Seriously Uphill: Geigelstein

Here I go again, uphill on a holiday Tuesday! There is hardly anything more rewarding than a spontaneous free day in the middle of the week, with bright summer weather and beautiful mountains around. (Except for real travels, says a low voice in the back of my head, but I am willing to ignore it for some time more.)

Today’s pathfinder is Gunther again, one of the best hiking buddies to dive deep into nature.

Outgrowing Nature

All I have to do is get rid of half of my trousers and follow him uphill for mere 1.100m. And bear the sun that shines oh so bright. High noon gets its own, delicate meaning when you make it to the peak in the middle of the day, on heights that are too low for alpine frost, but get you closer to the sun nonetheless.

Destination ahead

Every so often, we cross flocks of cows that ignore most of Covid-19’s distance regulations. Now, isn’t it great to approach a vague fear of huge animals? It would be easy to get in touch, yet we try to respect their grounds when passing by with deep tribute even in closest nearness.

Don’t stand… don’t stand so… don’t stand so close to me…

Thanks to my inner impatience, I skip the idea of waiting for them to free the path, and instead count on the fact that they should be more experienced in hiker-encounters than I am in relation to cows. And, guess what? It works!

Leaving all others behind

Today’s peak is sort of a ridge with steep flanks on two sides, yet without being bothering. It offers enough space for a hand full of hikers and their peak snack (rewarding Gipfelsemmel), accompanied by a 360° lookout.

…then on top…

The view in all directions is splendid: mountains and valleys, blue skies and stretching sporties.

Stretching thoroughly defined Muscles

Despite the moderate height of 1.808m, the perspective from the backside of the cross is not less impressive. Only the yoga pose is still more of a trial than a success, but who talks about success when it is about inner balance?

When trying to Balance the Unbalanced

The way down offers an abbreviation that brings me closer to my inner demons (eeeekh, nature!). Thanks to the mixture of rain and warmth these days, any plant seems to reach twice its regular size, colouring parts of our bare arms and legs with red signs of nettles or whatever is part of this alpine jungle. Still, the short cut accelerates the way towards the Priener Hütte and after all I am fine with the blossoming beauty around.

Facets of Beauty

Eventually, another wonderful hike comes to its end as it comes with the outlook to further ones that will follow – great playground, these near mountains!

Nice Region
1.100m alt. difference14,5 km6:15hmostly harmless

Karspitze or: How to Hike on my own (without getting lost)

It is amazing how my surrounding knows me. As soon as I head South towards the Alps, my favourite radio station plays Kate Bush with something about “running up that hill”, causing a blurred picture half way between dreaming, driving and anticipating today’s hike.

“The Forest” (The Cure) would have been another suitable song…

In fact, today’s pathways are more grounded. I appear to be the first one finding my way uphill, even the cows are still dozy at 8:00 a.m. I enjoy the quiet atmosphere as I continue on forest paths towards the Karspitze.

Clean Shoes on Forest Paths in the lower part of the Route

Exceptionally, I try to find the peak all on my own, with the plan to continue walking until I find a place with a cross. I make my way with the tour description at hand, bright summer skies above and deep mud wherever I share the way with pasturing cattle. Blaming anyone for having missed the right path at the most unremarkable junction, it is for the cows and the slush: Instead of plodding through another wet meadow (hardly looking like it would lead anywhere further than the trough), I continue on the broad way and may have missed some more romantic passages.

Inviting enough

However, taking advantage of my fantastic sense of orientation, I realize in time that either way gets me up to the peak, proved just fifteen minutes later. With flowering meadows and a neat chapel, the place looks as romantic as possible, almost ending my inner chagrin about invisible junctions or lost tracks. Coming closer, the view opens up towards the cliff walls of “Zahmer Kaiser” and on some clouds that appear against all predictions.

…then the View enfolds: Zahmer Kaiser

Once more in this crazy overtourism-summer, I am alone on top of today’s hill. At least for 10 minutes, but still. The Karspitze is a minor peak with only 1.241m above sea level, attracting few tourists. I enjoy the peaceful place, chat a bit with other, rare hikers and then hop down half way for a stop at Wildbichlalm and their impressive coffee machine.

The World hangs crooked in it’s Hinges? No worries, I hold on to it in the most supportive Way!

With today’s short & easy tour, I find myself on the way back home already around noon. The hamlets between Aschau and Sachrang are named Berg, Bach, Stein, Wald and, even more precise, Außerwald and Innerwald (transl.: mountain, creek, stone, forest, added by outofforest and innerforest). Obviously, they have been established either with the most practical approach or by an impressive lack of inventiveness.

I will continue to compensate missing travels with spontaneous hikes this year. Later on, when regular tourists need to return to their homes and their offices, I might include Hector for some night-outs. It is so not-his-style, being parked at home all summer long…

500m alt. difference6 km< 3hharmless

Double Peak Tour: Feichteck and Karkopf

Dissolving Clouds

Years and years, I regarded myself being unsporting, yet happen to move quite a lot. Now my learning of the C-year is: I am sporty! A real tough athletic wonderwoman, running and climbing, swimming and dancing, skating and cycling and all the rest. Being locked down by a series of incidents, I missed the regular action much more than I would have guessed.

Back on Track => Yay to Sporty Challenges

Fortunately, this is about to change now. During the second hike of the year, I even carry the backpack on my own, just like a grown-up kid! Perfectly celebrated with a double peak tour in Chiemgau.

Totally Fine Carrying only his own Backpack: Gunther

Gunther, today’s hiking buddy, joins me for a decent tour towards Feichteck. The hiking paths are gentle and almost deserted as we make our way through an enchanted forest.

Nature is Brimming these Days

Eventually, we come to a halt at the tall and simple cross of the Feichteck peak. Despite high season and overtourism in our beloved Alps, we find ourselves alone up here, enjoying the view and some prepared Gipfelsemmel (author’s note: the translation “peak snack” is not entirely, but almost unlike the real, heartful meaning).

The huge Cross Ups the Mountain by 6 Metres

Having realized our full sports potential, we decide that one summit is hardly enough for us mountain pros. Consequently, we make a second stop on the Karkopf peak. Getting there includes a more interesting passage with an almost vertical climb that leads up on a ridge.

Up. Straight Up.

Once there, you better pause for a moment and enjoy the view that enfolds a few steps before the peak cross will be reached.

Between Feichteck and Karkopf

The Karkopf is a funny summit with a flat top, using a very individual cross to pretend being a serious peak. In fact, it rather seems like a mid-level picknick plateau, decorated with an extraterrestrial road sign.

The Road Sign gives Priority to Spacehips coming from Kuiper Belt

Our route is only about an inch away from the Hochries, a more famous hill with a comfortable cableway. From a distance, we witness piles of tourists up there, while we enjoy a mostly lonesome hike. The only living obstacles in our way are some cows. Due to their impressive size, we agree that mass wins and circle cautiously around the most splendid specimen.

Happy like Daisies

The tour ends with cake and coffee at the Doagl Alm and, of course, with smiling faces and happy feet.

850m altitude8,7 km4 hmostly harmless

Finally: Bergtour / 1st Hiking 2020 / Heuberg

View from Heuberg towards Kitzstein

It does not take much in the sense of quantity to have a good time. But it takes high-quality friends!

Friendly, Mountain-Affine – Yet this Calf did not Offer to Pick Up my Backpack

My dear camping + hiking + action + good-time friend Barbara offers to take my hiking equipment in her backpack, leaving my (still injured) shoulders weightless. Of course, I strip the necessities of the tour down to an absolute minimum: water, sunscreen, lip balm, Brotzeit, a light jacket, an egg, salt (for the boiled egg), a short-sleeve shirt. Nothing fancy.

Barbara: Brave Girl

With all my former muscles being left behind some months ago, we aim for a relaxed tour: 600 m altitude, 9km (easy to extend with just one or two wrong turns) and a decent number of mountain pastures. Adding perfect weather and a peak with a picturesque cross, and here we go.

Heuberg Summit: Great to be Here

The smart part of today’s team (that would be Barbara) doubted that via ferrata or “interesting mountain challenges” of any kind would be the right thing as long as my movements count as slightly handicapped. Hence, we focus on nice paths with a bit of exposed rock around the ridge – just perfect for my longing for real mountain experience.

A Wonderfully Varied Tour

The friendly hikers we meet along the way comfirm implicitly that the old magnetism-rules are back in place. The good mood we carry with us is tells me something about sporty outdoor action and how much I had missed it.

Today’s Dream Team

Looking forward to further hikes during the summer of the strangest year! And who knows? Perhaps I will be able to carry my own backpack next time…

600m altitutde9 km3,5 hharmless (vertigo chances on the small ridge)

Hochplatte Hike

Es wird Zeit, die erfahrene Bergfreundin aus der glorreichen Nepal-Ära an die Seite zu holen für eine schöne Herbst-Tour: Die Hochplatte im Chiemgau soll es heute werden, und hinterrücks vorbei an allen Staus beamen wir uns in die Bergwelt.

Today’s destination is the peak of the Hochplatte and, together with my dear hiking buddy from Nepal, we fight our way around traffic jams and approach the Chiemgau.

Vor kurzem (2017/2018) war ich richtig gut am Berg: Kondition, Muskelkraft, alles da. Ich nehme an, dass solche Fähigkeiten nicht über Nacht verschwinden, also wird das heute ein entspannter Spaziergang. Wobei „über Nacht“ leicht geschönt ist – seit der Rückkehr aus Nepal kann ich die Bergtouren an einer Hand abzählen.

By now I got used to being a hiking pro: strength, general fitness, mountain skills – all set and proven by numerous tours back in 2017/2018. I assume that once you turn into a chamois, this is going to last forever. Or should I have exercised at least a bit throughout summer?

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Kaum überraschend ist das Schnaufen schon zu Beginn des sanften Anstiegs. Belohnt werden wir schon früh mit einer geradezu kitschigen Landschaft, aber ich halte mich zurück und jammere nur wenig.

As soon as the path rises up, I hand over the conversation to my hiking companion as she has definitely more breath left. However, I do not care too much about the strain: the beautiful landscape with picturesque facets rewards me despite of my lack of routine.

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Half-way up to the Hochplatte

Dort, wo es schon ordentlich steil wird, ist ein entscheidender Wegweiser dermaßen unauffällig angebracht, dass der Trampelpfad aller Irrläufer auffälliger ist als der richtige Weg. Zwei fragende Begegnungen später und 20 Minuten Umweg schnaufender stehen wir kurz vor dem finalen Gipfelanstieg – und das, obwohl wir noch mitten in der Vegetation sind. Typisch Herbsttour im Chiemgau: hier muss es nicht über 1.582 m hinaus gehen, auch in niederen Lagen lässt es sich anstrengend wandern.

Later the paths become steep and the signposts rare. The frequent usage of a dirt track makes it more appealing than the real route, and only when facing the unexpected gorge between us and the desired peak we realize the dead end that it is.

Dummerweise führt von der anderen Seite eine Seilbahn bis kurz unter den Gipfel, so dass es am Kreuz recht gedrängt zugeht. Sollen die doch alle gucken, ich versuche trotzdem einen Handstand!

Eventually, we make it to the top. With “top” being a moderate one. Yet, 1.582m height is enough to enjoy a 360° view on distant peaks, on the Chiemsee and on dozens of tourists that took the chair lift “Hochplattenbahn”.

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Even when you have reached the peak you still can be only half up to something

Der Blick von diesem mittelhohen Hügel ist umwerfend: Die Farben, der herbstliche Himmel, das Meer von Berggipfeln… Wie schön, dass meine Bergfreundin mich motiviert hat, auch die letzten anstrengenden Meter durchzuhalten.

Having the best company in my own entourage, I ignore all others. Meaning that I try to ignore their bewildered looks as I try to turn our world upside down. I really should work more focused on my handstand skills, gaining more aplomb for public shows like this. Anyway, the view into the open distracts me from further personal doubts.

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If I were a painter, I would try to paint the longing for flying in thin air, moving along with the clouds, towards the sea of peaks

Der Abstieg belohnt uns mit zwei weiteren Highlights: Zunächst mit dem Blick hinterrücks auf die Kampenwand. Ich denke freudig zurück an die Bergtour mit Freunden bei der mir klar wurde, dass es kraxelig werden muss, damit ich trotz Anstiegs-Anstrengung Endorphine ausschütte.

The descent offers further highlights with the view on the spectacular Kampenwand where I once started to learn more about hillwalks and what makes them interesting: It is about climbing parts and choosing the right companions.

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Say Hello to the Kampenwand

Schließlich folgt die Einkehr bei einer der urigsten Almen, die ich bisher erlebt habe. Nach Kaffee und Sonne und mit nunmehr bergab führenden Wegen ist auch das Schnaufen leiser geworden. Man sollte solche Ausflüge wirklich häufiger machen!

Finally, we settle down at one of the most rural alp-shacks I have been to. Coffee, sun and the change of direction (now: downhill) make me relax and enjoy our chat that meanders from job situations over to philosophy, people and further topics of interest (life, the universe and everything). What a wonderful day!

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Oberauerbrunst-Alm

Hochschnaufen auf den Hochstaufen

2019 is one of those years when you learn to use each and every bright day for summer action. You never know when rain and cold will take over the local weather, hence you better get going soon.

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Promising Sunrise

Today’s destination is Innzell, a small and charming village that tries to attract some leftover tourists from Chiemsee, Berchtesgaden and Salzburg. Astounding enough, it comes with a range of different overnight possibilities for campers of which Hector chooses Camping Lindlbauer. Despite the comfort of the place, our sleeping night is a short one. How could you ignore a site where you can count thousands and millions of stars, winded up in the milky way, garnished with the International Space Station floating by?!

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Waking up in Innzell

The reason for us being here lies a bit below the firmament: Walking up from Adlgass to the top of the Hochstaufen should be a nice and relaxed hike. Before we start, we enjoy coffee, croissants with homemade jam (talked into by the friendly camping staff) and the view on green meadows and proud mountains.

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20,-€ and 90 minutes of driving and see where we are 😊

The hike turns out to be versatile. We start from parking Adlgass (5 minutes drive from our campsite) and walk on forest roads to a small lake. Some ducks sit on the wooden pier, ignoring stoically the bypassing tourists, claiming older rights on the lake Frillensee.

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The paths are more upwards now and lead us through pictorial forests. As soon as we leave the trees behind, the paths turn into climbs, now being more steep and – from a passionate climber’s perspective – even more interesting. Hikers with a fear of heights might enjoy it less than we do.

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The summit fits in the scenery: few space, edgy rocks and a 360° view. And, of course, a cross. Since I started hiking the Alps, I found out that I like to discover how the particular cross on today’s peak looks like. They are all different, motivating me to collect (virtually) more and more of them.

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Below the peak is a tiny chapel and mountain hut that needs steel ropes to fix it to the rocky walls of the cliff. We enjoy soup and coffee and the August sun on our faces.

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Hiking-Camping-Buddy Jacktheyogi

The descent takes not more than half the time of the ascent and soon enough we come back to waiting Hector. Regarding traffic, it could be wise to turn South and stop at the first good opportunity to wash off the mountain’s sweat – be it either the sea or a hot shower. It takes some discipline to act reasonable and turn North, following the queue of cars back home and arrive just in time for a gorgeous sunset.

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Besides the micro vacation with camping, summer and summits, further things have been sorted out today: Better learn now than later that Hector cries for new breaks – good to have this coming up during autumn (rather than during longer tours throughout Europe). The sound of his four wheels coming to a halt in front of home is like a sigh of relief: We had wonderful trips, we made it safely back home and now it is time for some caretaking. Brave little van!

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Such a Wonderful Van, surrounded by a Beautiful Scenery

 

Alpspitz Ferrata

…und dann war da noch mein Lieblingsberg. Derjenige, der sich halbwegs in der Nähe befindet und den ich annährend 100 mal fotografiert habe. Die zackige Spitze, die schroffen Felsen, die markante Form: Die Alpspitze!

…and then there is this particular mountain that made it on almost 100 pictures of mine. The serrated peak, the craggy rocks, the striking form: The Alpspitze!

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Beautiful Summit

Es gibt einen Klettersteig, der hinaufführt. Und es gibt das Alpentestival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen und den Stellplatz am Wank, kurz: nix wie hin.

A well-known via ferrata leads up to the summit. This weekend, it comes along with the Alpentestival at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the camper parking Wank, hence best preconditions for a gorgeous weekend in the Alps.

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Home is where you park it

Während der halben Stunde, die ich am Wank-Hütterl für meinen Stellplatz-Schein anstehe, dämmert mir, dass viel Action womöglich ganz schön viele Menschen anzieht. Für heute ist jedenfalls alles gut: Hector steht friedlich eingereiht und der Blick reicht vom Kramer zur Alpspitze und zurück.

The waiting time in the queue of the Wank-Hütterl for Hector’s parking ticket makes me think twice about the attractions of mountain events and the masses of people they attract. Anyway, Hector has found a nice slot in the row of camper vans with a view that ranges from the Kramer to the Alpspitze (and back).

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Now, really??

Der nächste Morgen begrüßt mich mit Regen. Hmpf, denke ich während ich mich vom Bett zum Cockpit bewege. Doch dann: Wow! Dem Regenbogen nach steht am Fuß des Kramers ein größerer Goldtopf.

Summer rain welcomes the next morning. My first reaction is something like “Hmpf” while the next second it turns into Wow! Seems like a jar filled with gold is to be found at the foot of the Kramer mountain.

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Yeah, really!

Später am Tag denke ich, dass ein wenig Sponsoring aus eben jenem Goldtopf meinem spontanen Rabatt-Shopping nicht geschadet hätte – aber angesichts der Angebote auf dem Testival-Gelände geht das auch so in Ordnung. Das Ganze ist eine große Werbe-Veranstaltung des größten Sporthauses am Platz (Sport Conrad), was mir jedoch ziemlich wurscht sein kann. Hat mich ja keiner zum Geldausgeben gezwungen und auch der Eintrittspreis ist mit inbegriffenen Vergünstigungen und der kostenlosen Sommerrodelbahn schnell wieder eingespielt.

I should have asked for some sponsoring out of that gold jar, covering the unforeseen shopping of sports equipment at the testival merchandise stands. Yet, the offers being part of the marketing event (the whole weekend seems to be offered by the local sports shop Conrad) are pretty okay. The same is true for the entrance fee that is already earned back with a bundle of rebates and the summer toboggan that is offered for free.

Mit Barbara, die gegen Mittag dazu kommt, stürze ich mich gleich 2x die Rodelbahn hinab und bei der zweiten Runde gilt natürlich: wer bremst, verliert!

With Barbara, arriving later that day, we run down the toboggan two times in a row with the standard principle “Brakes are for Losers!” valid for the second turn.

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Ob Garmisch wirklich so rustikal ist wie alle meinen? Unbedingt!

Unser Schwung reicht gerade noch aus, um kurz vor Ende der Öffnungszeit noch zwei Parcours im Kletterwald zu absolvieren, was irre viel Spaß in luftiger Höhe bringt. Aufgrund der brav abgegebenen Handys leider ohne Bild-Dokumentation, dafür auch ohne Regen. Sekunden, nachdem wir wieder festen Boden unter den Füßen haben, kommt ein weiterer Sommer-Schauer an und es gießte kurzzeitig in Strömen. Wie gut, dass wir nur wenige hundert Meter zurück zur Homebase haben. Es geht doch nichts über einen günstig geparkten Hector!

Full of zest and just in time before today’s closing, we make it to the climbing garden. Fun and height and the conquest of wobbly parcours are the perfect conclusion of today’s activities – and with heavy rain settling in, the short distance of mere 300 metres back to Hector is more than welcome.

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Lady Helmchen und Calimero am Fuße des Klettersteigs

Am nächsten Morgen sind wir beinahe die ersten an der Alpspitzbahn. Besser gesagt: wir wären es, wenn nicht der großen Andrang und die geführten Alpentestival-Touren bereits zu etlichen Sonderfahrten lange vor dem üblichem Betriebsbeginn geführt hätten… Den daraus folgenden Pulk Ungeübter, der zu Stau am Gipfelweg führt, erleben wir zum Glück erst auf halber Strecke.

We intend to be ahead of all others, right at the start of operation at the Alpspitzbahn and we almost succeed. We learn that due to the Alpentestival, dozens of additional rides have been offered already an hour before the regular time. Lucky us that it takes more than half of the distance before we bump into the bulk of people that cause a jam on the way to the summit. And here comes my personal greetings to the American hikers that I would cordially welcome if not for their ignorance and stupidity when it comes to common behaviour in mountain regions.

2019_08_04_DZunächst geht es ordentlich bergan: Leitern und Eisenstufen im Fels markieren den Einstieg in die Alpspitz-Ferrata. Für mich als Skihasen ist die Gegend in sommerlicher Form völlig unvertraut. Seltsam, oberhalb von Garmisch zu sein, ganz ohne Ski an den Füßen. Und all die grünen Wiesen! Die Wege, die sonst unter den Pisten verborgen sind, die grauen Felsen ohne weißen Puder…2019_08_04_DD

The Alpspitz Ferrata starts very common with its most interesting parts: vertical ladders and iron steps mark the first section. I have been here many, many times but never in summer: it is almost weird, being here without skis at my feet and with green meadows and pure grey rock.

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Zu Beginn können wir gut unser Tempo gehen – nicht einsam und allein, aber doch ohne aufgehalten oder gehetzt zu werden. Die Aussicht ist immer wieder grandios, nicht zuletzt, weil alles hinter dem Osterfelderkopf wie abgeschnitten von der Zivilisation ist.

The vista is wonderful. The Osterfelderkopf blocks most of the view towards civilization and makes us feel like chamois, embedded in pure nature. Apart from the ferrata’s steel rope, that is.

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Erst ganz oben auf dem Gipfel reicht der Blick bis in die Täler von Grainau und Garmisch. Wir sind rundum zufrieden mit unserer Leistung: Klettersteige gehen wir erwiesenermaßen lässig und sicher. Besonders, wenn sie (wie die Alpspitz-Ferrata) so leicht sind, dass man sich gelegentlich fragt, ob das ewige Ein- und Ausklinken der Karabiner wirklich notwendig ist.

Reaching the summit widens the horizon: now we see the valley of Grainau and Garmisch and a whole lot of peaks and mountains around. With our experienced via ferrata skills, the way up has been a piece of cake. And, more true, due to the fact that technically it is the easiest one I have done so far.

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Gipfelstürmer

Erstaunlicherweise sieht die Alpspitze von oben ganz anders aus als von unten. Der markante Zacken ist nicht mehr zu sehen und er ist auch nicht ganz so spitz wie eine Tobleronen-Ecke. Schroff ist es schon und allzuviel Platz gibt es auch nicht (wo soll man denn hier einen Handstand machen??), aber schön ist es. Zumindest die ersten 20 Minuten, dann werden die Wolken dichter und wir hadern nicht länger mit all den warmen Klamotten, die wir mit rauf getragen haben.

The funny thing with mountain peaks is the fact that they look totally different once you make it on their top. The typical form seems gone and it is not half as sharp as it seems from below. Yet, it is still rugged and offers not much of a surface (not enough room for a handstand). Beautiful, that’s what it is. Only minutes later, the clouds fight back the sun and we are grateful for all superfluous jackets and hoodies we carried up here.

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Then on the Way back…

Auf dem Weg nach unten verlieren sich die Bergtouristen. Und die Wege. Von Wegweisern ganz zu schweigen. Die Idee, einen Schlenker zur Kreuzalm mit ihrem sagenumwobenen Kaiserschmarrn zu machen, geben wir unterwegs auf. Stattdessen folgen wir dem einzig erkennbaren Weg zurück zum Osterfelderkopf.

Auch wenn wir vom Alpentestival vieles gar nicht wahrgenommen haben (die Boulderwand, das Freibad, die Partnachklamm), so hatten wir doch ein herrliches Wochenende in den Bergen. Mit Hector, mit Shopping, mit Klettersteig und mit viel Genuss!

We abandon our plan for a detour to the Kreuzalm due to the sheer lack of signposts. Finally, we make it back to the Osterfelderkopf where we congratulate ourselves for this wonderful weekend in the Alps. With sun and rainbows, with shopping and via ferrata and with Hector and my wonderful camping-hiking buddy Barbara!

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…once I grow up, I will go for the Jubiläumsgrat and all the way up to the Zugspitze (visible in the far back of this picture)!

Via Ferrata: Einstieg in die Welt der Klettersteige

How to enjoy the mountains all for yourself? Combine bad weather forecast with unexpected sun!

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Barbara on her Way Up

Zwischen Schlüssel-Übergabe (gegen die Wohnungsnot in der Stadt!) und der Abfahrt nach Sizilien bleibt gerade genug Zeit für meinen ersten Klettersteig. Eigentlich unseren ersten Klettersteig: Barbara ist mit von der Partie und zieht mal wieder Männer an und aus (überholender Klettersteigler – wer braucht schon T-Shirts wenn die Sonne scheint?).

After handing over my keys to my house-sitter and before Hector heads off for Sicilia, there is enough time for a quick introduction on fixed rope routes. Once more it is Barbara who joins and it is not quite unexpected when half way up a sporty hiker passes us by and pulls off his shirt along the way.

2019_05_11A01Gleich zu Beginn geht es steil nach oben und ich bin begeistert: der direkte Weg ist so viel effizienter als die ewigen Serpentinenpfade!

The via ferrata starts with a steep passage and I congratulate ourselves to this new approach: it is so much more efficient to go straight up the walls rather than following regular hiking paths. And, by the way, it is much more fun! Especially when it comes to the parts that have been marked with a “C” on the ferrata’s map, which I assume means “extra Cool”.

Zum Einstieg enthält der Klettersteig eine Leiter und Abschnitte, die auf der Karte mit „C“ markiert sind. C steht dabei für „besonders Cool“, sind es doch diese Stellen, die uns am meisten herausfordern.

With Winni from Erlebnis-Berg at our side, grade C is no problem at all. We brachiate along the cliff and get routine in using the snap hooks and ropes. We learn that tiniest rock needles are sufficient for a bit of a stand and how to relax hanging in the steel ropes at a vertical wall.

Mit Bergführer Winni an unserer Seite ist Schwierigkeit C natürlich kein Problem und so hangeln wir uns entlang der Felswände immer weiter bergauf. Nebenbei lernen wir den Umgang mit den Sicherungs-Karabinern, das richtige Abstützen am Berg und die Suche nach hervorspringenden Felskanten, auf denen wir ein paar Quadratmillimeter Fuß platzieren können.

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At the Wall. In the Wall? Along the Wall!

Die Strecke führt entlang des Hausbach-Wasserfalls bergauf und ist mit wildem Enzian garniert. Gut, dass wir die Tour bei Erlebnis-Berg gebucht haben, wer weiß, ob es sonst so romantisch wäre. Auf jeden Fall macht es jede Menge Spaß und wir fühlen uns nun ausreichend erfahren, um eigenes Zubehör anzuschaffen und im Lauf des Sommers den ein oder anderen leichten Klettersteig im Alleingang zu begehen.

The route follows the direction (mostly: upwards) of the Hausbach waterfall and is speckled with wild gentian flowers. These mountain people, always so romantic… Today is just the right start into new movements and results in a shopping list for climbing harness and helmet. Looks like the mountains will not bore us anytime near.

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Nach 170 Hm endet der Steig mit einem Baumstamm, auf dem wir den Wasserfall überqueren und noch ein paar Yogaposen einbauen. Der Blick von oben in die Klettersteig-Strecke ist berauschend, vor allem für uns Neulinge. Eben noch waren schwere Wanderungen das höchste der Gefühle, während nun noch mehr tolle Bergtouren möglich sind, Kraxelei inklusive. Das mindert zwar nicht den potenziellen Freizeitstress, steigert dafür aber unser Glücksgefühl. Rückfahrt im Regen, Grinsen zwischen den Außenspiegeln, Muskelkater im Gesicht – super Ausflug!

Grand finale is a tree traversing the gulch, inviting enough for some yoga pose. The look down on our track frees up even more endorphins and part of the muscle soreness is caused by wide grins on our faces.

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nonchalant…

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…und übermütig

Let’s Play Spring Time! oder: sieht so der Frühling aus?

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Schnee oder Sonne? Wandern oder Camping? Natur oder Kultur?? “Ja” zu allem, und los geht’s. Womit geklärt wäre, wie man eine Couch-Potatoe wie mich in die Alpen bringt: man fährt mitsamt der Couch hin! Und mitBarbara 😊.

Snow or Sun? Hiking or Camping? Nature or Culture? The answer is a clear “yes”, and off we go. How to get a couch potato like me into the Alps? Just move the couch!

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We Know How

Kaum geht es bergab auf der italienischen Brenner-Seite, schon wird der Himmel blau und Dean Martin erklärt uns „That’s Amore“. Unser Wohnzimmer parken wir am Camping Seiser Alm und schlendern am Völser Weiher vorbei durch liebliche Landschaft und durch mehr Sonnenschein, als der Wetterbericht versprochen hatte.

As soon as Hector speeds up (downhill), blue sky meets mild temperatures while Dean Martin tells us “That’s Amore”: welcome to the Italian side of life! With our home base parked at Camping Seiser Alm, we stroll past the Völser Weiher and enjoy dry weather that beats the forecasts of the past days.

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Strolling down to Völs

Völs am Schlern zeigt sich von seiner Italienischen Seite mit Espresso, süßem Gebäck, Eiscreme und Wein. Zurück am Campingplatz wollen wir auf diese Stärkung weiter aufbauen und kommen zu Nr. 2 unserer Reihe „Yoga an ungewöhnlichen Orten“. Nach Nr. 1 (zwischen Tischfußball und Billardtisch in Sexten) entdecken wir nun den Schminkraum für uns und rollen rechts und links des außerordentlich schönen, antiken Pfauen-Brunnens unsere Yogamatten aus.

Völs am Schlern is good for our first Italian coffee, sweets, ice cream and wine. Sure enough, we know how to build a solid base for the evening’s yoga class. With the rain setting in the late afternoon, we come to the No. 2 of our series “Yoga at unusual places”: No. 1 had been the Dolomites / Sexten trip in 2017, now it is the ladies’ hair dressing room just beside the showers.

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Samstag ist reserviert für unsere große Tour zum Tschafon. Einige Stunden und zwei fragwürdige Wegweiser liegen hinter uns, als wir zu einem wunderbaren Mittagessen an der Hofer Alpl einkehren. Als uns die freundliche Bedienung erzählt, dass der Weg zum Tschafon aufgrund von Winterschäden noch nicht wieder frei ist, beglückwünschen wir uns zu unserem mittäglichen Tagesziel.

The next morning, we start well-prepared our grand tour with destination Tschafon. Some hours and two misleading signs later, we enjoy luxury lunch at the Hofer Alpl and learn that the Tschafon path of our (original) choice is not accessible due to winter damages.

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Happy Hikers at Hofer Alpl

Die Aussicht über den Tellerrand fasziniert mich und ich fasse umgehend den Plan, dieses oder nächstes Jahr auf die Hammerwand zu gehen. Es ist einer dieser Gipfel, die mich mit felsigen Abhängen und einsam stehendem Gipfelkreuz magisch anziehen.

Only a part of me follows the conversation with the friendly alpl staff while my focus is mainly taken by the view on the Hammerwand right in front: There I want to go someday! I love those tiny peaks that offer just a handful of square metres, all surrounded by steep flanks.

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Destination for Future Hiking Trips: Hammerwand

Auch für die Hammerwand (ähnlich dem Tschafon-Weg) ist es noch zu früh im Jahr, und so setzen wir unseren Weg Richtung Tuff Alm und Völser Weiher / Huber Weiher fort. Der obere der beiden Seen funkelt in der Frühlingssonne und hält uns lange auf. Uns fällt aber auch nichts Dringlicheres ein, als sich auf einer Bank am See die Sonne auf den Bauch scheinen zu lassen.

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This being set, we continue on the way towards Tuff Alm, meandering lovely through light forests. When we pass by the Huber Weiher, the afternoon sun is too tempting to move on. Is there anything else to do than sitting at the lake’s shore and doze in golden rays of sun? Hard to imagine.

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Da uns rd. 650 Höhenmeter naturgemäß nichts anhaben können, ist wohl die Südtiroler Frühlingssonne schuld daran dass wir abends nach einem kleinen Glas Wein frühzeitig in die Betten fallen. Vermutlich träumen wir dabei von verwunschenen Bergseen und malerischen Wanderwegen…

As 650 m altitude difference are not supposed to have any impact on us, it must have been the unused sun that makes us fall asleep early that evening. We may dream of idyllic lakes and sun-dotted hiking paths…

 

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…tatsächlich sieht der nächste Morgen jedoch ganz anders aus:

…when in fact the next morning looks like this:

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Then the next morning… / Morgendlicher Ausblick

Nach heißem Kaffee in unserem coolen Bus brechen wir auf zum Messner Mountain Museum Firmian. Das alte Burg-Gemäuer mit architektonischem Feinschliff von Werner Tscholl ist wie geschaffen dafür, sich treiben zu lassen und viele verspielte und schöne Details zu entdecken. Gekrönt wird das ganze (für mich) mit einer High-Speed Annapurna-Umrundung.

After hot coffee in the coolest van, we head off for a museums day at the Messner Mountain Museum Firmian. Supported by architect Werner Tscholl, Messner and his crew managed to create a place that invites you to stroll around, detect sculptures and details and perform a high-speed Annapurna circuit.

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Es ist genau 179 Tage her, dass ich am 11. Tag des Treks rund um die Annapurna im Himalaya den Thorong La-Pass überquert habe. Heute brauche ich hingegen volle 10 Minuten um mit Kennerblick all die feinsäuberlichen Details des Annapurna-Modells zu bewundern, während ich einmal vollständig darum herum laufe. Völlig enthusiastisch schreibe ich sofort einen Gruß an meine hochgeschätzte Mitwanderin Sabine.

Only 179 days ago, it took me 11 days to follow the track around the Annapurna in Himalaya. Today, I take my time and appreciate all well-known details from the supernatural model and need full 10 minutes around it. Still excited, I send some Nepal greetings to my holiday-hiking-companion Sabine.

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Little Nepal in Italy

Sonntag Abend kommen wir zurück und haben das Gefühl, eine volle Urlaubswoche verlebt zu haben. Wir hatten Schnee und wir hatten Frühling, dazu Wandern und Kultur, und dazwischen haben wir immer wieder Speis & Trank bester italienischer Machart genossen. Kein Wunder, dass mir mein Hector so sehr ans Herz gewachsen ist – lädt er doch immer wieder dazu ein, das vermeintlich grünere Gras in naher oder weiter Ferne zu erkunden.

When we come back on Sunday evening, it feels like a week of holidays have passed. We had snow and we had sun and hiking and culture and in between, we enjoyed Italian food & wine. This is why I love my brave little Hector, always so inviting to go and see the greener grass on the other side.

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Sonne im Herzen (Sunshine is something you have in your heart)

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Preparing Nepal: The Equipment

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The Devil is in the Detail

Warmhalten

Imagine a range of temperatures between -10 and + 20 °C. An expedition sleeping bag that keeps you cosy even when the inner temperature in the lodge drops to -15 °C. Heavy hiking shoes. Insulated bottles for 2-3 litres of water and tea. Clothing for 3 weeks, rain protection included. A camera beyond the lenses of regular smart phones. Add “bring-your-own-bathroom” (toilet paper, towel, flip flops, hygienic wet wipes, …) and masses of plasters. And then set the limit to 15 kg max.

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This is my first trekking trip; thus, I am free of any prior experience or knowledge. My approach is based on working routines: I set up a list in excel and fill it with all details and their weight. Then I calculate each item in or out until I reach the given maximum. Astounding enough for a girl with “nothing to wear!” in her closet: the main challenge was a minimizing one, eliminating 20% of the planned items right from the start.

 

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Lucky me that I head neither clue nor equipment when I signed in for the trip in summer 2017. You may have remarked the significant increase in the outdoor markets throughout the last months, evident in the pictures around. Most of the clothing is 100% Merino wool – it is comfortable to wear and refreshes itself overnight even after a soaking-sweating-hiking day.

 

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I count down the days until departure and take care of the last steps until I enter the plane. I give over my apartment keys to the friend that will move in, check the required amount of cash for visa and other fees, fully charge camera and iPod and climb up to the Rotwandhaus for the last time (and for lamb chops and for coffee and for the exercise of it).

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Then I will compare my luggage with a more experienced friend and wonder what I might have forgotten (mini skirt? Bikini? Nail polish??)…

 

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