Alpspitze 2 628 m – my first hike on my own

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Alpspitze has been on my list a long time because it looks pointy and I just love pointy mountains. Every time I took the train pass Garmisch Partenkirchen I got reminded of that I still had not been on top of top of it. BUT NOT ANYMORE! :D:D  Now I can point to it and say have have been on top of it 😀 (as I proudly did when we took the train to Ehrwald last weekend 😀 )

Actually i have tried to climb or planned to climb Alpspitze several times. First I planned to do it in August this year, but then I got sick. Then we tried a month ago, but first we could not find the bus (Bus nr2) that you have to take to get to the Alpspitze cable car and when we finally found the right stop we had to wait 45 minutes until the next bus. That was ok, we had time and the after a coffee and some breakfast we were ready to take the next bus, but when Elias started to look for our train ticket which is also valid on busses, he could not find it anywhere. After some desperate searching we just had to admit that we forgot it on the train. Well ok we thought, we will need new ticket anyways to get home so we decided to buy a new ticket on the bus. Turned out that this bus, which was a local bus and not a regional bus, did not sell Bayern tickets and we had to buy one from the automate in the train station, but as the bus driver did not want to wait for us this meant that we had to take the next bus ad again wait 45 minutes. As we already had very limited time for this hike and needed to be back in Munich for a birthday party that same evening we decided to drop it and take the train back home. It just was not meant to happen, I told Elias and so Alpspitze reminded on my list.

So two weeks ago I decided to try again. It was a very spontaneous decision. I decided to go for it around half past eight in the evening and therefore had to pack in a hurry, not like me at all 😀

Elias did not want to join, not because he don’t like Alpspitze, but because he did not want to use a vacation day. So I decided to be adventurous and go by myself! It had rained so much lately that I could not let this change go pass me.

I wanted to do the Via Ferrata from Osterfelderkopf 2057m. The Via Ferrata was supposed to be easy, but as I was going alone I decided to take the Via Ferrata set with me.

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Normally I would hike the whole way from the valley, but that is over 2000m climb and with days getting shorter doing this would have most likely meant hiking in the dark on way down. In addition, weather forecast promised rain for after four o’clock. Therefore, not feeling bad about it (ok,maybe just a little), I took the super expensive cable car up and down (27 euros!!) Or at least I paid for it. In fact I managed to take the wrong cable car up! 😦  So if you now read this, learn from my mistakes! The problem was that the bus stops in front of the Kreuzeck cable car station which only takes you up to 1651m. This was the only station I  could see when I got of the bus and had bought the ticket. The Alpspitzbahn is further pass the ticket station  and I did not see it. I therefore took the wrong one 😦

But it was all ok in then end, it just meant that I had to hike up one and a half hour to Osterfelderkopf, where I could finally start the Via Ferrata to Alpspitz. There was just one problem, I had trouble figuring out where exactly the Via Ferrata starts. There are a lot of signboards, but all of them are for touristy easy walks in the area. To find the via Ferrata I walked around the rocks on the path above the road and managed to spot the right sign. I followed the trail further and found the start of the Via Ferrata together with the warnings “for experienced hikers only”. The Via Ferrata starts before the small tunnel, so if you meet the tunnel you have walked too far. From the spot of the warning signs you hike a little further until you meet the sign where it explains how to use the Via Ferrata set. I geared up here and took a nervous selfie before I started the climb.

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I have heard that it gets very busy on Alpspitze during weekends and summer, but I was all alone most of the time. I passed on couple on my way up and I saw that there was one other group of people climbing up after me.

The Via Ferrata is 500 height meters and quite long, but I felt it was easy, and I did not use my Via Ferrata set once. The route was secured meter by meter, also in places where you really did not need any securing. It was quite exposed at times, so it’s not for people with fear of heights. I used one and a half hours up, but I did not take any breaks so with more traffic and more breaks it would take 2 hours for sure.

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This was not uncommon on this path/ via ferrata
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The peak, so close yet so far.

At times I stopped up for a moment to join the view and to feel proud of myself. Not only did I go hiking alone, which I find is brave enough since I have terrible sense of direction, but I also decided to do a hard hike which I had not done before, with a long Via Ferrata! Some people probably think that it is dangerous to hike alone, and I guess it can be, but it is also dangerous to cross the street or drive a car and we still do it? For me it is nice to know that I can go by myself and do not need to be dependent of others. Still, I will always enjoy hiking with others more than alone because I like the social aspect of it and I like to share the moments and experiences.

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On the peak I took a one hour break, and enjoyed the view and my accomplishment. The weather was clear and it was easy to see Zugspitze and Jubiläumsgrat. Jubiläumsgrat is actually on my list. I just need to level up fist or find somebody who has a little more mountaineering experience and will let me tag along 😉

Zugspitze had a construction crane on top of it, the ultimate sign of tourist taking over that peak. This makes me soo sad and this is also why I haven’t hiked Zugspitze yet. I go to mountains to be in nature not to post postcards and stand in a crowd.

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After some time I tried to figure out what path to take down. My original plan was to take Grieskar down, but everybody else were choosing another path called Ostflanke. I did not know how hard Grieskar would be, but I knew that it would be longer. In the end I decided to join another group of hikers who took the popular path down. I just did not want to push my luck and miss the last cable car down. The group of four who I hiked down with german and older than me, but it is easy to find the tone with people who have the same passion as you. We talked about mountains and hiking most of the way down. We had quite fast phase and used one and half hour down. This path was not a klettersteig and was indeed easy, but it was at times hard to spot it. But there is quite a lot of traffic on it so it is always possible to follow others.

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Back at the cable car station I had just enough time to book a bus ticket back to Munich before the next cable car went down. As it was quite early I could have had hiked down, but since I already had the ticket I did not want to waste it. I could not complain about the views from the cable care either:

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From the valley I took again bus nr 2 to Garmisch and had 1 hour to kill before the flixbus arrived. The moment the bus arrived it started to rain and I was quite glad that I did not decide to hike down after all.

When I hiked alone I felt the need to share my joy with somebody when I managed to make it to the top, but there was nobody there. I guess I will get used to this after more alone hiking. The good thing is that I will always have this blog to share some of the moments of my adventures.

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I just finished pacing for my next hike. The weather is supposed to be amazing this weekend, but unfortunately I can only do an easy hike tomorrow. Will blog about it soon 😉

Cheers,

Made.

Schöttelkarspitze – a hike that has it all.

Schöttelkarspitze hike, via the Soiuernhaus hut, really has it all. The peak itself is just above 2000 m, and the hike up is not easy, but also not too hard. The ridge is a little exposed, but unless you are really afraid of highs you will be fine. We had actually planned to do both Soiernspitze and Schöttelkarspitze, but that would have been a really long hike for one day. And as the last bus back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen leaves at 19:51, it would also mean not having time for long breaks on the top of the peaks! Therefore we decided to do only Schöttelkarspitze this time, have a long break and nice lunch on the top of the peak and then head down to Soiernhaus for beer and a swim in the Soiernsee. This was my second time in the area. I spotted this mountain for the first time during our winter hike and since then it has been on my list. Now that I have done it and been to the peak, I find it super crazy that some people did it during winter with lots of snow! I guess there are some people out there who like taking bigger risks than I do…

We started out from Krün. The first 1000 m are more or less in forest on a dirt trail. We were glad for that because the trees offered some protection from the sun. It was quite steep so I got a good workout, trying to keep up the speed of our super fast group. The trail got less steep after we got out of the forest at that point we could easily spot Schöttelkarspitze as it is so pointy!

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The view that meets you when you get out of the forest
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Schöttelkarspitze from the distance
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Getting closer 😀

Before getting to it however, we had to hike up to a peak called Seinskof. Well, actually did not go to the peak and its cross, but had a lunch on a ridge, not far away from Seinskof. After Seinskof you can choose if you want to take the upper path over the ridge or a lower path that is not so exposed. If you ask me upper path is so worth it, and it wasn’t really exposed. I mean, there was a little scrambling for couple of meters but that was all. And the views were most certainly better than on the lower path, but it’s nice to have an option to avoid the ridge for the less adventurous ;).

 

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Chilling on the peak, 0h what a view.

After Seinskof the hike was just pure joy. On the peak itself we had a long break, the only thing that got us moving was the thought of a cold beer in the hut and a nice referencing swim to wash off all the sun lotion. We could spot the hut from the peak and had therefore no trouble with finding the right direction. The way down was on a curvy, rocky path, so hiking poles were nice to have (I really do not know how I managed to hike without them for so many years).

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Soiernsee

At the hut we were not sure how much time we could use on a swim and food. We were told by some local mountain rangers that we would need 3 hours to get to Krün. That meant we had only about 30 minutes in the hut. Therefore we had to choose between beer or a swim. I chose the beer this time. Some of my friends went for a swim and could report that the water was refreshingly cold (Read cold :D). After beer/food/swim, we started to head down to Krün, kind of in a hurry, not wanting to miss the last bus.

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Shortly after we started our descent we came to a way cross where we needed to choose between an upper path (to the left) or lower path (to the right). The signs said that both paths would take the same amount of time, so we went for the upper path – Lakaiensteig via the Fischbachalm. This path was very nice, not steep and we had a scenic view to a long and loud waterfall which the other path seemed to cross.

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On our path we also crossed some small mountain rivers where I dipped my head into the cold mountain water, to get rid of some of the sweat and sun lotion. Oh what an amazing feeling! We also filled our water bottles since we forgot to do that in the hut.  Not long into the decent, we met a young couple who were going camping in the area. I was a little jealous at the moment, but it rained a lot that night, so I hope they had a good tent.

After approximately one and a half hour the path ended in a road, the same road we would have walked when taking the lower route. We followed this road for one hour to Krün and missed the 6 o’ clock bus with 15 minutes. That was actually not a problem at all, we just sat and enjoined the sun and the rest of the food we had left by Isar for an hour. Unfortunately Isar was really cold, so swimming was not an option.

We then walked to Krün and were kind of surprised how many restaurants this small place has. If we would have known that I guess we would have skipped chilling by the Isar and had some pizza instead. I am glad we did not know. Sitting by Isar, looking at sunset and stretching a bit was quality time. At least for me.

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My friend Anna has posted a GPS track of the hike here, together with instructions of what bus and train to take from Munich.

Already at the hut it was decided that we will come back to this nice area, perhaps for an overnight hike, perhaps with a tent?  I can not wait!

Now I am getting ready for some adventures in Norway, so stay tuned 🙂

Säuling (2047m) – A mountain that has been on my list since I moved to Germany.

I remember the very first time I went to Füssen and to Schloss Neuschwanstein. It was back in 2015 and we had just moved to Germany. We were standing on Marienbrücke when I saw Säuling, as a big pyramid in the sunset. I remember telling Elias that we need to find out what that mountain is called and hike it! Eventually we did find out what it was called, but it took me two and half years to finally stand on top of it. Therefore it was a little special to stand on top of Säuling today. It just had been on my list for so long!

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Just couple of words about the Säuling itself. You can hike if from German side or from Austrian side. Or do like us, and hike if from one country to another. We Started from Pflach in Austria and ended in Füssen in Germany. I did not know that one could take Bayern ticket the whole way to Reute im Tirol and Pflach, so that was a nice surprise 🙂  From Pflach we used 2 hours to Säulinghaus. It is a nice hut to take a small break before the really steep ascent to the Säuling peak. We used 40 minutes from the hut to the peak. The weather was perfect, but we were not sure how much snow there could still be. Luckily there was almost none, because this hike would be very difficult to do with snow.

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After a nice lunch and some selfies on the top, we started our descent to Neuschwanstein. I must say, I did not expect the descent to be so steep and so long. Therefore I recommend to start and end the hike in Pflach instead of hiking down to Neuschwanstein and taking the train from Füssen. That is unless you really want to see the castle. We had already seen the castle plenty of times so in retrospective I think it would have been nice to avoid all the tourist and the super slow train from Füssen to Munich. A map of the route is available on outdooractive here.

Säuling in not the only hike that can be started from Füssen, Branderschrofen is also a nice hike that has a hut and is not as long as Säuling. From Branderschrofen you will also have a very nice view to Säuling. I wrote a small post about it here.

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This was the first hike over 2000m in Germany this year, I’m happy to see there that the season is here and the snow is gone.

PS. My next hike is already planned and will be from Kufstein area, so stay tuned.

 

When you end up on the wrong peak because you spotted a shortcut.

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You stand on the feet of the mountains and you spot an awesome peak. You are sure that this is the one you have planned to hike. After all, it matches with the descriptions or at least you make it match, because it looks so awesome and it is in the right direction 😀 Happy and ignorant you set of to the peak. It gets even better, you spot a shortcut! So you see the peak, you see a possible shortcut and you want to beat the guy in jeans in front of you to the peak! Off course you are going to take the steeper but faster shortcut!

I guess you by now have figured out where this story ends up. So the guy in jeans was actually very clever in following the path, because then he saw that the peak we were heading to was not the right one.

Ending up on a wrong peak, not too bad you say. Well, the problem was not actually that it was the wrong peak, but that the shortcut that we had taken did not let us climb the peak:(  To our defense, it would have been possible during summer. There was even a path to the peak, the problem was the snow. Because you see, what we did not know was that the path we had chosen had too much now on it for safe winter hiking. Now you are thinking how stupid is it possible to be right? Hiking on paths that are not suitable for winter hiking, during winter… No we are not that stupid, it is allays safety first so we turned around when we saw that the path was not safe. Cause  you know it is never to late to turn around.. But this makes this the third hike in a row where I do not make it to the peak!!! Be it the right one or the wrong one 😛 .

Had we followed that guy who hikes in jeans during winter (?!), we had seen the next sign that would have made it clear that we were heading to the wrong peak. We would perhaps also had seen the “normal” path to the (wrong) peak and who knows, perhaps we could have made it to the peak following that path, since that one did not cross a ridge.

There are several morals to this story:

  1. If somethings seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Do not underestimate people who hike in jeans.
  3. Do not get too carried away and forget to check you path with a map, even when you think you are heading in the right direction and you think you see your peak.

Nevertheless, I still consider this as a fun hiking experience and it was really exploring. Belive it or not, it can also be fun getting of the paths and playing around in the snow in the mountains 🙂 Would I do it again?.. no, because I like to make it to the peak!

PS. So the peak we wanted to do was called Lacherspitze (1 724 m)This would have been an easy winter hike of ca. 1000m high meters. The peak we almost did is called Kesselwand (1721m) I would go back for this one, since it did look awesome. Also there seemed to be good ski touring possibilities for beginners in that area so maybe I will go back and try out that too.

Some moments from our exploring:

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True exploring, can you see the excitement in Elias’s face?
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At the end of our shortcut there was a hole in the mountain
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I told you the shortcut was steep 😀

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Btw this weekend was the dav’s alpinflohmarkt and this was what I came back with. No crampons and no ice axe as you can see, but I got something for both summer and winter hiking 🙂

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I will go hiking again tomorrow, and try out some of the stuff I got 🙂

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Already looking for the next peak..

Winter hiking and why I need to buy crampons.

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March as been very busy for me and there has been almost no time for hiking, except for couple of weeks back when we went for a small winter hike. The only requirement this time was to find a hike with an open hut. Kampenwand 1669m was perfect.

Ascent: 1100 hm

Time: ca. 3h up and ca. 2:00h down.

Getting there: Meridian to Prien am Chiemsee (direction Kufstein), then change to RB to Aschau. NB! There are trains only every two hours.

Equipment: You definitely need the following equipment for a successful winter hike:

  • good cloves, water resistant.
  • walking poles
  • thermos
  • sitting pad
  • buff
  • gaiters
  • good waterproof hiking boots and warm clothes.

And now I need to add crampons on the list, because this was the first time I had to turn around because I did not have crampons:( That sucked so much! I was like 100hm from the peak. I could see it, but it got so icy that I did not consider it responsible to even try. It is always safety first! Turning around is not an easy decision to make, not when you really want to get to the peak, but there is brave and there is stupid. Going on without crampons would have been stupid. So we were a group of 5 and 2 of us ( the ones who had crampons) made it to the top. Nevertheless, it was a nice hike. It is always nice to be in the mountains, even when you do not make it to the peak and this experience just made me realize that I need to buy crampons. Perhaps I find some used ones from the upcoming alpin Flohmarkt or just order some online. recommendations are welcome 😉

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As you can see, turning around made sense, when having no crampons.
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This was more or less the place where we decided to turn around.

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I hope to get to do couple of more winter adventures before the spring comes to Bavaria, but let’s see. This weekend I will be off to Barcelona, so no hiking but a lot of tapas 🙂

Sledging in Germany – a serious sport.

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The hut, right before Brünnstein.

Couple of weeks back a friend organized a sledding hike. I had seen Germans walking around with their sledges before, both in the city and in the mountains so I knew that this was an established sport here and not only an activity for kinds. I did not quite understand it thought, and it did seem funny watching adults sledding down a hill. Nevertheless I was ready to try it out!

The hike went to Brünnsteinhaus: – walking up,sledding down.
Ascent: Brünnsteinhaus lies on 1360m and the climb up is 750hm. So an easy and nice hike for winter.

Time: We used ca  2:45h up and 0:45h down. But you can for sure be faster down. Some of the people there really knew what they were dong and were very fast the way down.

Getting there: Take the Meridian to Oberaudorf (direction Kufstein).
If the conditions are ok you could also do the peak: Brünnstein (1619) – another 45-60 minutes. We did the mistake of having a beer on the hut first and after that we just got too lazy, but I saw people doing the peak so it is a possibility, depending on how much snow there is.

The nice thing is that Brünnsteinhaus hut is open also during winter and  you can rent sledges at the hut (5€). I would always recommend to call the hut in advance and ask about the conditions and to make sure that there is enough snow to sledge down. They told us that they had about 60 sledges so unless you are in a very big group you should be able to get a sledge.

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20170219-brunnsteinhaus-kathrin-26Oh man how much fun this was!! On our way up we saw some rather old sledge riders :). They all had such a smile on their faces and their eyes were shining from joy. It really seemed that they had found back to their inner child. Never the less they made me a bit scared, when I saw how fast they were going!

So the excitement was big when we got our sledges and were about to try this out. In the beginning the sledge went crazy fast. I tried to control the speed, but it was almost impossible. So I just drove out from the track into the snow to stop. Then, luckily Elias told me to use my whole feet to break and that made a huge difference! Therefore my tip nr 1: use the whole feet to slow down, not only the heal.

The rest of the way down I was more or less able to control the speed  except in one of the turns where I almost hit a tree 😀 😀 Luckily I jumped of my sledge just in time.

In conclusion I can highly recommend this for everybody, but I would not put any kids on these sledges. They pick up speed extremely fast and you can really injure yourself – as the title says – this is a serious sport! 

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At the end of your ride you just leave the sledge on the roadside, so convenient !
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The view from the hut – can’t complain!

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Hoher Fricken and why you should not stay in the valley.

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Last weekend we did a very nice hike to Hoher Fricken 1940m. For me it is still so strange that here in Germany you can go hiking in the end on November and not meet any snow! Sometimes I miss the snow, especially when seeing all the nice skiing pictures from Norway 😉 but in the other hand it is so nice to be able to hike so late in the year. The air is clearer high up, the sky is more colorful. I also think the mountains are the nicest with some snow on them. To see the white mountain tops in the horizon is just so beautiful. And then there is this magical fog, that often lies in the valleys.

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When we did this hike it was really gray and boring weather in the valley. So I was not expecting to have any view from the peak. After walking for one hour we met the fog, after one more hour we walked out of the fog and got this view.

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This got me thinking, what if I would have stayed down in the valley? I would not even know what I was missing out on! There are too few  opportunities in the year to miss out on some of them. So I am so glad I did not stay down in the vally because no amount of wine on Friday evening would have made up for missing this view. At least not in my oppinion 😉

So the hike we did was the following:

Route: Bahnhof Farchant (670 m) – Kuhfluchtfälle (850 m) – Hoher Fricken (1940 m)

Time: 7 hours, less if you don’t spend a lot of time on the peak.

Assent: 1300 m

Transport: To get there and back you can take a train. Trains leave every hour from Munich.

Once in Farchant, just follow the signs from the train station. It’s not hard to find. In the beginning you go up on a side of a very nice waterfall.

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The trail is really quite steep so be prepared for that. It is 1300 height meters on 6 km. So it is steep. You will see signs that say “Nur fur geübte” which means only for experienced hikes, but in fact the trail is not exposed at all or in any way dangerous. The only hard part is that it is steep so you need to be reasonably fit and ready to sweat a little.

The decent is not that steep. You cross the ridge having a view to Zugspitze and go down on the other side of the mountain.

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On the way down I had to climb this super cool tree. #nevergrowup  and #daretopaly 😉

 

What are your favorite early winter hikes? I am wondering where to go for this weekend 😀 All tips are welcome!