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 🙂

 

Mittenwalder Höhenweg with T-Rex costume!

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Last weekend I joined a quite bad-ass hike; Mittenwalder Höhenweg. Mittenwalder Höhenweg is a via Ferrata over a ridge in Karwendel. There is an option to take a cable car up, but then it would not be a badass would it? So we hiked 1900 hm up from Mittenwald! That is the most height meters I have done during one day, and I must say it was not bad, not bad at all. I did not feel too tired, but I guess it helped that we decided to take the cable car down 😀

Mittenwalder Höhenweg is not an easy hike, unless you take the cable car up that is. There are several options for hiking up. but they all require you to climb 1900 + hm. One option is to follow the trail under the cable car, but this is very steep gravel path. Not much fun in other words. Then there is an option to hike from Scharnitz and over Brunnensteinspitze, this option is doable. We met actually couple of friends in the middle of the hike who came up that way. It is a really nice hike up to Brunnensteinspitze, but it is steep and so when we met them they were already a little tired. You also climb the most height meters following this trail. The third option is to hike from Mittenwald over Brunnsteinhütte. This was the option we chose, and I am happy we did so. This way you have a nice, not too steep, climb in the beginning, and you can have a rest in the hut, some food (btw, they actually had proper coffee, not some instant coffee) and then continue up where the two paths from the hut and from Brunnensteinspitze meet.

Here we had our second break and decided to have fun with a T-rex costume that my friend Haitham had with him:D When he put it on he instantly became a celebrity. It was so much fun! At one point a guy asked us: “What’s wrong with you people? Why would you ever bring a T-rex costume to a hike?” I laughed and answered him: “Because life is only as fun as you are.” He then laughed and wondered where we came from and if we were Erasmus students 😀 I had to disappoint him and reveal that we are all adults who live and work in Munich. Anyways, we got lots of laughs and comments and many cool pictures 😀



PS. We did not do the kletttersteig with the costume of course, we are not crazy either 😉 Haitham , just took it on couple of times for some awesome pictures.

The klettersteig is level A/B so I thought that a klettersteig set is unnecessary, turned out I was the only one in our group who had decided not to bring the equipment. Therefore got a little nervous when I saw all the people coming down fully equipped, but luckily I am pretty good with highs and did not feel a need for a klettersteig set during the hike. BUT don’t get me wrong, Mittelwalder Höhenweg is a proper klettersteig, and there is a reason why most people use the klettersteig set. I just know that on B klettersteigs I normally would not clip in anyways and therefore there is no point of having the set with me. If you are not 120 % conformable with heights, bring your set! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The ridge is fantastic. You go from peak to peak. I am actually not sure how many peaks we crossed in the end. Since it is a via ferrata, we needed to wait for people at times and did some queuing, but I did not mind that, not at all. It only gave me more time to enjoy the view and take pictures.

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The klettersteig was really awesome too. At some parts there were planks you had to walk over,  and there was also a very long ladder which we had to climb down. So much fun!!!

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I think the ridge took us 3 hours, but we were not fast and had breaks to play around with the T-rex costume 😀  During the klettersteig we decided to take the cable car down to save our knees. This meant that we had to be at Karwendelbahn before 6. We were there at 5 and had just enough time to run up to the Westliche Karwendelspitze (2385 m) This was our victory peak! We made it, across the whole ridge and had climbed 1900hm! After a short break and mandatory gipfel beer, we headed down to the cable car. I already then could feel that taking the cable car was the right thing to do. When I finally sat in the cable car and looked at the gravel path under us, I was even happier that we took the cable car, it would just not have been worth the struggle to hike down.

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Karwendelbahn in front of the Östliche Karwendelspitze

I saw some nice mountains during this hike that I will add to my to-do list: Östliche Karwendelspitze and Arnplattenspitze.

I really loved this hike, perhaps this could be your next adventure? Mittenwald is really easy to get to from Munich by train. My friend Anna has made a GPS track of the hike available here (This track still shows that we hike down, but in fact we took the cable car)

Other hikes you can do from Mittenwald are Große Arnspitze and Obere Wettersteinspitze. Obere Wettersteinspitze is one of my favorite hikes, so I really recommend it!

I hoped to go hiking today again, but that did not work out, the weather is just too unpredictable at the moment 😦 So this weekend is going to be a quiet one, but I got the new issue of Bergsteiger yesterday and am looking forward to just relax and read about some awesome mountaineers out there 🙂

Interview with Munich Mountain Girls

Munich Mountain girls is a community started in 2016 by a mountain girl from Munich. Here you can learn to know sporty mountain girls in Munich. You can sit back and get inspired by reading about inside hiking tips, must have hiking gear and girls’ favorite places to hang out in Munich. I was contacted by Christine (the owner of the page) early June for a short interview and was glad to participate.

Now I can officially myself a Munich Mountain Girl. It’s only a label but its a cool one 😉 I also look forward to get to know all the other girls part of the community and to get inspired and to learn from them.

In the interview you can learn about my first experience in the mountains, about my favorite hike until now in Germany, and what I always have in my back bag when I go hiking :).

You can check out Munich Mountain Girls and the interview with me here.

PS. It’s in German, but I am sure Google will help you to translate it 😉

Enjoy.

Last but not least, I want to share a little glimpse of my hiking trip in Norway. I just got back today but I already miss the mountains there. I will write about the hikes in Norway soon so stay tuned 🙂

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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.

 

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 🙂