The day starts early. Too early for the holidays, I think as the alarm on my mobile goes off at 3:45 am. Roll over and go back to sleep, I tell myself, snuggling into my duvet on the hotel bed. Only for a nagging voice in my head to pipe up: you said yes, so you're going through with it. All right, all right!
A quick and refreshing shower later and I'm standing in front of Flachau's sports and outdoor activities centre, waiting for the taxi shuttle service with a small group of like-minded people. A delicate glimmer appears on the horizon behind the mighty peaks of the Dachstein Mountains. No sign of the sunrise as yet. In a few minutes, we will start our hike almost a thousand metres higher. Our companion on this adventure is the cook and walking guide Jakob Kaml, known in Flachau simply as "Jaggi". He has a pan and firewood in his rucksack – I'll find out later what he needs them for.
Our shuttle takes us over narrow mountain roads to Kogelalm. In winter, this is where skiers sweep down the slopes into the valley, but in the summer, Kogelalm is a beautiful alpine pasture. Silence apart from the odd cowbell and a gentle breeze – and Jaggi's laughter as he jokes with the other early risers and starts herding us up the hill. After all, the sunrise won't wait! I can see my breath in the light of my headlamp. I pull the zip of my jacket right up to my chin. And I'm ready to go.