Triple Feature: Transcending the Geierköpfe

7:40 a.m. at the Plansee

Why do I get up at 4:30 a.m. on a free Saturday?
Because serious mountain tours might need a buffer for the unforeseen.

Still early, nice and calm

Together with experienced hiking buddy Gunther, we start at 7:45 at the Plansee and make our way towards the Geierköpfe. The tour description says something about 1.240m altitude difference spread over 10,8km. So much for the theory of it.

Rural Trail

The trail is multifaceted, sometimes mellifluous and sometimes rough, and we gain height rapidly. Almost right from the start, we are rewarded with beautiful views over the Plansee and the Ammergauer Alpen.

Ascent Outlook

Having learnt from my previous hike, I assert slow but steady speed and within less than 3 hours, we arrive at the Western summit of the Geierköpfe-triptyche.

Hiking the Alps
Nonchalant: Easily Reached Peak (Westgipfel)

Despite the early hour, quite some hikers gather up here. I am motivated as a chamois, all fit and enchanted by our surrounding. From the Westgipfel, a trail follows the ridge towards the main summit. Of course, we will continue to the next level, no doubt about our peak performance!

See the slender Line atop the Ridge in the background? We are up to follow that Trail towards Main Peak

Every here and there, the flanks of the ridge leave only inches for a small trail, but most of the way is wide enough for comfortable footsteps.

Hiking the Alps
I tend to like it up here

After all, this is exactly the setting that I prefer for a serious mountain tour. I like the sensation of a spectacular surrounding and enjoy every minute up here.

Walk the Line

The final sprint to the main peak is seriously uphill on dry gravel and brings us to a halt on 2.161m above sea level.

Peak in Sight: Up to the Hauptgipfel

The cross comes with a rough DIY charm, but just like us: at least it made it up here! Thin air and chats with other hikers pave the way for the decision of the day: Come on, it is all so great, let’s continue to the third of the 3 peaks!

…then on top (2.161m)…

That being said, we put on our helmets (decent detail when climbing in crumbly rock) and off we go.

The Motivated Chamois of the Day

The description from here on is vague, but mentions something about “free climbing level 2” – something I have not experienced yet and hence do not worry too much.

Beyond defined Tracks

The trail becomes more and more interesting. Intense, even. It certainly is not a bad idea to remain concentrated, especially when seeking the best route down the climbing passages that enrich the way between main peak and Eastern peak.

Just a bit of Free Climbing > 2.000m

Looking for the announced climbing section and having no clue of what that might look like, we come to a halt at a dead-end rock. The only way further is either via (under) overhanging rocks or down a vertical crag. Hm…

Having no clue what “second degree of free climbing” means, I wonder: perhaps down here?

Even I have some doubts if this is the right way and/or if it suits our abilities. Lucky us that 4 youngsters come their way with one of them having experienced the route some years ago. He confirms that the climbing of this tour is much more harmless than the walls beneath our feet. Light-hearted, we follow the know-how-guys to the 3rd peak and find it all easy enough.

The Ostgipfel is barely marked, yet the way to it is so worth it!

What comes next is learning: It slowly dawns on me that the 1.240m altitude difference include only the Western peak with the same being true for the expected total of 6 hours. As of now, we enjoyed our hike for full 5 hours and now have to figure out how to get back and down. Option A: Straight back on the same route, including climbing and ridge and quite some loss-and-regain of altitude meters. At this point, it seems that option B is the more reasonable one: Cross-country straight down until we reach a horizontal (or so it seems) path, accept a bit of a opposing climb and then, finally, get down.

Between the Peaks and the Options

We go for B and I find myself swearing and grumbling. The mountain pines jump in my way, the so-called horizontal trail is an up-and-down rollercoaster and the entire distance more than I have asked for. Still, I would not trade our tour for any lazy hour on the couch. It takes some effort to be here, but I am willing to appreciate the sweat and the muscle soreness!

From the Lake, via the Col and up to Westgipfel, then following the Ridge: Half of our Tour in 1 Picture

The last third of our descent tempts us to a half-knowledge decision: A short note in the tour description recommends a sideway via Schönjöchl – it just forgets to mention that it includes passing by a forth peak and adds about 150m altitude difference! Half way to it, we perceive the hard facts and turn around, finally taking the original way down. Around 6:00 p.m. we are back and safe at the Plansee, greedy for a portion of French fries and yearning for laziness on the sofa.

With all sidesteps, trials and detections, we had been en route for full 10 hours, walked up and down roughly 1.700m on a track of ca. 15km. Hard to imagine anyone better for such a tour than hiking bro Gunther – thanks for company, planning and fantastic pictures. The greatest mountain tour I ever experienced – all great!

>1.600m altitude difference14-15 km10hchallenging

Hiking the Alps: Overview

Alpspitze Via FerrataZugspitzregion2019
AuerbergAllgäu2017
Bodenschneid & RinnerspitzSpitzingsee2017
Drei ZinnenDolomiten2017
Feichteck & KarkopfChiemgau2020
GeierköpfeAmmergauer Alpen2020
GeigelsteinChiemgau2020
Hausbachfall Via FerrataReit im Winkl2019
Heimgarten & HerzogstandBayr. Voralpen2017
HennenkopfAmmergauer Alpen2017
HeubergChiemgau2020
HirschbergTegernsee2020
HochplatteChiemgau2019
HochriesChiemgau2018
HochstaufenChiemgau2019
Hofer AlplSchlern Rosengarten2019
HöllentalklammZugspitzregion2016
KampenwandChiemgau2017
KarspitzeChiemgau2020
MahnkopfKarwendel2017
RiffelspitzeZugspitzregion2017
RosskopfSpitzingsee2017
RotwandSpitzingsee2017
SäntisAppenzell2014
ScheinbergspitzeAmmergauer Alpen2020
SchinderMangfallgebirge2017
SchwarzenbergChiemgau2020
SeebergkopfMangfallgebirge2017
SpitzsteinChiemgau2017
Torkopf via Torscharte(coming soon)
Val CluozzaSchweizer Nationalpark2015
WankZugspitzregion2016

Work-Hike-Balance: Scheinbergspitze featuring Hector

Office Inside

Hector is happy again, and when Hector is happy, I am happy.

Together, we combine a working day at Augsburg, a camping stop-over at Lechbruck and a challenging tour around the Kenzenhütte. At least, that is the plan on Thursday. Even though I work for some hours when sitting on Hector’s couch, the overall situation feels like a micro-holiday.

Opening Hector’s Door: Stunning

Based on Hector’s feel-good qualities, I sleep like a baby and wake up around 5 a.m. on a beautiful Friday morning. Under an incredible sunrise-sky and over a cup of coffee, I check the weather apps, the tour description and the various variables of today’s schedule. Then I start to think: Isn’t it all about a good work-hike-balance?

Question of the day is, if I will I find the right paths without mistakes or doubts (meaning: loss of time). Will I successfully transcend two summits before the predicted, dramatic weather front strikes? Will I catch the rare hiking busses in time – and what about alternatives to the foreseen setting?

Today’s Choice of a Trail

The alternative turns out to be preferable, and an hour later, Hector rolls towards Linderhof, one of Ludwig II’s famous castles. Just a few kilometres next to it is a neat little trail up to the Scheinbergspitze. The altitude difference is fine (900Hm), the expected length (4 – 4,5 hours) smoothly fits into the weather development and the region (Ammergauer Alpen) is just fine.

…then on the way towards the peak…

The perfect preparation for another tour and another weekend is: failure. Near-miss, to be more precise. Two hours after the start of the ascent, I stagger towards the cross. Exhausted, out of breath and sweating like hell, it is embarrassing for a trail flagged blue = easy. Besides daily fitness, an exaggerated start and the aim to accelerate my uphill velocity almost disabled me reaching the top. I am stunned how hard this tour feels, and I lack the trekking poles that are stored in Hector’s bathroom (“A blue tour with less than 1.000 Hm? I will surely not need them!”). Yet, the harder achieved, the more rewarding is a challenge fulfilled.

Finally!

I spend quite some time on the Scheinbergspitze, soaking in the 360° view. Eventually I hop down, clenching my teeth when slipping and sliding on the steep gravel paths. At late noon-time, when Hector turns North towards home, I remark the darkened skies in the rear mirrors, confirming today’s choice. Given my disrupted speed performance and the witnessed weather change, the work-hike-balance is proved to be a clear match by the end of August. Even more as it might have built an almost ideal base for more challenging goals – but that is another story for another day…

The Surrounding: Ammergauer Alps
Great, after all
900m altit. difference6,5 km3:30hharmless

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?

2019_10_13_A2a

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