Preparing Nepal: Winterly Hochries

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When it comes to altitude difference, forget about sea level and focus on today’s cloud level. Sure enough, four blondes know how to compete winterly weather and thus we enjoy a neat little tour up to the Hochries / Chiemgau.

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The start is all mud and meadows, but after an hour we continue our way through old snow beneath young feet. The tour itself is easy, challenged only by the slippery snow that requires a certain concentration with every step you take. From time to time we come to a halt and take a look around. It might not be spectacular, but is so much better than the foggy city of Munich in these first days of January.

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Once on top, we take over the best table of the Hochrieshütte and settle down for food and coffee – an outlook that regularly becomes visible on my typical summit face.

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Coffee! Food!

Before we start our descent, we use the excursion to change the way how to look on life and peaks. Being flexible, that is what we aim for.

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Downwards, the snow prevents any rush. 800 m height difference are not more than a relaxed walk in the woods, but nonetheless our route led us to the first peak of the year.

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Preparing Nepal: Rosskopf by Snowshoe

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Peak with a View

Been there, done that – and yet another peak: Hector is keen on snowshoeing and thus we head off to Spitzingsee.

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The Rosskopf hidden behind the Church is as high as its Tower

After a colourful sunrise we start relaxed at 8:00 am and even though we are not alone on the streets, there is (astounding enough) no rush towards the Alps. When confronted with 550 m height difference, Hector spontaneously decides to stay at the Spitzingsee parking while I rent some snowshoes and start moving uphill.

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The path winds up through the forest and I try to enjoy the constant effort. Actually, most the time it is above all: effort. But even when wondering why I am doing all of this mountain exercise stuff, I still see the beauty that surrounds me and appreciate that I live just an hour away from the Alps.

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Most Attractive Sports Facilities around Munich

Approximately ½ of the altitude difference is spread over romantic paths in the forest. Now I look at the other half and I wonder: Shall I take the black ski slope, straight uphill? Or should I choose the natural mogul piste straight up?

With confidence in my snowshoes and based on the sheer ignorance of any appearing difficulty I manage to climb up the mogul field up to the peak of the Rosskopf. Sure enough I find the lazy skiers that use the ski lift hilariously unathletic. I pass them by in silence as I make my way to the cross.

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15th Peak 2017!

The view exceeds today’s expectations and that is not only due to sporty tour skiers changing their clothes. Two weather fronts struggle one against the other, leading to white-gleaming peaks beneath a fretful sky.

For the way down, I choose the black ski piste and my buttocks as extra breaks. 1,5 hours later I am back down at the Spitzingsee and enjoy the view on the frozen lake with the only required movement being the arm with the hot wine punch getting eventually up and down.

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Preparation: Is It Hot in Here?

As time moves on, great expectations build up sort of a pile. A pile of best expedition material. In this case: a sleeping bag that promises to keep my basic body functions up until -43° degrees Celsius.

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Dreaming of a White Christmas?

More important is: 90% of down are supposed to keep me warm and cosy even with temperatures falling below -13° Celsius, which is considerably cold for the inside of a Himalaya lodge. Still, it is months away, but with my equipment being ready, I allow myself to start dreaming of snow-white mountain peaks, of great nature and a wonderful experience.

Hard to imagine that I will really need such professional stuff, but good to know that I am definitely prepared – for whatever may come along.

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Dreaming of Himalaya Peaks

Preparation (12): Schinder – A Tough Tour

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The first November days show up with the last reminiscence of the splendid summer. Consequently, another hiking trio is up for the Bavarian foothills of the Alps.

Using the toll road towards Valepp, we start deep within the hilly forests between Tegernsee and Spitzingsee. As usual, our path has a clear direction (straight up!) and I wonder whose idea this has been…

 

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Uphill

After 1,5 hours we reach open meadows at the Trausnitzalm. With neither cows nor catering we only sit down for a short break before we continue our way up to the first peak of the Schinder.

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The path gets steeper and rougher while the horizon gets wider. The multifaceted tour with brooks to cross, trees to pass and small paths may be arduous, but never boring. In higher locations hiking sticks are welcome, apart from occasional rocks that are passed best with hands and feet for the way aloft.

Once on top of the 1808 m peak of the Austrian Schinder, we look out to the Großglockner, the Großvenediger and all the other peaks of the Alps.

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Room with a View

Tendency goes to two-peak-tours and thus we leave the first summit and hand ourselves down the furrow to the ridge between Austrian and Bavarian Schinder. The steel rope is more than welcome – and yet this still is the warm-up for the most interesting parts of the hike.

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The second summit offers a brand new cross and narrow rocks that we share with a handful of hikers. The sun breaks through thin clouds and the view presents the Alps with glistening snow on the distant peaks.

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What a joy knowing that from here on all we have to do is a bit of downhill wandering. At least this is true for the last half hour of the tour, but before that we have to face the way down the corrie. And, being part of it, the legendary Schindertor. Thanks to the steel ropes climbing is comfortable and exciting all the same:

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Through the Schindertor

Tons of scree carry us down reams of altitude meters, surrounded by a bizarre moon landscape in all shades of grey.

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Schinderkar

Looking back to the recently overstepped mountain tops is very satisfying. Little by little the path gets less rough and the landscape more mellifluous. 6,5 hours after our departure we arrive at the car, all proud of the 1.000 m height difference and the most interesting tour of the year.

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Preparation (11): Heimgarten & Herzogstand

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View on the Walchensee. And on fresh Snow in the Alps!

Some might wonder what motivates me to spend almost all of my weekends in the mountains with the effort of uphill-walking, sun protection and sweat. The answer is easy: it is all for the good of upcoming holidays. The better I train now, the less exhausting will be future trekking tours. The more I pimp my condition, the less difficulties I expect during walks on 4,000 meters above sea level (let alone the pass of 5,500 m). The more I walk the alps, the more I will enjoy the Himalaya. But that is far away in 2018, now let’s focus on the mountains around Munich.

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Average Equipent for good-looking Hikers

This time we are a group of four lovely ladies with a double peak tour ahead. The kick off at a comfortable time in the late morning comes along with endless hours of beauty sleep and puts some pressure on our peak performance: Winter time will cut daylight around 5 p.m., so we better not dawdle.

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Today’s Mountain Crew

The first section of the tour leads through autumn forest up to the Heimgarten. Today is a multiple-season-hiking-day with warming sun, icy paths, golden light and some snow, all changing within minutes. The North and shady parts of the hills cling to something around zero degrees Celsius while the sunny hillsides pretend to be stuck in late summer. On top of the world = peak with fresh wind from all sides, we appreciate that there are no worries about pick-nick food getting warm.

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Heimgarten Peak

From here we follow the ridge for a couple of kilometres. It is like walking on the back of a dragon with a lot of ups and downs on the dragon’s jags. With my affection for special ways, I enjoy the small path with downhill views on both sides: one side looks down to the Kochelsee, the other to the Walchensee.

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Ridge Between Heimgarten and Herzogstand (the Latter Visible in the Distance)

Parts of the path are quite icy and so I can proudly present another scar with a story. However, the fantastic panorama continues for about an hour until we reach the Herzogstand and the masses of tourists around the small pavilion. Being one of the most famous peaks close to Munich and given the funicular as transport-potential for the lazy, we share our second peak of the day with a friendly photographer and dozens of supernumeraries.

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Lucky us that most of the crowd is unwilling to take the foot path down. Bathed in golden light we zig zag down and arrive at the parking just in time before daylight finally fades.

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Our legs tell us something about 1.200 meters uphill and downhill and approximately 16 kilometers of distance. Statistics say that we climbed up 332 floors – that is more than twice the available levels of the world’s highest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Our bright eyes tell the story of a splendid day with an endless sky, white snowy peaks and blue lakes that reflect the colourful autumn leaves.

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What a Day! What a View! What a Wonderful Life

Preparation (10): Material Testing on the Rotwand

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It is around six in the morning when a strange noise disturbs my first coffee. I know this sound, but it has been a while that I have not heard it. It takes 30 seconds until I make it up: Rain! Somebody obviously ignores that rain has not been part of today’s plans.

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Autumn at the Pfanngraben

Thanks to the detailed weather app of bergfex, we decide to get going nonetheless and so the five of us start today’s hiking at Spitzingsee. Drizzle continues during the first hour of the tour, preventing glorious pictures of the fabulous gorge of Pfanngraben, containing basins of clear water and little waterfalls along the way.

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The higher we get, the brighter is the sky. Now that I know that my new outdoor equipment is indeed waterproof, I am fine with the drizzle having stopped. The path leads through meadows of summer’s mountain pasture, now deserted with all happy cows being either down in the cowshed or in Bavarian restaurants.

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A bit later today’s culinary destination is in sight: the Rotwandhaus with a kitchen crew that presents their whole menu with an extraordinary grasp for herbs, fresh ingredients and perfect food quality.

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Rotwandhaus in Sight

At first, we ignore the temptation of the alp and continue our way up until we reach the peak of the Rotwand. The sun rewards us with shy rays sent down through the cloudy sky and the peak adds a 360° view to it.

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View from the Rotwand (Fragment)

Now hunger and downhill gravitation work hand in hand and minutes later we catch the best table in the Rotwandhaus. Even with the mixed up weather there is quite some crowd in the alp – on sunny days, you should look for less frequented hiking peaks. Unless cuddling strangers is among your favourite hobbys, that is.

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For the way down, we choose the easy walking path that leads back to Spitzingsee in only 1 hour of walking for the 850 m altitude difference. Grazing sheep complete the typical mountain picture of the Bavarian frontyard hills and we are once more pleased with the beautiful hiking of the day.

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Downhill: Taking the Easy Way

The tenth peak of the year has been the first without muscle soreness, so at least I do make some progress. Still, I have five months yet to come until I need full strength, mountain routine and an expedition sleeping bag. That is what happens when being up for higher aims…

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Just One of my Peaks

Preparation (9): Mahnkopf / Karwendel

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Summer came back and October is as golden as you can imagine. Perfect conditions to pick up the preparation routine about running up that hill.

We have chosen the Mahnkopf for today, departing from the fairy tale mountain village Eng. Sunrise on the road was already stunning, best prefix for a wonderful day in the Karwendel mountains. The four of us start fresh and motivated into the 17 km tour, surrounded by one of the most charming parts of the Northern Alps.

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Walking trhough Eng

The height difference would be much more relaxed without the Hohljoch right below the rocky walls of the Laliderer Reisen: we lose at least 200m altitude difference before we reach the (currently closed) alp Falkenhütte.

 

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Laliderer Reisen

When we pass by the interim hill of the Ladizköpfl, we are rewarded with the view down to the Kleiner Ahornboden. The sun does all the effort to simulate a bright summers day: short trousers and t-shirts are way too much, but as hiking in a bikini is so not-state-of-the-mountain-art, we ignore the heat and continue our way up.

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Ascent to the Mahnkopf

The last section of the tour goes straight up the flank of the Mahnkopf, all steep and stony. The grass around the path is flat from the first seasonal snow – just 10 days ago all of this has been a winter wonder land. When we finally reach the peak, it is all worth it: a 360° panoramic view, mild sun and few hikers are all we need for a short rest.

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The way back is identical to the way up, including the Hohljoch-frustration of lost and heavily regained altitude meters. At a quarter past five we stumble in the Alpengasthof Eng and fall down on the benches, begging for food, drinks and coffee.

With quite some breaks and alpine pick nicks, the tour with roughly 1.300m altitude difference took us about 8 hours, mostly uphill. If not for the traffic jams, it would have been a great but exhausting day. Even with broken down traffic (Munich tourists, argh!) I would do it all over again, especially with the fantastic road-guidance from the back row, manoeuvring us toward Munich on tiniest roads!

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Preparation (8): Miss Riffelspitze

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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.

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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.

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right below the Zugspitze

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.

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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).

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Gratwanderung

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.

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no worries – the real climbing has been mostly harmlesss

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).

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Eibsee

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Hoellentalhuette

Höllentalangerhütte

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.

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Passing by the Waxenstein

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.

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back in the Höllentalklamm

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…

Preparation (7): Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Topping the foundation established by recent hiking weekends, today’s tour with 13,5 km + 960m altitude difference is supposed to be black = difficult. Except for the unforeseen challenge in finding the right turn at the right time it has been comparable to the mid-level tours we had just the other weeks. Anyway, I am sure that the route description could be followed easily as long as you hand over the itinerary to someone being less blonde before you leave the alp “Obere Firstalm”.

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Those who consider exact reading being too time-consuming may forget about the sidestep to the Bodenschneid alp and head directly to the Bodenschneid peak with its large cross and the wide view from the Brecherspitz to the Tegernsee. The cliff at the edge is the perfect location for a second breakfast and for resorting the planned route.

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View from Bodenschneid to the Tegernsee

We continue our way by crossing a steep meadow before we find back the correct path to the Rinnerspitz and thus the second peak of today’s tour. It is only the path to the 3rd peak Wasserspitz that is somehow hidden underneath the trees and the grass.

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Whoever finds out about the heart with the knife: tell me about it

We accept today being a lazy one with only 750m altitude difference over all. Lucky us that we reached the highest of the planned peaks and enjoyed the shortened tour like a relaxed walk in the park. Finally it is one of the base lines of the ancient philosopher Meatloaf: Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad!