School at last!

A video guide to arriving at the ‘Chalet School’!

Please note, the clips within this video were taken on a handheld compact camera – partly thru necessity, but also to emulate, as best possible, the actual experience of sitting on the rack and pinion train, of the movement of the steamer across the lake, of the excitement of reaching the ‘school’ for the first time.

Disclaimer: Girls Gone By Publishing own the copyright to the text (abridged) that is used in the voiceover, to describe the arrival at the ‘School’s’ location.



Filed under Briesau, The Lake, The School

One Image to summarise the ‘Tiernsee’/Achensee

After all three visits to the Achensee, I have come away each time with a specific image that somehow summarises some of the most important things about that visit. This is the image from this year – a view of the lake from the Rotspitze (the ‘Sonnenscheinspitze’?) – incorporating an Eidelweiss. The Rotspitze has come to mean so much to me, in it’s physical resemblance to a Church Tower or Steeple – and the Eidelweiss for it’s enduring power in some of the harshest places.

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Filed under Sonnalpe

On the Tiernjoch

Pink line shows the path we took – we branched off to the right and came round in an anti clockwise manner.

The 17th of July, 2011, was the day Hilda and I were lunatic enough to climb the real Mondscheinspitze, aka EBD’s “Tiernjoch”. The day dawned bright and sunny, with just a few puffy clouds around. We left the apartment somewhere around 9.30, heading towards 10am, and walked out towards the toll road, getting stuck behind weekend tourists.

However, we made good time to the further end of the Pleztach alm, which is where the path separates – to the left is the (car-usable) white grit path up the Feilkopf, straight on the road continues to Gernalm, and to the right, a white grit path crosses the currently dry riverbed, and heads up in a zigzag. A rather steep zigzag.

By then it was 10:35, and the sun was hot. We stopped on average every couple of zigzags, to drink, breathe and reapply suncream as required. As Hilda said, it wasn’t so much that her muscles or lungs were complaining, but that the heat was a real killer.

 However, it only took us about an hour and five minutes to get up, which was better than the projected hour and a half (all the major paths have signposts with predicted times on them).

At the beginning of the (very beautiful, rolling, green) alm there was a shrine on the lefthand side of the path to Our Lady, asking her to take care of those on the mountain. Nearby was a seat. After sitting to get our breath and reapply suncream, I picked some flowers to add to those on the shrine. The ones already there were no more that a couple of days old. I also asked Her to look after us.

 Walking on, we turned to the left, still on a wide grit path.

 We went through a gate and shortly after that saw another little shrine to Our Lady. At this point, Hilda noted that she was beginning to get a little nervous – so many shrines not dedicated to those who have died, but asking for the safety of those mad enough to climb the mountain! Shortly after this, our path branched to the left again, and became a regular goat track, up through the rocky grass and alpenrose bushes.

We had not been going all that long on this path, long enough for me to be barefoot, but only about ten or so minutes, when we saw a group coming our way. We stepped to the side to let them pass, the first was dressed in a truly Austrian manner, with green hat covered in badges, and traditional hiking gear, carrying an amazingly huge alpenstock, about on a par with Gandalf’s staff! In the middle was a girl about our age, dressed in jeans and boots, with a camera case swinging by her side. The man behind her also had a Tyrollean hat with badges, an alpenstock, and was wearing an interesting blue all in one suit at shorts length. We greeted them, and they us. Decided afterwards that they looked like guides for her. The first was rather like Herr Marani, and the latter like a small (er) version of Herr mensch. (he was nearer blond than the former). We continued on and it was not unlike a spread out grotto. Lots of alpen roses and bushes of firs, with flowers everywhere and turfy grass. We reached a flatter area and had a gorgeous view over behind the Mondscheinspitze to the Mantschenalm, and then a hamlet, which for a moment I thought might be right for the Mechtau in Rivals. (Wrong mountain side, it was one peak too far)

 At this point, we had walked over the Schleimsattel and were on the back slopes of the Kelberg (1748m). The Mantschen, a beautiful green mound of a mountain was over to our left, behind the Mondscheinspitze, and it looked gorgeous and fresh on the sunlight.
Walking on, we came to a steeper path, and just as we were starting, a couple came down. We greeted them, and it was after they had gone on that I commented to Hilda that I felt the need to greet everyone we met on this mountain with Gruss Gott. Somehow it
seemed important to give God’s Greeting, no matter how they greeted me. Up the steeper bit and then we came to a lovely alm, with lots of cattle. This was as near to the peak of the Kelberg as we got – we did venture off the path to take photos of the lake. Technically
speaking we were in the same gradient line as that peak. As we went to head up a bit further we met a beautiful calf, all fawny coloured and with Greta Garbo eyes. She posed for us.

We got by her, and around another cow, and over a ridge, and saw a nice little dell to sit in for lunch – figuring that the tough bit must be coming soon and we would rather have some food in us. There was a strong enough breeze, and both of us kept looking for any sign of weather it might be bring in, but the sky appeared to be clear.

Walking on, over another ridge, we saw the path wended its way along a very steep grassy plain – about 145 degrees from vertical. The path itself was no wider that two feet at any time, frequently less than 18″.

This was ok enough as it was similar to something we’d done at the foot of the Rotspitze peak previously, and we’d just been able to concentrate on the path and not look at what might happen if we fell. A similar case.

 Along we went, with two places where waterfalls had run away the path so we had to scramble up a little get a safe gripping to get over. The second of these, Hilda had to take her shoes off to do, so I got a photo whilst waiting on the other side. By this point the camera had otherwise been relegated to the rucksack.

 Next came a scramble down a scree path – as Hilda said, don’t you just hate going down to go up? It was very zigzaggy, and narrow, and probably about 20ft high, but the edges rolled off onto that grassy plain that disappeared down for a long time, before going into a sheer drop. At the bottom of this path, we found ourselves in a dried out waterfall bed, along the two to three metres where it was horizontal. And the Austrian flag path markers that we like so much seemed to go straight up the wall in front. Well, there was nothing for it. Up I went, finding footholds and handholds as I did. It was nearly thirty feet of fairly vertical wall, easily 160 degrees from vertical. But, that said, it was limestone and so there were cracks and crevices to wedge hands and feet in to (being careful that it wasn’t rotten, first!) After that, there was a 9″ wide scree rabbit track zigzagging on up, sometimes getting up to 15″ wide (ok, in truth, there were moments when it was 2ft, but they were rare.). I will say that it was very well marked, even if I didn’t like what the marks were telling me to do. After one particular hike up, I was waiting for Hilda, who was putting her shoes back on, and we saw a couple coming down towards us. We were in as good a passing place as any so stayed put. We greeted then and they stopped to chat, in English as soon as they realised how limited our German was. He was very sweet, asking which way we were intending to come down, and on learning it was the other, telling us not to be nervous if we found it got rather steep. They both wished us good luck, and told us to take care, and we returned the sentiment. Really lovely couple. On we went. It was a definite scree path and very steep, but it was a path. There was the odd more scramble up bit, but not distinct climbing as before. That said, I felt very fragile, as on both sides it was one hell of a drop, and scree is so slippy. Nearing the top we saw the monument marked on the map – a plaque to someone who had died on the mountain. Hilda stopped to take a photo, wedged between two pillars of rock.

Very shortly after this, to the right, I saw the rock face to the right looking just as like a knife edge as it does from Pertisau. Which was a little breathtaking! And a very sheer drop. A minute later we were clambering up to the peak, where a man was already sitting on the cement base of the cross. We greeted each other, and he commented on my lack of shoes. I said I didn’t like to wear shoes. Then Hilda got up, and he asked us which way we were going down – in fast enough German that we were unable to understand or reply. We told him we had very little German, and he did speak a lot slower, with gesticulation (clearly had no English).  Basically, he said, the path we had just come up was the easier of the two. Did we intend to go down the other? We said we would see. We sat down behind him and had some food. I’ll admit, my appetite was non-existent! As I turned around to look at the view, which was tremendous, I could see clouds blowing in from the west. And not good, nice clouds. Low clouds.  I got up and took a panorama shot of the view and then asked Hilda what she thought.

We decided to go on, as planned – which I was ok with, as I had no wish to go down the way we’d come up. We said goodbye to the gent, and got on our way. The first bit was a scree path, quite narrow (2ft or a little less, mostly) and quite slippy. Hilda particularly didn’t like it. I did it mostly by hanging on to things, and occasionally on my bands and feet, with my bum touching the path. I don’t think I even let myself take in what danger might lie in a misplaced foot. To keep us moving as fast as we could was the weather – it was now clear to see that a heavy wall of mist was moving in – and fast. At the bottom of this bit was a clambering part, which, whenI first saw it, made my heart rise, at least this was something I knew we could do, and do easily. There was a little wall of rock to climb over, on the right hand side of a crag, and then a path not more than a foot wide across, about 15feet, and then a hoik up over another little wall of rock (almost like a stile over a fence, but stone, and a 10 foot fence!) Then, to the left, an entrance – and through that we could see that the way was down. Fairly straight down. Thank you map markings. This is the bit marked “only for experienced”. It was rather like steps down, between a quite narrow wall. We both did it facing forwards and slightly sideways, and both found it easier than the scree paths – unlike, by the sounds of it, most normal hikers. On reaching the end of that climb, it was a 50ft shelf, mostly horizontal but going up and down a bit, no more than 1ft wide at any point, going across the right hand wall/crag. When both of us had safely crossed that, I stopped to take a photo – this, I felt sure, was Grizel’s ledge, or at least, the nearest thing to it.

...Follow the flags! Yes, that is the path!

 I also took a snap of the now firmly encroaching mist, coming round from both sides.

The path carried on round a crag, going down all the while – it was very scree-y. But, grass was visible in the distance (the Mondscheinsenke, little did we know.) Neither of us liked that shaley path, with the quite definite fall on the other side, the left hand side, but we kept moving, grasping to rock and fir bush. I love fir bush for this reason – it is a sturdy, easy to grip hold of entity, great for steadying oneself! We also met one tiny little edelweiss, which I stopped to photograph, in memory of Herr Mensch as a young boy.

Sadly, the photo isn’t really in context. By this point the mist was really firmly in, and in to stay.

Fairly soon after this, the shale path eased down to about a 135 degree angle, and after that we met the grass path and were able to walk on an almost horizontal plain for awhile, which was lovely. Around about then we put on our coats because it really was cold and horrid.

Also, the wind kept picking up and whooshing across, which was not the biggest amount of fun ever. You could hear it in the mountain crags, but the real problem was feeling that it might blow you off course – quite dangerous at this point, because although we were on a relatively flat path, it was still only a couple of feet wide over an isthmus. After maybe five minutes of fairly speeding walking, we started to go up again, (Hilda: don’t you just hate going up to come down!) and there were a couple of scrambly bits here as well. Nothing quite as bad as anything we’d previously done, but not so much fun in the mist. I’m making it sound awful, but really, it was just a case of getting on with it, of taking a good look at each scramble before starting it, and making sure that foot and hand holds held good. Soon enough we were on the next peak, the Mondscheinkopf/Plumsjoch. And from here it became much more plain sailing, to a medium grade path. There were some definite moments where I felt like the escapees in Exile – the path was often a hollowed one, and between that and the mist, it seemed quite
plausible that we might see a Swiss guard standing by the cross to the peak. By this point as well, we could hear cow bells – never have I been so glad to hear that sound! And very quickly we were down a little and the cows appeared out of the mist. The Mondscheinkopf/Plumsjoch is very close to the alm in comparison to any other peak we’ve climbed. We walked through the cows at a good pace, and noted a path to the right that went to another nearbypeak – but there was less than no point our trying it, given the visibility was thicker than ever, and, once we reached the alm, the rain had started too. We were very thankful to God for holding off the rain until we were off the limestone. After that junction, the path twisted round, and then I found a little shortcut, cutting off another twist. As we got back on the path from that, we had a gap edged with bushes on either side in front of us, and out of the mist appeared three beautiful grey ponies and one smaller, chestnut. It was truly like something out of Lord of the Rings.

At first they seemed nervous of us, but as we walked slowly towards them they seemed to sense we weren’t a threat, and one of the greys and the chestnut led the way towards us. They were all very eager to see if we had anything to feed them, and I think they could smell the chocolate in Hilda’s pocket! They certainly were very interested in it. The chestnut one as well, kept licking our toes and legs. Hilda reckons it was licking the salt off. If it hadn’t been so cold, we could both have stayed cuddlingthem for ages, but as it was, we had to leave them, and carry on down. Shortly after this we reached the road path, and a junction of a number of trails. By now I was ready to put my shoes on, and this done, we ran down the path for the next while. It was a good way of warming up! Within a couple of minutes we could tell we were properly on the way to the valley, the path got that zigzagging, going down a mountain look and feel about it. We ran quite a way of the first third, and about two thirds down stopped under a tree (it was quite definitely raining now) to have our last bit of tea and our boiled eggs. Then it was onwards.

Once down, we were only five minutes from the Gernalm. And then we crossed the river, on a bridge this time, and headed down the blissfully tarmacced road. We were both completely soaked by this point, and Hildasaid we should sing, because the road was more-or-less deserted, so we did. Must have gone through nearly or entire repertoire of folk music (which is quite extensive…) A few cars passed us, going the opposite way, and did give us such looks! I suppose we did look rather odd – sun hats, scarves, raincoats, apparently nothing else because the coats covered our shorts, dripping wet.. Oh well. It did begin to feel that that walk would never, ever end. But eventually it did. Never, ever have I been so glad as I was that day to climb in to a hot shower. I had to build up the heat because at first I couldn’t bear more than luke warm. Meanwhile Hilda got tea made and then we swapped. Our first act on getting in had been to thank God for getting safely home. The second had been to have a portion of schnapps each, a la Anna with Joey (and yes, it is fairly foul. Give me whisky any day!)

Distance : 18 miles according to my phone’s pedometer, but easily a bit more. Metres climbed -circa 1,200, if you include the separate hike up to the Mondscheinkopf.

Notes: with retrospect, I begin to doubt whether the Mondscheinspitze really is EBD’s basis for the Tiernjoch, or at least the complete basis for it. Helen McClelland identified it as such with the note that the ascent of the Mondschienspitze was almost identical to that described in School At – but really, it’s not. In School At, EBD writes that, after the ledge upon which Grizel got stuck, the path is half an hour of a fairly easy walk… And I defy anyone to claim either ascent after the two ledges (either the grass one, or the rock one, dependant on which route Grizel took) as being easy. Also, given how thick the mist is after Grizel leaves the alm, I would question whether she could have safely made it as far as the ledge – remember, we had path markings almost every five foot to guide us, which Grizel would not have had. My third reason for querying HMcC is more subjective: Joey frequently comments on how cruel the Tiernjoch looks. Now, the Mondscheinspitze does look like a knife edge; he looks as dangerous as he is. But… The Sonnjoch also looks cruel. In fact, Hilda and I both were struck by how the shadows on him look like blood spill… And how his peak curving over resembles somehow, a creature laughing about the death he has wrought. I shiver more at him than at the Mondscheinspitze, to be honest.

In terms of time, the average climb time from Pertisau to the top of the Mondscheinspitze is (officially) 4 hours. For the Sonnjoch, it is 6, or 7 depending which route you take. It would be more common to have to leave before Dawn, as Herr Mensch mentions for the Tiernjoch, to climb the Sonnjoch. (also, being a few hundred feet higher, it might make more sense for Prof Richardson to be climbing the Sonnjoch rather than the Mondscheinspitze…)

On the other hand, the Sonnjoch can’t be seen from the Chalet, whereas the Mondscheinspitze can. But, the Sonnjoch can be seen from most of Pertisau, whereas the Mondscheinspitze can’t…

Most likely, EBD combined the both of them to create the Tiernjoch, in the same way that she combined 3 valleys to make the Tiern Valley. But this hasn’t stopped us wanting to climb the Sonnjoch now, to see if that climb is closer in description to the Tiernjoch!


Filed under Briesau

A snake and a storm

 Dear Chalet School fans… if you should visit the Achensee and happen to be walking along any of the quiet paths, tread carefully or, to be more exact, tread noisily.

 Early yesterday evening, Nell and I took the boat to Gaisalm and walked back to Pertisau. It was about 18.30; the path is very quiet at that time of day, most walkers seem to have headed back home or to have taken the last boat out of Gaisalm at 18.10. This week we have taken a number of evening walks and have found it a very good time for seeing wildlife. (A proper post on this will follow.) This particular evening, we were walking quietly along as the path wended through trees when Nell almost trod on a snake. As she tends to walk barefoot, this would have been a rather more dramatic adventure than we would have enjoyed. Fortunately, the two managed to avoid each other. Nell leapt backwards but did manage to grab a very quick photo.  The snake is highlighted because it was doing a very good impression of a tree root until it moved.

It seems to be a common viper or common adder (vipera berus), quite young, judging by the size, and a little unusual in having no markings. We have both recently been re-reading School at and were struck by the moment when Amy sees a snake on their trip to EBD’s Mondscheinspitze.

 “Ooh! Ooh! A snake! A snake!”

We had been thinking that we had never seen or heard of any snakes here at the Achensee… 

“Madge set the child on her feet again with a sigh of relief. There were very few snakes found round the Tiernsee, and, so far as she knew,the only venomous ones were vipers, which were even more rarely seen than the harmless green variety”

 … but we will be keeping a sharper eye out from now on!

 Yesterday had more than one similarity with the day that particular day in School at actually.   It was very hot, still 29 degrees Celcius in the shade at 20.00 when we went swimming to try to cool our heads. I had an oppressive headache all evening and the reason became clear when, at around 22.00, we heard distant growls of thunder. The storm came up very fast, thunder and lightning first, flickering and rending the sky. The weather put on the full show. Lightning flashed and lit up the whole village, dazzling bright and showing all different colours. One flash was blue, another lime green, another purple, another red and yellow. Forks of lightning shot across the sky too, or plunged into the mountain peaks. The thunder was incredible: cracking and growling and rolling round and round the valleys, or else echoing back off the mountainsides, on and on. We could see the rain approaching, speeding down the Bärenkopf and the Zwölferkopf from the south and across the valley from the west and drenching everything in seconds. Luckily, we were inside this time. We even managed to get some photographs, sound recordings and a video.

More to follow later, when we’ve edited the video etc.


Filed under The Lake

A brief interlude from the ‘Tiernsee’…

Hilda and I have been here since Wednesday and it feels as if we’ve never been away; like the fifty weeks since we left were just a dream. The weather has been mostly very good, with odd thunder storms in the evening and a couple of misty mornings that have resolved into hot, sunny days. The only down side is that I arrived with a cold, that has since hit my chest, Joey style, and Hilda has now developed it too. This has rather got in the way of expeditions, but we still managed to climb to the Dalfazalm (Sonnalpe) yesterday. 750m above the lake, the hike up to the Dalfazalm is fairly close to EBD’s descriptions of the hike up to the Sonnalpe. The only thing that’s missing is the particularly strenuous twenty minutes at the top as described in The Chalet School and Jo – and even that you can credit as having been so once, it’s just they’ve cut a better path since then. A full description of that hike, with photos, will be forthcoming when we return, or sooner, if we can get our apartment’s Internet to talk to our computer…

Mention was made on the CBB a little while ago that in May 2011 the path to the Dripping Rock was blocked by the the result of a winter avalanche. We are glad to say that it is now open again.

On Friday evening, we were both feeling a little flat, after spending the day feeling rather ill, and so we decided to take a short walk out towards one of the two valleys, or ‘thals’ that EBD moulds into one ‘Tiernthal’. Rather than following the toll road out towards Gernalm and the Mondscheinspitze (‘Tiernjoch’), we chose the left hand of the valleys, the Falzurnthal, which leads to the Gramaialm and the mighty Sonnjoch. It was about 20:30 or so and still quite warm, and as we turned on to the path leading out that way, we found ourselves amongst a number of grazing cattle, tinkling and tonkling gently a they moved around the pasture. This is not unusual around the Achensee, but we still enjoy it. The cattle are so much friendlier here and, more importantly, they look so much healthier than the dairy cattle one sees in the UK. Walking out the road a little, we looked ahead just in time to see a doe run across the road about 50 yards in front, over to the slopes of the Dristenkopf (sometimes called the Bernjoch – School at – the Barenkopf – Joey and Co). The path here is fairly straight, and has a very gentle slope to it, so you hardly realise you’re gaining a little height. About a mile in or so, on the right, you meet a river/bed. This is one of the streams that feeds that which the Robin and Joey end up in, and true to form, in mid July, is dry as a bone. However, the idea of it flooding regularly is clearly not a made up one, as a system has been put in place to stop this occurring; between Pertisau and the Falzhurnalm there are at least two, maybe more, dams. These have been created so that the authorities have more control of the water, when to let it flow, when to stop it, etc. Clearly a large amount of water can come down, because on the mountain side of each dam, the river bed is both wide and deep. Just before one reaches the Falzhurnalm, there is the option of swapping over on to the toll road and turning back to Pertisau, which on this evening is what we did. Not before standing looking up at the Sonnjoch and feeling rather the same about it as Joey does about the Tiernjoch. It looks like it has tear stains or blood trails all down its side. And it truly does look as if it does not care how many people should die in pursuit of its peak. At this reckoning we got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, EBD combined the looks of the Sonnjoch with the description of the way up the Mondscheinspitze. A post on this topic will follow, with photos, somewhere when we return.

Swimming has been obligatory, weather permitting, and today, Nell fulfilled a long held dream to swim in the Achensee during a thunderstorm. Granted, the thunder and lightning was down at Achenkirche, but still. A north westerly storm, we rather expected it to rage for hours, but currently it appears to have gone off to the Zillerthal to bother them. Not before we saw some amazingly black cloud formations and a number of forked lightening strikes.

Update at 21:50 – we took a walk at around 18:00, first to see the cows coming out of milking at the entrance to the toll road (and therefore the entrance to the Tiernthal), then to head out towards the Falzhurnthal, before taking a left turn that brought us between the Zwolferkopf/Barenbadalm and the Dristenkopf. This path is bordered on the left, at first, with the golf course, and then on both sides with pine forest. We found any number of wild alpine strawberries growing and had a little pre dinner snack… Further along the path, Hilda spotted a hawk, flying high above us. Then I saw a young stag moving in the forest. He saw us, paused, then continued wandering on and after a while, crossed the road in front of us. Meanwhile, I could hear the wind getting up again, and when the deer had gone out of sight, and I turned round, I knew why… That turn of phrase that EBD uses “the clouds were marshalling in the north west” was wholly appropriate. We picked up our pace and headed back. Periodic rolls of thunder rolled in the background, and the golfers were all fleeing the green. By the time we reached the pasture, the cattle were all making hastily for the trees and shelter. The rain hit us just before we got through the gate back into Pertisau, but it wasn’t so strong as to really soak us. About 5 minutes before we reached the apartment I happened to look back and saw an amazing piece of forked lightening strike a the Seebergspitze. The thunder that followed was incredible. Luckily, both Hilda and I delight in thunder storms: the more intense, the better. We reached our flat somewhat wet and breathless, but it was worth every minute of it. Since then, we have had a couple of heavy showers, and a break in the thunder (think it went back down to the Zillerthal) – but as of fifteen minutes ago, it was sounding like it was coming back, so we’re hoping it might reappear to give us a light show in the night sky. (just because we want a good excuse to make hot chocolate from stick chocolate and milk…)


Filed under Briesau, Sonnalpe

Map + Video of the Angelus & Thunder roll…

Hello again! Firstly, our apologies for being “silent” for over a month. Term drawing to a close does do that. Secondly, if you’re new here, please check out the About page before going any further – it explains the purpose of this blog, and how to use it.

Now, one comment we recieved in May suggested that a map would be very useful. Nell had been with-holding this map until she had finished drawing out one of Briesau/Pertisau as well – however, that seems to be taking a very long time (“awfully”, in fact!) so she is relinquishing this one up for your viewing. It is a photo of a map that was pinned up in the window of an Alpine Sports shop in Pertisau, and Nell would like to make it clear that she completely and utterly does not own any copyright of it whatsoever. What she has done is edit it slightly with green highlighter to show some of the CS locations and some of the walks she and Hilda took in 2010.  If you click on it you should see a bigger size image.

We cannot stress enough that if you do go to visit the Achensee, you should buy a proper map and not rely on the handouts from the Tourist Office – linked on the right. They are nice, and give a good idea of places in relation to each other – but they are not to scale nor do they accurately show paths. (We blame them for the very interesting path we took down to Jenbach/Spartz one day…) Maps can be found in the Spar that is next to the Tourist Office, as well as in some of the sports shops. We bought the Kompass wandern map, number 027 entitled Achensee, and have found it excellent.

Edited Map showing some of the routes mentioned so far on the Armchair Guide to the Tiernsee...

We took a number of videos whilst up at the Achensee – the first few we hadn’t realised that zooming cuts out the sound, so they will have to be edited before we put them up. However, we do have a video from the second thundery day that was ready to load on to youtube. The first thundery day was the day we were up on the Rofan range – and spotting the clouds forming from the North West, we made speedily for home. The actual Thunderstorm didn’t break till later that evening – but it was truly spectacular. We sat up and watched it till late that night (drinking hot chocolate made from block chocolate – very much recommended, and easier when you have a real cooker!) The next day seemed cooler and clearer – though still very hot and sunny. That was the day we walked down to Jenbach/Spartz – not by the route used in the books! That evening, we were just fetching some provisions from the Spar, when the Church rang out the Angelus, as it did every night at 6pm.  Most evenings at that time we had either been in the Appartment or down at the lake swimming, and neither were great locations for recording the sound. On this occassion we were on one of the little paths that leads across Pertisau, so were slightly nearer the Church. So we stopped to record – and managed to get a recording of the thunder too! The video finishes off when it does because we realised we were about to get soaked!

So, what are you looking at? The Catholic Church, as described on the Briesau page. Behind it, to the left, the Feilalm and Feilkopf – otherwise known as the Mondscheinspitze. You can see the alm with it’s Gasthaus. Later on in the video we move across, so the Church is at the very left hand side of the video, and you can see the Mondscheinspitze (aka the Tiernjoch) on the right hand side – looking very much like a knife blade gleaming in the darkening light. Meanwhile, the sound, which is very quiet, is the Ave Maria – a recorded version that the Church plays out every day at 12 midday and 6pm.

It’s not long now until we’re heading back to the Achensee and we hope to give regular, possibly even nightly, updates while we’re there – when back home service will return to the rather more intermittent normal!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this update – please remember, you can subscribe to recieve notification of when the site updates – just click on the “sign me up” button to your right.

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Filed under Briesau

The Alpenhof – Der Edel Ritter?

Firstly, for those new to this site, welcome, and please have a look at the About page to get a feel for what it’s all for…

Now, a short post on the topic of the Alpenhof, the previously popular location for the original Chalet School (to see why we don’t believe it is, have a read of the School section before you read any further here).


The Alpenhof Hotel may not really be in the correct location for the Chalet School, but even when we saw its roof on google-earth, we started to think there was something familiar about it – and when we saw it, Nell in particular was struck by the likeness to a different school building.

Front view of the Alpenhof

“Der Edel Ritter was built with a centre portion, and two wings.” (‘Bill’ in Exile)

Look familiar? Of course, the Alpenhof is a little smaller than described as Der Edel Ritter – 150 bedrooms it does not have. But the architecture is too similar to be a coincidence, in our opinion.

For those of you visiting Pertisau, a few pointers – technically the land surrounding the Alpenhof is signposted as private property, with entrance forbidden. Nobody seems to take any notice of this, it is used as a through way for locals and tourists alike. But please do watch out if getting up close and personal to the building as there is quite a bit of broken glass on the ground around it.

Back of the Alpenhof

It seems quite plausible that EBD would have noticed the architecture of the Alpenhof and kept it in mind for later use – as Der Edel Ritter; no matter that Der Edel Ritter is up on the Sonnalpe and not down in Briesau/Pertisau.

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Filed under Sonnalpe, The School

Update – Pages nearing some sort of completion!

Hi all, firstly a big Thank You to those who have subscribed to the blog – it’s really made our month that people are watching the website and getting something out of it.  Also an equally big “welcome” to anyone just arriving here for the first time – you can find information on why this blog/site exists (and how to navigate it) in the about section..

This is just a quick entry to say that all the ‘Pages’ (the links above the banner) now have content on them. This will be added to, obviously – the Daytrips Page will have info on Jenbach/’Spartz’, Mayrhoffen added, probably in June some time, and after the visit this July, more info will go up about the mountains around Pertisau/’Briesau‘ and the Rofan/’Sonnalpe’ range. And of course, we will be adding to this part of the blog regularly.

For now, a picture of the converted ex-Steamer, the St Joseph – this is the one that Elinor M Brent-Dyer would have used when she visited the Achensee…  She is tethered up between the Furstenhaus (‘Kron Prinz Karl’) and the Lido area in Pertisau. Note the red roof of a villa in the picture – that is the modern Wald Villa, the namesake of the home of the Pfeiffen family.

View of the St Joseph tethered in Pertisau, with the Sonnjoch in the distance.

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Filed under Briesau


Welcome to “Tiernsee – an armchair guide to the real thing”. This is a site, set up by two fans of Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School, to share with other fans the beauty of the real location of the ‘Tiernsee’. We’re only getting the website set up at the moment, and currently you will find information on the ‘About’ page (setting out what we intend to do)  and ‘The School’, ‘Briesau’, ‘The Lake’ and ‘Sonnalpe’ pages. Don’t worry, we will get the ‘Daytrips’ page up and running soon, with lots of photos of Jenbach (“Spartz”), Innsbruck, Mayrhoffen/Zillerthal and more. After that, we will add blog entries (on this page) with specific anecdotes and photos of places and moments related to EBD’s ‘Tiernsee’.

But until then, the view of Pertisau (‘Briesau’) and the lake from the Barenköpf:-


Filed under Briesau, The Lake