Zwieselberg Skitour – More Adventure than Planned

Zwiesel 1

Zwiesel may come in different forms. Red wine glasses, white wine glasses and a mountain in the South of Bad Tölz, Bavaria.

Zwiesel 2 = Zwieselberg

Being a smart person means to chose the easiest of all ski tours from Rother Skitourenführer Bayerische Alpen. After 15 tours on slopes of all kind, I move on into the wild and, smart as hell, go for the Zwieselberg.

All easy in the lower parts of the ascent

Being adventurous brings in some spice. Especially when following obvious ski traces and realizing too late that they lead into the wrong direction (option A, remediated by a 10 minutes uphill intermezzo) or into a steep hiking path in the forest (option B). Due to my book, there must be a third option, but that one did not cross my path.

Pretty Views after 90 mins.

On my way up, everything is fine for the time being: Unpredicted sun shines on corn snow, few other hikers or ski tourers are around and the storm has not yet reached it’s full strength.

Happy on top

When I reach the cross of Zwieselberg, a half dozen of hikers lingers around the peak and reacts slightly irritated when seeing my skis. The few (4, in total) other ski tourers that passed my by (full-speed) in the lower areas are long gone now, and rather sooner than later I will wonder where they managed their descent.

How to get down a tiny path through the forest?

Now, being all back and safe, I can confirm that I have special skills in getting stuck between two conifer trees. And I am for sure one of very, very rare persons who succeeded the trial path on the way down. Then, after what felt like 200m altitude difference on steep terrain with tight trees, I sincerely regret not having taken a picture of the steel staircase. Like the cherry on the cake, just when the trial path hits the creek, a staircase with icy steps marks an ultimate end to my skiing abilities. Where are the paparazzi when the situation would lure into a perfect snapshot of unperfect mountain sports?

Further down, I meet two hikers with stunned looks when noticing my skis and the direction I come from. Due to them, I must have been the first crazy freak who tried the toughest way down. However, later today, I have found out that there even is a recommendation by “planet outdoor” for this route, mentioning nonchalant “carry the skis over the metal stairs”.

If this was meant to be the descent – why has not a single ski tourer been witnessed here?

Taking all possibilities into consideration, I am not convinced of Zwieselberg being a ski tour-paradise. The joyful passages on snowy meadows make a mere 10% of the entire descent, at least from a timing perspective.

Still, I am happy about my Sunday adventure and will certainly try out further ski tours into the wild “Voralpen”!

620m altit. differencesome km4h (up: 2h)challenging

Skitour Stümpfling

December… Approaching Christmas and Lockdown threats, skies are grey and the mood… is splendid once we reach Spitzingsee, where rain turns into snow.

First ski-tour this winter for me, first ski-tour ever for the wise sister. Just great to be out here, surrounded by other crazy outdoor freaks and happy with fresh snow beneath our skis!

Facts of the tour: internet data results into 365 m altitude difference. But why trust anonymous internet sites when you can ask foreign guys at the Jagahüttn? “…must be around 1.600-1.700 m, black and challenging tour, great achievement!”

Schönfeldhütte: More Snow than Expected

The first winter hike of the year always comes as a surprise. This November weekend 2021 offers autumn sun and almost perfect conditions – if not for the out-of-the-blue white stuff all around Spitzingsee.

Winter has arrived at Spitzingsee

Of course, I arrive at Spitzingsattel in light hiking shoes and summer clothing. What else to expect on a bright, sunny day?! Yet, my summer shoes work pleasingly well on icy ground, making me start the tour light-hearted. And without realizing the wrong direction I take right from the parking lot.

The forest path of the first passage is well marked and supposed to be my retour. Still, it brings me closer to my desired destination, the Jägerkamp-peak. It’s cross becomes visible as soon as I leave the forest behind and approach the Schönfeldhütte. There even is a sign towards a vague direction “Jägerkamp: 1h”. Half an hour later, after some back and forth trials, I realize: a) that I have reached a point only 5 minutes away from the Alm. And, b), that landmarks or painted dots (signposts) are buried under 30 cm of finest fresh snow.

Beautiful, but…

I look around and spot a handful other hikers. Each one seems to face the same dilemma: looking for the right way towards the summit, losing time over time in the snow.

Eventually, it is the temptation of food and coffee offered by Schönfeldhütte (open in all seasons) that makes me abbreviate today’s hike. I make a mental note for the Jägerkamp becoming an upcoming target, then hop down to the Alm.

Nice Outlook, after all

I share a table in the sun with a gentle guy from Slovakia and he shares his knowledge about the right way to the Jägerkamp (turns out that I have been wrong all along). For the time being, I have no regrets: 2,5 hours in beautiful surrounding, with rays of sun and sparkling white snow – peak or no peak, I have a wonderful time with probably the last hike of the year.

Now that the Snow is here, anyway – Could we please arrange steady layers over all of my favourite ski tour regions?

Staffel Hike (Jachenau)

Jachenau / Isarwinkel

Another hike with another friend. Who would have guessed (not me, certainly) that I would manage to meet sports buddies rather than bar / culture / other friends? Especially when being back in the “Super-Working-Trap”: Eleven months mark an overwhelming lean period between the last holiday and the next, even worse as travelling has lost some of its lightness for an undefined period of time.

View on Isar / Sylvenstein

Typical for October, temperatures vary from frozen to t-shirt-warmth, depending upon sun and southern vs. northern flanks. The length of today’s tour, instead, depends upon orientation and rare road signs. We manage to sort out the first half just right, or at least most of it. Forest roads, paths and rare outlooks keep us busy and uphill for a bit less than two hours, until we almost stumble out of the woods and over the peak’s cross. Far from being the most impressive peak of the Alps, the Staffel’s cross is almost hilariously huge.

The way down starts promising and mostly sunny. About half way down, an unmarked crossing lurs us into a deviation of a mere 5 km before we get back to our starting point. Hence, we get a bit more sun and walking distance than foreseen by the easy tour, summing up 14 instead of the planned 9 km. Still, it has been a nice and easy hike and before we leave the Jachenau valley, we ensure to fill up precious calories in the cafés along the way.

How it feels after a 5 km detour…
800m altit. difference14 km4:20 hharmless

Stripsenjoch via Feldberg / Kaisergebirge

Early Morning at Griesner Alm

The wrong turn right at the start leads to a tour that is not entirely, but almost, unlike the planned one. But, lucky girl that I am, the unexpected variance of a hike is a win: all sunny and with fantastic views between Wildem Kaiser and Zahmen Kaiser.

Autumn Hike

For maximum training effects, I carry all the via ferrata stuff along the way: snaphooks, helmet and all other safety equipment. It weighs about umpteen pounds or a ton or close to. Aiming to lighten my backpack, I have left the hiking sticks down at the parking, something that seemed a good idea about an hour ago. With the steep paths up and the stony paths down, they would have been quite useful along the way, but with the given facts, I still have the option to ignore aching knees or tired muscles.

Outlook from today’s first Peak

The only complaint – if any – is about the Stripsenjochhaus. Somewhere between Feldberg and Wiesensattel, I start dreaming of Austrian food. I even visualize how I will stretch out my legs with a cup of coffee and glutenfree cake. Truth is that the crew of Stripsenjochhaus has decided to close down early this year, and there is no such thing as a cook awaiting hungry guests.

Feldberg, Kaisergebirge

After all, flexibility is a matter of planning. Having parked Hector at Griesner Alm (closed as well, of course), means that it only takes 20 minutes to Camping Steinplatte with it’s approved qualities: friendly service, hot showers and a solid restaurant.

Stripsenjoch, obviously a Popular Peak

Later that evening I resume that Covid19 has changed my habits: The money I have spent previously for bars, clubs, concerts and theater now flows into sporty activities and camping. Either way, there is more to life than just work or lockdown.

“Herbst ist nicht kalt.” sagt mein Hector
950m altit. difference9 km4:15 hmostly harmless

Via Ferrata Steinplatte: Schuastagangl-Steig

…then one Friday afternoon…

Another weekend brings sun and warmth, at least during daytime. No wonder that Hector talks me into another trip towards the Alps, this time even abroad. We detect Camping Steinplatte, a likely campsite with premium lavatories and relaxed atmosphere.

Waking up on Camping Steinplatte

Caused by maximum spontaneity, I have left a couple of things behind. Such as the hiking map of the region, and also Fred, my expedition sleeping bag (rescue from the cold down to -42°C). Fortunately, the cold is a mild one this night and the two summer blankets are enough to keep it cozy and warm.

I love those Early Morning Perspectives, waking up with Hector

Saturday morning starts promising. Turning on Hector’s heating enables me to get used to the expected summer temperatures. Besides, it feels incredibly luxury. I am well aware that others might starve in the cold while I enjoy comfy breakfast with homemade coffee and a humming gas heating.

Today’s Destination: Steinplatte

The rest of the day is fun and joy and mountains: Hector takes the toll road under his tires, all up to Steinplatte-parking. Along the way, he proves once more that he is a veritable Rennsau (formula 1-like-moving-item). At 9:05 a.m., I start my walk towards Stallenalm, then Grünwaldalm and then finally to the beginning of the via ferrata Schuastagangl-Steig.

Guess today comes with an uphill route…

After the easy-peasy hikes and via ferrata trials of the past, today’s route is a good one. Interesting, even. And despite few others being either ahead of me or behind, I do neither hear nor see anyone during the entire steel rope section. I have the entire challenge all for myself.

Ready for the Challenge ahead

Given the solitude as well as my general, very rational mindset, I leave out the detour marked with “difficult, really difficult” and rather continue straight forward on the original route.

The regular part

Once having stepped into the via ferrata, it becomes as simple and pure as can be: just follow the steel ropes, mostly in a vertical direction. The view gets more and more spectacular while I forget entirely to think about work, to-do-lists or other duties. The klicks of the snap-hooks and the search for good grip in the rocky wall, that is all that counts here and now.

This is why I call it a Good Tour

Hardly an hour later, I come to a point where I try and try and re-try for what seems endless (about 5 minutes), sorting out how to get over a tricky passage. Pausing and thinking about the best approach makes me realize that I am really hungry by now. I hope that the peak is not far anymore, and lose focus with a couple of braincells that start dreaming of a well-prepared summit-snack…

Seven minutes later, I am there. All it takes is a bit of body tension: A step to the right, a slight swing to the left, then a pull from the arms and a push from the left toes and there I am, up on the Steinplatte.

All great up here

The scattered hikers around ask me why I radiate with exuberant happiness. Seems like my joy is visible, including the sun, the view, the tour and the challenge. Or, more probable, the sensation of finally getting my peak snack.

Kaisergebirge

Walking down is the relaxed part, even hilarious. Not because of the moaning children or oversized parents carried up by the cableway. Not even because of the asphalted ways and the obtrusive visibility of ski lifts and snow cannons. It is due to the “Triassic Park” and it’s papier mâché objects – and due to the fact that they pretend to talk to their audience.

Yes. Seriously.

Eventually, I make it down to the Stallenalm for a final cup of coffee before I head back home. The tour kept me busy and focused for less than three hours, yet the holiday feeling of the weekend will stay for a little while.

Beauty, after all
510m altit. diff.few km2:45 hvia ferrata: mostly harmless

Pfänder and the reunion of the Elite

We count the 15th year of alumni encounters, the big revival of the best controlling team ever.  This time, we come together on top of the Pfänder.

<<Ist die Last auch nicht zu schwer für dich?>> <<Keine Ursache, Chef, ich helf doch gern.>>

The tough ones go up and enjoy the physical challenge. The rest will join later, wasting not a single drop of sweat when using the cable car.

…fehlt da nicht was??
Ah, jetzt!

The simple path leads up through shady forest with wonderful views over the Bodensee every now and then. After all, we reach the Pfänder peak after 1:15h, all easy and stressless.

The View. The Lake.

Waiting for the rest of the team is the hard part. We linger around the peak’s cross as long as we can, then settle down on the terrace and start to celebrate our yearly reunion.

The sporty ones

Eventually, the other colleagues make it, and we can start discussing professional topics. Strange enough, whenever I bring up the question of the partial reflexion of photons on H2O molecules, no vivid exchange enfolds…

With the squeeze of delayed arrival and the upcoming evening agenda, we take a final picture and start our descent in time.

Pfänder Outlook

The main part of our meeting takes place at Ravensburg – a cute, still a bit boring city, about half an hour from the lake’s shore. Lucky us, the restaurant scene has added Syrlin Speisenwelt with the wonderful Kostbar just recently. Food and wine are excellent and the mood is as good as ever. Five thirty-somethings share professional and personal interest as well as a certain sense for enjoyment. If only they had a Glitzerkeller or Stereobar in Ravensburg, that would bring us back to early years…

…then during a joyful evening…

In the end, we are safe and – relatively – early back at the hotel. The good thing of a closed-down downtown and an obstructive barkeeper is the reasonable, low level of alcohol (a big “Thank you!” goes to Kai, the non-profit guy from the Aurum-Bar).

ca. 600m altit. diff.7 kmca. 2hharmless

3-Peaks Cross-Over: Notkarspitze

Starting Point Ettal

Sometimes the few-lines-tour-description does not come close to the sensation along the way. What sounds like a medium tour for a relaxed Saturday turns out a 3-peak-cross-over-hike.

Later, when we Look back on it, it will All Seem Easy

Unsurprisingly, Gunther is the hiking buddy of the day – whenever he joins, unforeseen summits (such as Ochsensitz or Ziegelspitze) come along. Fortunately, I am not easy to convince and keep to my expectation that the next peak in sight must be today’s destination of a summit.

First in a row is the Ochsensitz, passed by casually when taking the right path at an unmarked fork.

Almost hidden along the Way: Ochsensitz = No. 1

No. 2 = Ziegelspitze

It is only when we reach the Ziegelspitze cross that I have to admit: nice here, but not Notkarspitze. It is a pity, but then it is a good place for a snack with a view just the same.

We leave Ziegelspitze behind, appreciating the multifaceted paths, getting more and more of an open view on the surrounding landscape. The hilly landscape with ups and downs and ridges, to be more precise. It dawns on me that we need to conquer it all: the saddle we are on, the mountain we see ahead to the left, and then all the way up to the more distant peak straight ahead. It must be around here when Gunther drops a word about being happy that I have proposed the tour, meaning that I cannot blame him for the efforts we face.

…then Further along the Way…
Walking up the Ridge is always a Good Idea

Eventually, we get there. Once settled down with a Gipfelsemmel, I regain forces quickly. Full of energy, new plans come up. Let’s take the most steep way down! We are young, we are strong, we can ignore the skeptical thoughts of the others. Before we leave, it is time to get back to handstand skills. Obviously, you should exercise every now and then if aiming for a vertical form…

#hikingthealps #lovehiking #handstand Hiking the Alps #travelbritta #travelhector
No. 3 = Notkarspitze in Various Perspectives

The way down is the most steep descent of all tours so far. In the end, I clench my teeth while I feel every nerve in my feet, every movement in my knees and every inch of altitude that we lose. Three minutes later, we are there: The Ettaler Mühle welcomes us with coffee, cold beverages and a rural choice of food.

Steep flanks on the Northern Side

The last passage back to the parking is nothing less than the ultimate proof of fitness: 3:05h up + 2:10h down have not brought us down. We beat the proposed 45 minutes by far, heading back to the car in a mere 25 minutes. Guess I have become a mountain-speed-snail after all.

1.100m altit. difference<14 km5:35 hmostly harmless

Opposite Peaks: Brecherspitz and Bodenschneid

No explanation available. Except, perhaps, for the pictures and the scenery.

This is why

Hard to tell why I go up to the top, then down, then up again. Sweating, sometimes swearing, either alone or in company. Knowing that hiking the Alps always leads to good company. Those who share the same wacky lust for mountain paths are always good for a little chat here or a tour-recommendation there, mostly likeable.

Path following the Ridge up to the Brecherspitz
Taking a closer Look

Starting smart and early, I make my way over the ridge towards the Brecherspitz at 9:00 a.m. Far from being the first, I find myself surrounded by a group of 60-something-guys and a cloud of flying ants. The latter can be beaten successfully by an overdose of citronella spray.

Up for a Concert

My Gipfelsemmel is accentuated by an Alpine concert. As Bergfex as can be, one of the mountain enthusiasts stands up and starts yodeling, leaving me stunned with goose bumps on my arms. Never had I guessed that yodeling can sound so sweet and charming! What comes next is a heartful song, again with the uttermost talent and just perfect on this exposed peak, high above the civilized world.

Happy on Top

No further motivation needed for my douple peak challenge! Leaving about 50% of the peak’s height behind, I reach the Obere Firstalm at 10:00 a.m. Too early for lunch, but a good time for the second part of the tour.

See the peak to the right? Next Stop Bodenschneid!

Despite the 28° C reached by now, I head up for the Bodenschneid, sole peak with view on all 3 lakes around: Tegernsee, Schliersee, Spitzingsee.

Almost there in almost 30°C

I have been here before, fortunately. This time, I am exhausted, paying few attention to the outlook. I rather try to sit in the tiny shadow thrown by the peak’s cross, regaining forces for the second descent.

The strangest of all peak crosses: Bodenschneid

Only yesterday, it seemed reasonable to add the Bodenschneid to the Brecherspitz-tour, facing the fact that 500-something-meters altitude difference are way below my possibilities. Now I wonder when and in which state I will reach the Obere Firstalm, aiming for shadow even more than for a light meal.

…then on my way back…

Thanks to my boundless fitness, it takes less than an hour to get down to the Alm. The terrace offers enough space for tourists and hikers, topped by great service and Bavarian food. From here on, the forest roads back to the Spitzingsattel/parking can be done effortless, even better with intensified gravity (food, did I mention the Bavarian food?!).

…for being here… for having reached… for widened horizons…

Finally, I am happy to count around 880 m altitude difference, two summits and 4,5 hours of joyful action.

880m altit. difference13 km4:30 hmostly harmless

Kreuzbergalm / Schliersee

The early bird gets the summit! During my second cup of coffee, I watch the sun enfold a midsized light show and start to prepare today’s hike.

Weeks of rain have kept me away from the Alps far too long. Consequence is one of the light-blue tours of my preferred hiking book, presented as a 3 hours-walk up to the Kreuzbergalm.

…then along the way…

School holidays meet one of the rare sunny days, resulting in high traffic density. Yet, I reach the Schliersee region at 6:30 a.m.without the slightest delay. When I start my walk at 7:05, I hope that I will reach the peak before my body realizes that I have skipped breakfast (time over food quantity, I’d say).

#kreuzbergalm
Good Morning, Kreuzbergalm

I beat the expected time (1:50h) significantly when settling down at the peak at a quarter past eight. The scenery is lovely, with the Wendelstein in the East, Baumgartenschneid in the South and the grey, stony walls of the Karwendel peaks in the West.

Lookout to Wendelstein

The Kreuzbergalm is a perfect match in the rural surrounding. It is a pity that I am too little too early for the offered delicacies.

Looking West

Smart girl that I am, I have taken along the mediocre trial of home-made cinnamon buns, knowing that anything tastes delicious in the thin air of a high peak. About 500 kcal later, I have regained enough energy for a selfie before a super-speed descent back to Schliersee.

reach out touch faith; #personaljesus
Reach out, touch Faith!
415m altit. difference7,5 km1:45hVery Harmless

Four weeks later, the déjà-vu. Today with a friend and the Kreuzbergalm open for guests. And with confiding, happy cows. We (the cow and me) come to the same conclusion: All worth it.