Hiking & Biking – Birkkarspitze 2749 m, Is it doable in one day?

Birkkarspitze was actually not my plan for this weekend, but as I could not do the hike I had planned in Innsbruck, this was a nice plan B. This is not very easily accessible hike, specially when you want to do it with one day.

Birkkarspitze is the highest peak in Karwendel mountains, I actually thought that Westliche karwendelspitze was the highest one and that I was on top of karwendel when I did Mittenwalder klettersteig. Turns out that it is actually Birkkarspitze 😀

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If you want to hike Birkkarspitze in one day the options are to bike into the Karwendeltal or Hinterautal. The advantage of choosing Karwendeltal is that you will have a hut on the way back and you can do a nice loop, including the ridge over Ödkarspitze. From Hinterautal you can only do Birkkarspitze and you will need to go up and down the exact same path. We did the Karwendeltal route, If I decide to only hike Birkkarspitze, I will do it via Hinterautal.

So our route was the following (Outdooractive link):

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This was the first hike where I bike to the starting point of the hike. I just bought a new (used) bike on Thursday and I was both excited and nervous about using it on this hike. I had read on the all knowing internet that the road to Karwendelhaus should be also bikeable with normal bike, but I also knew that it was 500hm uphill, over 13 km. So I uncertain if my city bike would be suitable for that 😀 But when in doubt I try to remember the advice a Norwegian expeditionist,  Børge Ousland: “Don’t be so afraid of failing”. So with this advice in my head we packed the bags on Saturday and went to bed at nine to wake up 5:30 the day after.  The first train from Munich to Scharnitz leaves at 6:30 so we biked to Hbf. in the dark!! I can’t believe that it was dark, this actually means that winter is coming! Ok I am exaggerating a bit, but still, days are getting shorter fast.

In Scharnitz we took out our outdooractive map and tried to follow it, but still go lost. Luckily there was a nice lady who told us where the bike road to Karwendelhaus starts.

Still, the beginning of the trail was a little bit tricky. We could just follow the road and signs to Karwendeltal, but chose to take a short, but steep as hell, shortcut through the forest. In retrospective it was worth it, because I am quite sure it saved 30 minutes, or more by doing this. But if you do not feel like starting the hike by pushing your bike up a narrow ,steep forest path, just follow the road and signs to Karwendeltal (the outdooractive map follows the forest path 🙂 )

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After sweat 20 minutes in the forest, the path ran into the main gravel road and we were able to start biking. It was still heavy and all the mountain bikers, with their crazy ass mountain bikes, biked pass us. One of them was even asking me if we really wanted to do Birkkarspitze, then laughing and biking pass us. Honesty, not everybody has 2000 euros to invest into a mountainbike, you do not need to be a ***hole about it!

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From Scharnitz It took us 2 hours to bike to Angeralm, but since we forgot to look at the map we biked a bit too far and had to bike back. That cost us probably 15 minutes or so 😦  

At Angeralm we locked our bikes under a nice three and started the hike at 11:45. There were no signs on the whole hike so a GPS map from outdooractive was really very useful. The hike up was very steep to begin with, but flattened out after a while when we reached the ridge. The path itself was hardly visible, and at times it felt like we were not following a path at all, just walking in the wildness. There were no other hikes on the path we took, so I guess most people hike just Birkarspitze from the hut.

 

 

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Do not bike into the forest here, the path starts on the right side of the big tree

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We did not mind having the path to ourselves, the views were amazing and looking up towards the ridge reminded us of the Dolomites, just without all the tourists. Before we got to the real ridge we had to cross a long gravel valley, but it was not steep and was easy to cross. From here the last accent to the real ridge started. There were sections on the ridge that were surprisingly exposed. Luckily there were fixed iron ropes on these sections, which was good because even I felt unconformable at one spot :O :O

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Climbing down from Ödkarspitze

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Another thing that surprised us was that the ridge was not really flat. Looking at the map I thought it would be more or les flat, but in fact we had to go quite a lot up and down between the Weslishe Öderskarspitze (2712m) , Östliche Ödkarspitze (2738 m) and Birkkarspitze(2749), even though their height difference is only couple of meters.

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When we got to the part where you can choose to go up to Birkkarspitze or down to the hut it was 15:30 and so after some discussion we decided to drop the peak. We were not sure how much time it would take and we wanted to have some time at the hut. Also, the path down to the hut looked really hard and we decided therefore to take a small break at the Biwak hut instead, have our Gipfel beer there and then head down. The Biwak hut was nice but very small, I think some of the people coming up planned to stay there overnight. So this would also be an option, but remember, there is no water there, so you need to bring enough water in you want to do this.

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Biwak slefie

In retrospective we could definitely have made the peak as well, but we would then have been stressed about the time on the way down and would not have enjoined it as much. Therefore I am also not too bitter about missing the peak. In the end I don’t do this to gather the most peaks, I do this because I love being in the mountains. From the Biwak we used 1h 30 minutes down, not rushing it. We were at the hut 17:30, but it turned out they did not serve dinner before 6:00. Which meant they only had soup and beer. Not exactly what we were hoping for 😦

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Karwendelhaus, Birkkarspitze is in the fog behind it.

After some beer and Apfelstrudel we started heading down to our bikes, which took us about another hour walking. From Angeralm we just rolled back to Scharnitz in ca. 1 hour. This was pure enjoyment! And at the same time I understood why it was so heavy to bike to Angeralm, it was in fact all uphill! 😀 😀 ..

We were down at Angeralm at 19.00 and at Scharnitz train station at 20:15. The loop to the hut took us 6.h 30 min. If you want to do the peak you need to add at least 40 minutes, I would say.

We had some time to kill before as the last train back to Munich leaves 21:30. We used the time on stretching and got some beverages and crisps from the local petrol station.

All in all this was a real challenging hike, including the hm from Scharnitz, we did over 2000 hm in one day! The feeling of accomplishment was even stronger as we did it with normal bikes, which is way more adventurous and challenging than cruising to the hut on a mountainbike. Do I recommend this hike for “normal” people ? Well, you differently need to like a challenge if you decide to do it with normal city bike, but let there be no doubt, it is doable!

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This weekend I can’t go hiking because of work 😦 , but the boulder world cup 2017 is held in Munich this weekend, so I plan to stream it and enjoy my sofa. Furthermore, in two weeks I plan to do a real badass hike in Austria, which I need to charge my batteries for, so a weekend at home will be nice. 

 

 

Trust or not to Trust the Weather Forecast – Hiking Thaneller 2 341 m

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At times it feels like looking at the weather forecast has become my new hobby 😀 While other people spend their time checking for Facebook updates, I spend my time on checking the weather forecast for different parts of the Alps! 😀 (Btw, I still trust the Norwegian weather app yr.no the most)

This weekend I had not been been hiking for the two past weekends and was quite desperate, but again the weather forecast predicted thunderstorms and rain in the mountains for the weekend to come. The question was, should I trust the forecast or not?? In the end I decided not to do so, and went hiking anyways! I was off course ready for rain and we had decided that if the weather turns stormy we will turn around.

So we got up at 5:30, took the 6:35 train from Hbf and headed to Heiterwang to conquer Thaneller (2341m). First of all I must say I was totally surprised that I could use the Bayern ticket the whole way, as Heiterwang is in Austria. So this was a pleasant surprise. After 2 hours and 15 Minutes we were there. The weather was perfect, 23 degrees and sunny. Still, I was a little worried because the rain was supposed to start after 12:00, hence we had quite fast pace for the first two hours.

The path from Heiterwang is not hard to find and it is a nice path through the forest and across several green meadows. If the sky is clear you can spot the peak already form the train station (It is the highest one).

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This is the peak, but you have to go around to the right, before you start the accent

 

After two hours, a rocky gravel path starts and heads to the right. We were not aware of this, but in fact you have to go to the right side of Thaneller to get to the peak. This was a little disappointing for us, as it felt that we were almost there as the peak was so near, but instead of heading right up the wall we needed to follow the path approx 30 minutes direction Reutte and decent approximately 150 hm down into a valley, where the real accent started.  From the valley we followed a zigzag gravel path direction a rocky wall.  When we meet the wall, the most fun part of the hike started. There is some scrambling and some iron ropes, but no equipment is needed. From this point we thought the peak was quite close, but in fact It took us another 1h 30 minutes to reach the peak.

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THE WALL , the path follows the left side

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The view from the peak was really worth the struggle. Plansee changed its colors from blue to green as the sun hit it and the white clouds made the view to the lakes mysterious and idyllic at the same time:

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One happy mountaingirl

As always we took our time on the peak and stayed approximately for an hour enjoying the sun, the view and the calmness of Thalneller. From the peak, we could actually see all the way to Hohenschwangau. We could also easily spot Säuling, so it was cool to spot it and know that we have been on top of it :D:D You can read about our hike to Säuling here.

We went down the same scrambling path as we came up, but choose a different path down in the valley to Heiterwang because I find it boring to go up and down the same path and that way we did not have to climb 150 m up again 🙂 It was a really nice path that followed the river for some time so we could fill up our water bottles and then turned into a forest road which was very enjoyable to walk down to Heiterwang. I would not choose this path up to Thanleller, because upwards it would be too boring to walk the forest road, but downhill after a heavy hike, it was perfect!

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The fog got to us on the way down, but we did not really mind after the view we had from the peak.

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I have made a GPS track of the whole trail available on Outdooractive.

We got to Heiterwang at 17:50 and had some time to kill before the next train at 18:38. So we saw everything there was to see of Heiterwang, which is not much. We could not even find a place where you could buy a beer 😦 In other words, there is no point to spend time in Heiterwang, there is just nothing to see! But we used the waiting time to do some stretching and yoga exercises, so the passed fast.

In conclusion, don’t trust the weather app 100%. At least I am glad I did not this weekend. I even know people who were braver than me and went for Alpspitze – a peak that I have planned to do for a month now! Perhaps later this month I can finally stand on top of it!

Until the next hike. Now I’m off for some boulderfun 🙂

 

Große Arnspitze (2196 m)

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This weekend the weather was on our side and so we decided to hike up Große Arnspitze (2196 m) just across the German border. As a matter of fact you start in Germany and end the hike in Austria. Hiking from one country to another is fun!

To be exact the route we took was the following: Mittenwald (923 m) – Riedkopf (1860 m) – Arnspitzhütte (2003 m) – Große Arnspitze (2196 m) – Arnspitzhütte (1955 m) – Scharnitz (964 m). 

This means it is almost a 1300m climb. Its not for a beginner, but nice easy intermediate hike. Actually the hardest part is not the elevation gain, but the fact that the hike is long. The signs say 5.25h to the top and we used that time including two long lunch breaks. I mean, with weather like this its a crime not to take breaks to enjoy the view.

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Can you spot the hut?  Scharnitz is down in the valley.

We had some trouble finding the trail from Mittenwald, since there are no directions to the hike in the train station. Here a map and GPS were useful.

The trail it self is quite easy. The first hours are on a smooth and even trail in the forest. The only problematic part is that it is easy to loose the trail while looking at the Karwendel on the opposite side of the valley. Especially since the path is not that visible all the time, so keep looking for the red markings every now and then.

After a while you come higher up and have even better view of Karwendel. Therefore, I recommend to wait until you are just above the tree level before having a lunch break. Its a bit far but its amazing to sit and have lunch to this view.

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This is not Karwendel, but to the left is Wettersteinkopf, which is a really nice hike!!

After walking across the Riedkopf its a more or less even path to Arnspitzhütte. Btw I think this is not a serviced hut and when we did the hike it was closed, so take enough food and water with you. From the hut its approximately 200 high meters to the top of the peak. This is pretty steep so its heavy but fast. Just the way we like it! I think we used 30 -45 min up. On the top there are two peaks. One that is a peak for less experienced hikers (read nubs) and the real Arnzpitse. In order to get to the real Arnspitze where the cross is, you need to cross a short exposed ridge. Don’t do it in rain or if its slippery! This is me crossing the ridge:

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Now after enjoying the view and eating your chocolates, you go down to the hut again and then take the trail pass the hut direction Scharnitz.  Its a long way down. Really – the path does go further away from Scharnitz before it turns back to Scharnitz. I recommend waking to Gießenbach instead, since it is the same distance and then you don’t need to walk backwards.

As we don’t own a car we normally get to the mountains by public transport. With car there are so many more opposites and it is normally easy to figure out how to get to the starting point, therefore I will just give the instructions for public transport from my current base, Munich.

So how to get there: 

Take a train from Munich Hbf as early as possible. We took the seven a clock train. Coming back is also easy, just take the train from Scharnitz/Gießenbach.

I even got sunburned this weekend. In the middle of October? Can you believe it? Crazy, but I like it! I hope you guys got a change to escape the city and enjoy the mountains this weekend.

Until next time,

Caho!