At 6:45 sharp I turn the engine and Hector turns right. The toughest tour so far starts with washed air and the Alps reaching out to Hector and the hikers inside.
In Hammersbach we hop on the cog railway and jump off at the upon-demand-stopp Riffelriss. The train disappears inside the tunnel to the Zugspitzplatt and we are left behind, starring at the closed tunnel portal. In the opposite direction we look down at the Eibsee – a view that will continue all the way up to the southern peak of the Riffelspitze.
After a nice and easy start on small paths through pines and larchs, we reach open terrain and loose rubble. With my professional super trekking shoes and carbon sticks, I am fine with the rough materials – even more as the scratches from closer-than-planned contact with the surrounding heal wonderfully. Lucky us that my hiking buddy of the day is in best condition, coping easily with the 1-step-up-3/4-steps-down rhythm. Later on our way up, steel cables enable a better grip and may be the evidence for even steeper trails.
The encounter of two shirtless hiking boys (exercise more, but thanks already) marks another change of landscape: no path, but rock face and a constant steel rope invite us up to the Riffelscharte. Up there we find ourselves on a high plateau and continue over the the ridge towards the Riffelspitze. The side that looks down to the Eibsee is a straight wall of a cliff and helps you to find out about being free from giddiness (or not).
The last 50 meters up to the peak have neither path nor trail and it is fun to find out where to place your hand first before lifting one foot to further positions. It is more climbing than walking and all worth it.
Someone has built a simple cross at the peak and we have the small spot all for the two of us. The view (once more) is fantastic: around 1.100 m below us is the Eibsee with its typical islands and green-blue water. At the left is the Zugspitz-Massif and looks impressive over the short distance. Turning round, we find the Höllentalangerhütte (850m down).
Reaching the Höllentalangerhütte is just a question of time, but a serious one. Steep paths, pebbles and rubble, some parts supported by steel ropes and all of it reminds us that 1.500m altitude difference are more than a relaxed promenade. When reaching the alp, I am happy that it has become rare that my feet hurt with every step I take. The way from the peak has been longer than expected, but this is nothing that coffee, a 60-minutes-break and some food could not fix.
From the alp down to Hammersbach leads the way through the sensational Höllental-Klamm. I am grateful that I had seen it last year early in the morning, having the aggressive beauty of the roaring water all for ourselves. Today, we have to share the views and the paths with masses of tourists and prefer time over quality.
A snapshot here, a quick photo there and within minutes we leave the gorge behind and hop down the forest road to Hammersbach. Hector is happy to have the crew back on board: the evening is fine for some van-care, rinsing some cleaning elixir through the water system.
The next morning comes up with severe muscle soreness and a sparkling, ready-to-roll Hector. Regretful, I store all hiking accessories in my closet. I wonder what I will do in Sweden next week, missing the hills and the hiking routine. Well, time will tell…