Posted by: hikingaustria | August 1, 2012

Großes Hundhorn, St. Martin bei Lofer

Yesterday I decided to climb the Großes Hundhorn in St. Martin. There are several possible routes including a direct ascent from Strowolln via the Scheffsnother Alm. I didn’t much fancy this as I have already climbed up to the Scheffsnother Alm that way 4 times this year so I fancied a change. I opted for the route via the Leimbichlgräben, starting at Hirschbichl. The first part of the walk was identical to this hike as far as the Hundalm. The only difference was that this year it only took be 2 hours to reach the Hundalm compared to 2.5 hours last time. The alm was equally muddy and disgusting to walk over!

At the Hundalm there is an almhut and just beyond this, there is a signpost indicating the way to the Großes Hundhorn. It suggests 2 hours to reach the peak – it took me 1.5 hours. The path heads up gently to the Hundsattel and is not particularly demanding. At the saddle it doubles back on itself and continues gently upwards to what appears to be the peak. It isn’t of course because this is Austria…. the actual peak is another half an hour further on after a short descent and then an ascent which in some places requires some mild scrambling. There are great views from the top of the Reiteralpe, Loferer and Leoganger Steinberge as well as down towards Unken.

I returned to the Hundsattel and then returned via the Scheffsnother Alm and the steep descent to Strowolln and St. Martin.

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Posted by: hikingaustria | July 29, 2012

Day 4: August-Schuster Haus to Unterammergau

There isn’t much to say about the last day of the tour. I took the easy option along the forestry road to Unterammergau which was completely unremarkable and took around an hour and a half from the hut to the railway station in Unterammergau which I reached 5 minutes before the train left – perfect time. I had considered a ridge walk to Oberammergau but I wasn’t happy with the look of the weather so I opted out. This ridge walk passes over the Sonnenberggrat, Sonnenberg and Am Zahn, allegedly taking about 3 and a half hours.

So the tour finished easily and I returned home to find out that we had had terrible weather in Austria for most of the week while I had enjoyed gorgeous sunshine in Germany!

Posted by: hikingaustria | July 28, 2012

Day 3: Brunnenkopfhäuser to the August Schuster Haus

Day 3 began with an easy walk along a forestry road followed by a narrow path through the forest. There were good views down to Schloss Linderhof and the gardens. I even caught a glimpse of the fountains at one point. After about an hour the path forked – straight on led directly to the August-Schuster Haus, supposedly taking a maximum of 2 hours. I chose the path to the left which wound up the grassy bankside. This route is a longer way to the hut taking in 3 peaks along the way.

The first of the 3 peaks was the Hennenkopf. The Hennenkopf is not directly along this path although it appears to be on the map. There is a scrambly route up the back of the Hennenkopf which forks away from the main route, however it is clearly signposted.

On the Hennenkopf

Returning the way I came (the guidebook claims the route goes directly over the Hennenkopf but is difficult to find – non-existent more like) the route continued downhill for a while and then flattened out as it traversed below the north side of the ridge. There is supposedly a short side-route to the Laubeneck (the 2nd peak) but I totally missed that and was rounding the corner of the Laubeneck, continuously descending before I realized that the peak was well behind me. This part of the route around the Laubeneck was tricky with some scrambling passages which are always more intimidating downhill. It wasn’t far from there to a saddle, about 30 minutes maybe. At this point I took the path to the left up to the Teufelstättkopf. This was steep and secured with a cable although not long. It was quite exposed and might cause problems for people with vertigo. I met a man just below the final climb whose friends had left him there because he really couldn’t do the last 30 m. He wasn’t particularly bothered though – he just sat there munching his sandwiches. It took about 30 minutes from the peak to reach the August-Schuster Haus, also known as the Pürschlinghaus. It took just over 4 hours to complete the route from Brunnenkopfhäuser so I had the whole afternoon to relax. I could easily have completed the route down to Unterammergau on the same day which means this tour is definitely possible in 3 days for those who don’t have as many days off as I do.

There were only 3 guests in the August-Schuster Haus overnight but there was still a great atmosphere. The hosts were a lovely couple and great fun. They thought I was Swiss too from my “dialect” and said they wouldn’t have guessed that German isn’t my first language – so that made me very happy!

 

 

The day started with a gentle 240 m climb up to the Bäckenalmsattel.

Bäckenalmsattel

I took the path to the left up to the Hirschwanghütte. I found this part the worst of the entire route despite the horror stories about the Klammspitzgrat itself in the Kenzenhütte the previous night. It was muddy underfoot and slippy as well as being very overgrown. I was also very slow over this part because of the conditions and lost quite a lot of time. Once past the Hirschwanghütte the going was a lot easier as the path continued ever upwards to the Feigenkopf. This was a gorgeous ridge walk with fine views in all directions including towards the Klammspitz.

A view back towards the Hochplatte (crossed on day 1 of the tour) from the Feigenkopf

From here, the Klammspitzgrat looked pretty terrifying aside from the fact it was obvious how much descent was to come before ascending again.

The Klammspitzgrat with the Klammspitze in the centre of the picture

The path headed downhill very steeply and was very exposed. An excellent head for heights is necessary here, not to mention alpine experience and a very sure step. It didn’t bother me too much but a lot of people would find it very challenging. Once down to the saddle, there was plenty of height to be regained and also several downhill sections just as I thought I was beginning to make progress upwards to the peak! There were also a couple of tricky climbing passages with cables for assistance however the cables were loose and not much use so I ended up free-climbing down backwards.

I eventually reached the top of the Große Klammspitze which was jam packed with 40 German soldiers on exercise who had climbed up from Schloss Linderhof. The descent from the peak required quite a bit of scrambling and was exposed in places. There followed a lot of descending zigzags on scree followed by a long traverse below a ridge which constantly gained height again until finally the hut came into view. It took me 7 hours from hut to hut including nearly an hour lunchbreak on top of the Klammspitze.

A view back along the last part of the route from the Klammspitze to the Brunnenkopfhäuser

The Brunnenkopfhäuser is a very small, rustic hut with minimal facilities. There are long-drop toilets outside with a small “Waschhäusl” containing one sink with cold water for washing. There is a matratzenlager with space for 36 people to sleep. However, the hut was very cosy and there was a great atmosphere in the evening.

The washing facilities at the Brunnenkopfhäuser

 

Posted by: hikingaustria | July 28, 2012

Tegelberghaus to the Kenzenhütte over the Hochplatte

I travelled to Füssen by train and bus from Salzburg and cheated by taking the Tegelbergbahn up to the Tegelberghaus. This was due to shortage of time rather than laziness! The Tegelberghaus is a private hut which has seen better days but nevertheless it was a useful overnight stop allowing an early start the following day – although we had to persuade the management to serve breakfast at 7.30 am as they weren’t very keen on serving breakfast before 8.30 am. It is a long hike to the Kenzenhütte and important to get going early.

The first part of the route was relatively flat through forest until  a signpost for the Ahornsattel was reached. Here the path splits and the route to the Kenzenhütte heads uphill for a short while to the Ahornsattel, rounds the Straußbergköpfl  and then heads to the Niederstraußbergsattel. The route traverses the side of the Niederer Straußberg before heading up to the Gabelschrofensattel – I counted 17 zigzags. At the Gabelschrofensattel it is possible to head straight down to the Kenzenhütte but I wanted to tackle the Hochplatte so I took the path to the right up to the Krähe, a peak at 2012 m. There were a couple of climbing passages involved here which were not secured with a cable. They were not particularly difficult but some people might find them exposed and nerve-wracking. On top of the Krähe a strong wind was blowing which made me wonder whether I should avoid the Hochplatte by bailing out at the next opportunity. The path heads downhill from the Krähe and along the sheltered side of the ridge to the Fensterl – a window in the rock. There is a direct route to the Kenzenhütte which begins by climbing through the window – I did not take this route but a couple I met in the next hut did. They said the way down from there was very steep and over scree and they found it strenuous. In fact they took nearly as long via this shortcut as I did over the Hochplatte. However, they suffered from vertigo and were unsure of the Hochplatte so it was probably for the best that they took the “shortcut”.

The “Fensterl” along the route to the Hochplatte. The direct descent to the Kenzenhütte begins on the other side of this window in the rock

I continued straight on past the Fensterl and began the ascent to the Hochplatte. This was an exposed route along a ridge over rocky terrain. As I climbed higher the wind blew harder and it was really quite terrifying at times. The path was about 15 cm wide and to the right there was a narrow rocky outcrop about knee height. I had to kneel down with my back to the wind and hug the outcrop as I waited for the wind to die down as it was impossible to stand up without the risk of being blown off. The wind was not forecast and had blown up suddenly. There was no sign of a lessening of the wind so I began to edge sideways along the ridge on my knees holding tight to the outcrop until the route thankfully crossed to the sheltered side of the ridge and descended a little. Here there was a section to climb down – about 7 m – with a cable to help. This section was qutie difficult. After that the path headed back up again onto the ridge, eventually reaching the west peak of the hochplatte and a little further on, the east peak with the cross on top of the peak.

A view along the ridge on the approach to the Hochplatte

After lunch on the Hochplatte (on the sheltered side!) I began the descent which was initially a long ridge walk, gradually losing height.

A view back up to the Hochplatte, taken during the descent of the ridge.

It took nearly 3 hours to hike down from the Hochplatte to the Kenzenhütte via the Weitalpjoch and Lösertaljoch. There were no particular technical difficulties – it was just a long way! It was wonderful to see the hut and hear the people sitting on the terrace after a long but enjoyable day. I took about 6 and a half hours in total, including breaks.

The Kenzenhütte was very “gemütlich” with good food, hot showers (extra charge) and good company. There was a group there who had come from the Brunnenkopfhäuser via the Klammspitzgrat (our route for the next day) and they were full of horror stories about it and how horrendous it was. That made me a little worried for the next day but I did wonder if they were exaggerating somewhat!

Alpenglühen by the Kenzenhütte – a rare phenomenon which occurs at sunset making the mountains glow red.

 

 

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