Caretaking, Outsourced

Winter time is ideal for some caretaking, seeking endless youth for brave little Hector. On the other hand, winter comes with frosty temperatures, leading to: nothing. I turn the engine, but the engine doesn’t turn. So much for my detailed time schedule.

Fortunately, I face the cold season this year with a 50m power cable and a climbing rope. The one leads to the other and leads it down from my balcony, bringing my socket closer to my van. After a night with best green electricity, Hector is fully charged and ready to go.

Up for a health check

The full speed on the highway tells me something about Hector’s yearning for travels. Or about tailwind. Hence, it does not take long until my van is properly parked at the region’s best Fiat garage, while I dream about heated grips on my folded bicycle along the way to the train station.

Waiting

If not for the accurate departure of the S-Bahn that I missed, I would have been back within less than an hour. Still, I am pleased, knowing that Hector gets better maintenance at the Fiat workshop than I could warrant with my own hands. All hoping for travels in 2021!

Wildalpjoch Winter Hike

Winterwonderland is just around the corner! Other than last time (Sep.-Wendelstein-tour), the fresh snow comes with the right quantity. Meadows and rocks are covered with a fluffy layer of sparkling white powder, but with no risk of sinking in thigh-deep. Hence, it is the ideal setting for a relaxed winter hike.

Rising Hiking Stars

Sabine joins me with thorough preparation: gloves, sticks and serious mountain boots found the base of today’s hike. The fairy atmosphere in the lower part of the tour is only slightly disturbed by the low humming of the snow machines of Sudelfeld ski area (making me hum with anticipation).

Caught in Winterwonderland

It takes less than 500m to skip the idea of a defined road map and rather follow the most traceable way. Easy enough, knowing that the Wildalpjoch is one of the most attractive (and frequented) peaks close to the Wendelstein.

Proof in Footsteps: There is Life around us

During ascent and descent, the paths are slippery when wet. Or frozen. Or muddy. Or all three. But thanks to hiking sticks and dancing skills, we get along pretty well and make it to the peak with no severe difficulty.

Achieved!

Despite Sabines firm intension to avoid snow-related mountain action, the two of us enjoy the winterly scenery and the endless views above the clouds.

Looking South

After 4 hours (including peak snack), we get back down in almost the same state as started. Just happier.

Joyful Existence
700m altit. difference7 km3:45 hmostly harmless

Compensating Heights: The No-Travel-Substitute 2020

Hikingthealps
Hiking the Alps
The outstanding Triple-Peak-Tour of the Year: Transcending the Geierköpfe

Months of the strangest year did not stop my yearning for travels. Real travels, with different places to go und foreign people to meet. Yet, I am lucky to live in a region that attracts tourists for one or another reason, and I take advantage of it as much as possible.

Hiking the Alps Chiemgau
July: Heuberg, Karkopf, Karspitze

Of course, you could take this as travel inspiration: Any of the mountain tours shown here may tempt you to spend precious holiday time between Munich and the Alps. Me, instead, I have to deal with an insulted van (with only 3 nights out, Hector feels entirely left behind), but at least I can look back on 13 hikes from July to October.

July/August: Geigelstein, Schwarzenberg, Hirschberg

Having crossed off most of the tours of my hiking books, I will look for online inspiration and continue with outdoor action throughout the winter.

Hiking the Alps
August/September: Scheinbergspitze, Torkopf, Wendelstein

For today, I happily present a quick glance on tours No. 1-13, also known as my holiday-substitute 2020.

Lovehiking
October: Rabenkopf, Gedererwand, Kranzhorn

The list of all Hiking-the-Alps tours is presented here => Overview.

Brünnstein: Black Hike or light-blue Via Ferrata?

Experts recognize the Rock Formation: Brünnstein Peak

2020 modern times come with neither party nor concert, no random encounter nor further excitement – hence, best practice is to find attractive destinations during weekends. With the warm sun laughing  at November bias, today’s target is the Brünnstein.

Barbara joins and proudly presents her brand new via ferrata equipment: harness, loops, carbines and helmet. It will turn out that we are entirely over-equipped, but at least we look adventureous like hell.

#Hikingthealps; Hiking the Alps, #Brünnstein
Approaching Brünnsteinhaus

The route is a wonderful mixture of steep paths, relaxed forest roads and green meadows. And not all of it is muddy.

#hikingthelaps #wanderlust
Up to wider Horizons

Despite the early snow we had a couple of weeks ago, November starts with short-sleeve temperatures. Just like the fixed-rope sets, the downy jackets serve our fitness as we carry them up and down in our backpacks.

Fixed Steel Ropes, yet the Via Ferrata comes with no Difficulty at all

For whatever which reason it takes longer than expected to reach the Brünnsteinhaus. We pause for a moment and gain back some of the burnt calories when plundering our backpacks. The regular restaurant service is closed (Covid19 rules), but the sunny terrace offers tables and chairs and even beer or juice thanks to the installed beverage dispenser.

Intresting Route

Ahead of the lodge, the “Dr. Julius Mayr” via ferrata leads to the summit. It is a charming trail as it includes iron steps, climbing passages and cavity. All easy enough, but fun nonetheless.

Choice of the Day: Barbara, the Via Ferrata, the Alps

What I like best are the exposed paths that make you feel lightweight and offer wide horizons from a bird’s eye perspective.

Sensation along the Way: Being aware of the Nothingness right in front of the Feet

The Brünnstein peak is in reach for hikers free from giddiness, meaning: us. And about a dozen more…

Hikingthealps; #Bruennstein
Another Ridge of a Summit

I can hardly imagine how crowded this spot must be in high season. At least you will always find a good photographer for splendid summit portraits!

Bruennstein
Another Success for the most irresistible Peak Queens

Eventually, we start our descent with some steel ropes on the steep upper part of the trail. The more height we lose, the more we witness a change in scenery: Climbing rocks give way to lush pastures and forests. The setting is very rural as for the entire route the only prominent signs of civilization are some alpine shacks.

Rural Region

Along the way we detect quite some road signs that mark further tempting destinations. Looks like we might come back for more someday…

865m altit. difference<13 km5:15 hchallenging

Clamber About

…then one Saturday morning…

The crone of civilization is futility: Climb up straight walls with no use or sense, just for the sheer fun of it. And, of course, for good company, sunshine and body tension.

Almost there!

The weekend before November locks in, any place close to the Alps faces piles of cars and people, hikers and families. Hence, it is a perfect day for the last climbing possibility before they close down. Even though the outer walls of “High East” count less then 18m, we enjoy rays of sun and have a narrow wall all for ourselves.

Around noon, we feel the satisfaction of muscle soreness in arms, scapula and fingers – well done for rookies like us!

Hopefully we will not lose all the smooth routine of today’s difficulty levels… I would rather continue with overhanging routes or alpine scarps to climb, but for the time being, we will need to restore our equipment in the closets and wait for flattened curves and re-opened climbing gyms.

Most Charming, Easy Tour: Kranzhorn

Kranzhorn double-cross-peak

Based on my general interest in science, I am curious what will happen when inviting a Flachlandtiroler (hiking rookie from low-level-areas) to a hiking tour in the Alps. At the edge of the Alps, to be more precise.

Splendid Pictures: always an Option. As soon as I find Someone who volunteers to clean my Windshield…

My favourite hiking book “Zeit zum Wandern – Chiemgau” offers a blue tour with a real summit and wide views towards the main Alps. Viola is all up for it and we buzz with anticipation, hardly able to wait until sunrise to jump in the car and get going.

Kitsch meets Natural Beauty

We start easy on forest roads, passing by several pastures, all beneath one of those skies that exist only in the short transition from summer to autumn. The surrounding is charming and we appreciate the clear air and the pure feeling of being here.

Best to be done around 8:00 a.m.

We forget about time and place, yet it must have been merely an hour until we reach the Kranzhorn-Alm. We are just in time to jump out of the way as the delivery truck arrives, carrying the alp’s staff to their working place and fresh victuals to the kitchen. Generously, we grant them some time to prepare their hospitality and continue towards the summit.

Hiking is such a step-by-step-thing

The last section of the tour is a bit more challenging, at least with wet and slippery grounds added by stormy wind, blowing us apart (or trying to). But then it is great, leaning against the squalls and dancing with the storm or the cross or both.

#hikingthealps; Hiking the Alps, Chiemgau
Double Cross at Kranzhorn

Coming back to the scientific test of foreign visitors and how they react on height and rocks, it is stunning to witness the development. From the Westerwald to the Alps, all you need is something to hold on to. Then, all of a sudden, joy and lightness set in.

First

but then!

Having the peak all for ourselves, we enjoy the view as long as we bare the storm. The morning mist still covers the valleys while the alpine glaciers shimmer in the distance. It certainly differs from hiking routines in Pfalz, Taunus or Westerwald.

Hiking the Allps
Outlook

Eventually, we call it coffee time and get served with wonderful delicacies at the Kranzhorn-Alm.

Coffee in Sight

By the time when dozens of families + umpteen hikers shuffle in, we are already on our feet, ready for the descent.

This has been the most charming of the blue tours I have done lately and it is best to start it way ahead of regular hiking crowds.

350m altit. difference8 km< 3 hoursharmless
Viola, now hiking pro!

Black (tour) and White (snow): Gedererwand

Zwölferturm, Hiking the Alps
Summary: Foggy Forests, Interesting Trails, Rocks and Cliffs

Mid October, muddy and slippery grounds, unmarked paths and climbing elements. Sounds like a good way to spend a Sunday morning!

Chiemgau
Not the Hardest Part

Around 9:00 a.m., I start fresh and relaxed at Hintergschwendt. The appearance of the area suits the sound of “Hintergschwendt“: rural, with jingling cows and autumn leaves.

The Setting

Only a minor part of the ascent is easy and stable, most of it is either muddy-slippery or steep-stony-slippery. With the route sometimes hard to find, and, once found, hard to remain upright, it is perfect to leave work and daily life behind. What I need for the next hours is concentration, tracking instincts and top-of-the-hill hiking boots (check, check and check).

Hiking the Clouds

The weather is indecisive today, meandering between clouds, fog and sun. The tour via North/East to Gedererwand is not frequented, but creates an almost mystic atmosphere. The rough surfaces of the rocks along the way, the dark green and light brown of the autumn forest, it all fits perfectly in the scenery.

This is the path.
Really.

The pictures show the rocks when standing right in front. Yes, it is about getting up there in the most vertical way.

When I approach the announced climbing passage (easy, category I-II), it is interesting, but not difficult. All along the ascent, there are quite some sections where the hands may support the feet – reassuring me that such a black tour is exactly what I like best. Even more with dry grounds beneath and bright skies above, yet best practice beats best conditions.

Today’s Conditions

After 2,5 hours I make it to the summit of Gedererwand and – having outperformed a mid-sized hikers’ group – find the cross all deserted, waiting for the peak queen of the day.

#gedererwand
Gedererwand Peak

I use the privacy for a change into a dry t-shirt and patiently wait for my photographers to arrive.

#hikingthealps #gedererwand Hiking the Alps #chiemgau
Tadaa! (“Ich bin schon da!”, sagte der Igel)

A pause of 25 minutes is enough for Gipfelsemmel-Vesper, chats among hikers and for the sun to make it through the clouds. Right in front, the Kampenwand unveils with it’s famous silhouette. I can tell by the umpteen people I will pass by during my descent that it must be overcrowded despite the snow and the cold.

Kampenwand
Chiemgau. Kampenwand. Winterwonderland.

The ascent has taken slightly more time than planned, mostly due to the rough terrain. Now, the further I get on my descent, the more I can accelerate. The ways are harmless and in less then 1,5 hours, I am back at my starting point and wonder about the almost infinite rows of parked cars. Lucky me that I have such a propensity for interesting tours, sorting out the sneaker-strollers and lowland tourists along my way.

above, ahead, anice perspective
650m altit. difference7,7 km4 hourschallenging

Relaxed Autumn Tour: Rabenkopf

Another Sunday enfolds with rays of sun and distant mountain silhouettes. Being blessed with quite some hike-able friends, all I have to do is place my cup of coffee in Sabine’s car and get moved towards Benediktbeuern.

Heading towards Rabenkopf

Destination of the day is the Rabenkopf, situated at the edge of the Bavarian Alps, 1.555m high. Forest roads ease the start into the tour, but not before long we follow others onto a shortcut, leading us on rough grounds and steep gradient. Consequently, it does not take long until we reach the Orterer Alm. The alp might offer refreshments throughout summer, while in October all it presents is rural atmosphere and some benches.

Hiking in good Company

We continue and join the Girgl-Fischer-Weg, all through idyllic forests. The ways may not be spectacular, but relaxed and nice enough.

Girgl-Fischer-Weg: steep or not steep, but always uphill

Within less than two hours, we reach the cross that marks the Pessenbacher Joch. Some other hikers are around, but by no means is it crowded or dense. Nature, meditational trails and more nature frame our passages.

Hiking the Alps; Wanderlust
Approaching Pessenbacher Joch

Summit crosses attract me like athletic men or good food: I can hardly pass them by without getting close. Even more, peak crosses motivate me to take at least half a dozen of pictures, sparkling with joy about the successful ascent, based on nothing but strong will and muscle power.

#hikingthealps
Pessenbacher Joch and: yay!

For the next 20 minutes, we go separate ways. I choose the trail to the right with more altitude-difference than distance. Furthermore, it comes with some almost-climbing-parts to intensify the mountain experience.

Looking down to Orterer Alm

Being all concentrated and focused on the trail’s pitfalls, I forget to take pictures of the via ferrata-like iron steps that mark the last meters below the peak… Still, it is great as the destination finally comes in sight and I hurry up to reach the Rabenkopf summit before further crowds appear.

#rabenkopf
Rabenkopf Summit Cross (+ decoration)

Free space is limited and quite some hikers gather around the cross. There is an alternative way coming up from Jachenau, and it seems to be more famous than our route. However, we sit comfortably distanced among others, join some chats and enjoy being here.

Our descent includes a coffee stop at the Staffel-Alm. Again, we find ourselves in the good company of all kinds of outdoor people who soak in the mild temperatures, sun and deserted meadows.

Nothingness in a good way

After six hours (including Gipfelsemmel and coffee break), we are back down and happy with the tour, adding 2 more crosses to my list. The extra cross of Pessenbacher Joch is the bonus that equals the missed (blocked) one from last week’s hike on Wendelstein.

900m altit. difference12-13 km5 hmostly harmless

A Snowy Summer’s Day: Wendelstein

7:50 a.m.: Destination ahead

Rain and cold frame the last September weekend, but still Sunday enfolds with blue skies and sun – at least close to the Alps. Consequently, I have chosen another peak for today. With only 2°C and the utmost flexibility, I skip the foreseen trail from the North side and instead approach the Wendelstein from the South.

The way up starts relaxed and picturesque and if not for the drop in temperature, it could be taken for a bright summer morning.

Mellow Start

Apart from faint church bells and the cattle around, I am alone and enjoy all kinds of paths. I pass by the most inviting mountain guesthouse and make a mental note to myself to stop for coffee and cake along the descent. Isn’t it great to make plans these days?

So inviting

Gaining height by the minute, the landscape starts to change. The first spots of fresh snow almost look romantic. Yet, the trail is easy enough and I continue with the routine of an experienced hiker (image! it is all about image!!).

Hiking the Alps: Wendelstein
Such much lovely

I am about half way up when two hiker ladies with more speed then youth pass me by. Not before long I will appreciate them for smoothing the paths ahead of me…

Hikingthealps
Seasonal change along the Way

Meanwhile, I congratulate myself for having tucked the hiking sticks in my backpack. I will definitely need them on my way down, with all the fresh snow that starts to thaw in the September sun. Fortunately, the disreputable silhouette of the Wendelstein summit seems already close, so (of course) it is not preferable to give up just because of 5 or 10 or 30 cm of snow.

Wendelstein
Nice, but…

Eventually, the snow gets deeper. The peak remains at unchanged distance, though. The hiking ladies in front discuss whether they turn around or continue. I am grateful for the sole hiker that has paved the slightest hint of a trail earlier today (I will meet him later and thank him – cool guy).

When looking back, the strangest sensation happens: after some acres of snowy fields, the eye falls on green grass and summer scenes. It all looks like fake news from a photoshop-mistake.

Hiking the Alps
Surreal

Every now and then and every more often, one of the footsteps drowns deep in cold snow, making me sink up to the mid of my thighs. It is one of those moments that I re-adjust my plans from “sunny café” via “hiking sticks” to the final decision “cableway”.

Fresh Snow. And quite a bit of it…

Who would have thought that Grödel (crampons) would be needed by the end of September already? However, the snow transforms a formerly simple hike into an expedition. If not for the trees, it would even match the high pass in the Himalaya!

Looks like high Alps in February – while in fact it is on 1.500m in September

With the Wendelsteinhaus already in sight, the last half hour puts me to the test. Steep, very steep terrain, topped by 30cm of fresh snow, meet the silly pride that prevents me from taking out my hiking sticks.

The first time I slip and fall back is funny. The second time still makes me laugh out loud. The third is okay, while the fourth (and every further) makes me clench my teeth and murmur something like “I will NOT turn around at this point, certainly not!”

…hmpf…

And then, three hours after I have started down in the spring-area, I am there: on the peak (more true: the sub-peak platform), ahead of disdainful cableway tourists, among all the concrete and antennas that the Wendelstein is infamous for. The very last section is closed because of ice and snow, which is sad, like in the song “no cross today, my love has gone away, lalala-lalalah…”.

Almost there!

I make it to the viewing platform before it gets entirely overcrowded and picture the scenery. The cliché of winterly mountains alternate with unexpected green meadows, blanketed from the distant rows of Alpine summits, all white and icy.

#Hiking the Alps
Looking towards Sudelfeld and further Peaks

The gastronomic side of Wendelstein reflects the landscape with ups (friendly cook, highest prices) and downs (general atmosphere, mood of most staff members). However, none of it matters given the endorphins that buzz in my veins. I love challenging ways, at least those I win.

Yeah – made it!

Neither the upper part of the peak nor the church are accessible thanks to the spontaneous onset of winter. It is a bit of a pity as I prefer touristic method acting at such a hotspot and now feel terribly limited in my role. Still, I am fine when hovering down in the gondola around noon, happy with the 10th mountain tour of the year.

1.000m altit. difference5,5 km3 hoursharmless (except for the snow meeting the steep)

Straighten up and Climb right

With every week, I gain back more and more of my sporty life. Lately, hiking has shown a wonderful development – and now I go for more, leading the direction towards vertical ascents.

It starts with a dear friend and a call: What about a climbing session? Outside walls of our favourite climbing hall, finally trying out all the new equipment I gathered?

Yes to Climbing!

It is the first time since… February? Hence, we start right away with trial over trial how to get the right knot in my brand-new rope. It takes us less then 15 minutes and there we go: up and up and hands over feet, head over heels, with a smiling face towards the sun.

All it takes…

I used the passive months for active shopping: a rope that suits our outfits, and, completing silly-but-senseful things: climbing glasses. The carnivalesque frame with a 45/90° prism makes you look up while looking straight. My neck, the intervertebral disk and my shoulders remain relaxed and so does the friend on the wall, remaining in full view even at 15m height.

The hardest Part: Get the Rope into the Snap Hook (without falling down)

I might have missed a bright day in the Alps, but got rewarded with wonderful company and the sensation of flying high. Once I grow up, I will take care to work less and have more of such fun days!