avoid the traffic jam. A day in the mountains just makes you happy - you can forget about Corona!

That applies on the go

  • Ideally, you should avoid the hotspots and choose peaks with a wide plateau and other climbs. But be careful: in order to avoid people, you shouldn't accept a higher risk of accidents
  • When a lot of people are on the move, more happens. But the mountain rescue works under corona conditions - the missions are therefore more complex. When choosing a tour, you should not overestimate your own performance.This reduces the risk of an emergency.
  • Keeping your distance is the order of the day. When doing sport, a minimum distance of two meters currently applies - even in the mountains. Tip: Walk the path with foresight and wait in front of narrow passages to let oncoming hikers pass.

Source: German Alpine Club (DAV)

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