Archive for the ‘German Alps’ Tag

Change of plan – mixed economy holiday

We were planning something similar to what we did a couple of years’ ago – Danube, Altmühltal, Taubertal and Maintal. In the end, we decided to mix cycling and walking. From our base in Munich we are tackling a few Alpine climbs and cycle-route classics. First up for walking, a circular walk featuring a peak called Bodenschneid (1668m). We are using the Hikeline Wanderführer (authored by Katharina Spannraft) as our guide (left). I sense that Ms Spannraft thinks that the German Alps are a bit tame. They are far from that.

We took the train to Fischausen-Neuhaus from Munich. It takes about one hour from Hauptbahnhof. The signage is very good – yellow signs with particular routes captured by coloured dots (right). Navigation, then, is not so difficult; though in bad weather, one would need to be very attentive as some additional green signs are, by definition, not so easy to see.

The first part from Neuhaus to Bodenschneidhaus (a welcome Alm eating house) is pretty simple – though the gradient is not trivial. The path is well defined and and made of stable gravel. However, from thereon, if the plan is to go to the summit, the path becomes less well defined and variously slippery, steep and ambiguous. At times of heavy rain, I suspect it becomes a river (left). At one point, the path is made up exclusively of exposed tree roots.

At the peak, of course, there is the obligatory cross. Bodenschneid’s is pretty impressive. And modern (right). As are the views (the sun thwarted my attempts at a good summit photo).

The signs to the tantalising Untere and Obere Firstalms were there at the summit. The route down is precarious and a stick is a major help as well as appropriate footwear.

We stopped at the Obere Firstalm – and we are glad that we did. Not only was the food ridiculously fine and generous (we had a vegan stuffed pepper), but necessary to complete the walk despite earlier sandwiches.

The route back starts with a steep track cut into the side of the hill. For about 50m one joins the road but very quickly goes left into the forest in the direction of Josefsthal. The forest is dense, but one is rewarded by a waterfall (right). The walk through Josefthal is dull. We missed the train by 6 minutes. They are hourly. There are no pubs – though there is a restaurant just to the South that seemed pretty busy when we passed.

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Das Brauneck from Lenggries

20160402_170037Das Brauneck is a mountain of 1540m accessed from Lenggries (left), a classic wealthy rural town in southern Bavaria. It does not have a pointy peak but in the winter it hosts a ski slope. And in the spring it persists as a ski slope, facilitated by snow-making machines dotted along the piste. 20160402_131200

Ask at the cable car ticket office and they will tell you that there is no open path to the summit. Walk the 30 minutes to the Reisealm (910m), a delightful eatery and hotel through the forest, and they will advise the same. My advice, ignore them, but be prepared. There is the false sense of security when one leaves the 20160402_132952Reisealm. It all seems benign (right). But the snowline is around the corner. Unlike our walk on Monday, the gradient is starker. At various points one essentially has to climb the piste (left) and that takes considerable energy, poise and a bit of nerve (at least for a novice like me). It is also clear that there is no way back! And the signage is largely non-existent. There are yellow signs at the top and base, but the route is made up as one goes. Fortunately at this time of year, the piste is quiet. Seemingly the snow is just a little too wet. This is the time of year for higher altitude skiing.

Talking of which, it makes a difference. A number of years ago I hiked in the Moroccan Atlas 20160402_153216Mountains. We peaked at 4000m. I suppose on that basis I thought 1500m would not cause a problem. I was wrong. The photo on the right is a relieved hydrated man at the peak with a sandwich inside him.

20160402_154002Getting back is a cinch, though not cheap. We took the cable car, itself pretty spectacular (left).

Equipment wise, I am wearing North Face Northotic Pro boots. My partner wears Salewa Blackbird Evo GTX (both bought as last year’s model – North Face from Millets in England, 20160403_122241Salewa from TK Maxx in Gemany).

A couple of sticks are essential kit. Crampons maybe next year.