Hike to the Penkkopf - The “Magician“ in the Salzburg Summit Game

The Penkkopf (2,011 m) in the Niedere Tauern range counts amongst the local mountains in Wagrain-Kleinarl and boasts grand views as far as the highest mountain in Austria. At any rate, the peak is green to the very top and a valuable habitat for flora and fauna. The Magician’s ritual concerns awakening your own zest for life and recognizing existence as a precious gift.

Before I take you on this short virtual tour to the Penkkkopf, I’d like to stop for a moment in Kleinarl. Theoretically at least. As the village, with its population of 700 and its houses beautifully decorated with flowers and the Kleinarl stream which gushes through the resort, is so idyllic that lingering is well worth it.  Annemarie Moser-Pröll – one of Austria’s best women skiers, counts amongst the famous personalities of Kleinarl And that’s saying something! Those heading along the valley a little further will come to the Jägersee Lake, from where you can hike up to the Tappenkarsee. This counts as the largest mountain lake in the Eastern Alps.

The hike up to the Penkkopf, on the other hand, turns off right from the village centre. Whilst the powerful Ennskraxn, the Faulkogel and the Rothorn tower above the eastern side of the valley, the mighty Penkopf at 2,111 m high, is the local mountain which is somewhat easier to climb. There are around 1,000 m elevation gain to conquer to the summit cross and the path leads upwards for the first one and a half hours mostly through the forest and alternatively along a narrow trail or along a forest track.
Now and again you get wonderful views of the resort and the surrounding mountains. Mountain bikers are also out and about: as the „Kleinarler Hütte“ at an altitude of 1,765 is not just situated in a scenic location, it also spoils mountain sports enthusiasts with tasty snack such as a cheese platter or the  KLH-Burger with potato wedges.
Even before the hut, the forest opens out and the trail leads over alpine meadows to the hut: from now on you have your destination set in your sights. Right behind the “Kleinarler Hütte“ the Penkkopf rises up with its distinctive, gleaming peak cross. From the hut the path leads onward along a narrow, steep trail for another 50 minutes through a light larch forest and over sparse mountain pasture steeply up to the peak: marmots live up here, fireflies and wild bees too.
Where does the “Magician“ get his name from? Exactly from this! It is this combination of enchantingly beautiful scenery and the wealth of fireflies, which swarm around midsummer: a magical spectacle.
Once you’ve reached the Penkkopf, which is green to the very top, a rest amongst the Alpine Roses and the juniper bushes not far from the summit cross is recommended: this stands on an imposing wooden plateau, resembling a dance floor. Dancing is allowed, of course! After all, the Magician’s ritual invites you to leave you own comfort zone and to do something crazy. The Magician views life as a game: he encourages us to consider life as a gift and to tackle it with relish. The ritual is a small lesson in this, and I’ll tell you this much: it takes a bit of effort, but it’s then great fun!
You head back down to the valley along the same path or in a large loop via the Kurzeggalm, which you already see on the way up. In any case, a culinary stop - here and there – is recommended. As pleasures of the palate should never be neglected – according to the Magician.

Tips & Info:

Here you can find out everything about the Salzburger Summit Game.

And here you can find more information about the Penkkopf.

photo credits: Salzburger Sportwelt / Michael Grössinger, Jägersee (c) Wagrain-Kleinarl-Tourismus / Eduardo-Gellner