Panoramic summit in the Karwendel mountains
Even if you have to climb almost 4000 ft. to the summit, this tour is easy to do as long as you are in good shape. The ascent is long but not too steep and you will be rewarded with fantastic views of the Karwendel mountains. Due to the excellent connection with public transportation from/to Lenggries you can leave your car at home. During the tour you will come to the Tölzer Hütter a marvellous spot for a lunch break. At the end of the tour there is another mountain restaurant waiting for you.
The journey to the mountains
This summer was long and hot and so I couldn’t go hiking as often as I wanted to. When the temperature finally fell below 86 F and no thunderstorms were announced I just had to go. Early in the morning I am taking the train from Munich to Lenggries. From there I continue with the Bergsteigerbus (sorry only in German) direction Engalm. The departure time of the bus is matched with the arrival of the train so you don’t have to wait for a long time. Soon I have reached the starting point at the „Aufstieg Tölzer Hütte“. It’s 9 a.m. and here at about 3000 ft. it still is fresh. Full of energy and anticipation I start todays hike.
At the beginning I walk along a rocky forest trail. It is good to walk and climbs slowly towards the summit. At the end of August there aren’t that many flowers around but there are other interesting things to see along the path. Just like this tree trunk with holes in it. I enjoy this crisp and invigorating mountain air. Magnificent! Slowly I find my rhythm and realize that my muscles are coming into operational mode. Every now and then I get a peek of the dramatic Karwendel mountains through the trees. Todays tour leads through the German-Austrian border area. The summit itself sits right on the border.
A short time after I see the Lalider walls for the first time. That brings back memories of one of my favourite tours. Here’s the link. The trail is winding itself slowly uphill in long turns. Here in the woods it still is pleasantly fresh. The sun is shining from a deep blue sky and on the occasions where it is possible I enjoy great views. That enhances the anticipation of the summit. The view shoud be spectacular today.
And then I do find some flowers along the path. Not as exotic and spectacular as in spring and early summer but still very pretty. Even the trail is not too steep I quickly gain height.
On a clearing this beautiful Bavarian Gentian is smiling at me. Short time after I come across this spongy mushroom. Looks like one of those real sponges from the sea you can buy for your bathroom. On Wikipedia I read that you can’t eat this mushroom but it makes gret decoration material in your house. I think there are nicer things to be placed in my home.
After about 1.5 hours I am leaving the woods and come into open terrain. That makes even more spectacular panoramic views. I can see the summit of the Soiernspitze in the Bavarian part of the Karwendel nature park. Fantastic. Whenever I get such views I realise why I am taking this agony of ascending these mountains. Such panoramic views you will only get when you climb a mountain. Tell me. Isn’t that impressive?
Soon after I reach this bifurcation. There are two choices how to continue. I choose the left trail that leads through a light forest and soon I get the first glimpse of the Tölzer Hütte. That’s my first goal for today. What would a hike in the mountains be without a break in one of those great rustic cabins. Two guys that have chosen the right trail do arrive just shortly after me. I can’t tell for sure but I do believe that you will get the better views if you take a left at that bifurcation. To me it looked like the right trail is leading through some kind of a valley to the top.
I am full of admiration of this great scenery – the Karwendel mountains are for me one of the most impressive massifs in the Alps – and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Let me give you some background info on those mountains. The name derives from the old German family name of Gerwentil and was originally used for the Karwendel valley next to Scharnitz in Austria. To the west it borders on Seefeld, Tirol and the Isar valley, to the north it spreads to the Isarwinkel and Sylvensteinspeicher (an artificial lake), to the east the border is the Achensee and to the south it spreads all the way to Innsbruck. Characteristic are the rocky summits made of chalk that rise up to 9000 ft. (Birkarspitze).
All of a sudden I realise a movement next to me. I have to admit that I was startled for a short time. There are adders in this region. But today it is just the toad you can see above. I am surprised to see one here on the mountain where there is no water around.
The closer I get to the cabin the better gets the view of the Delpsjoch next to it. From the west it looks like a grassy mountain but on the eastern side you see the dramatic break-off on the summit. Together with the opposite ridge of the Schafreuter it bilds a dell with grazing cattle. And then I do reach the Tölzer Hütte.
The Tölzer Hütte
The Tölzer Hütte (sorry only in German) sits on 6000 ft. which means that I did already climb about 2700 ft. today. Most certainly I will have a break here. First of all I enjoy a non-alocoholic beer. This brings back some energy that I will need for the rest of the ascent of about 850 ft. On top I am hungry and I have to choose between bacon-, cheese- or spinach dumplings. I am going for the cheese version and they are delicious. All natural and home made with ingredients from the area. That’s what I call sustainable. Great! With my money I not only support the innkeepers but also the farmers in the area and therefore am doing my part to keep old traditions alive.
With such a gorgeous surrounding it is hard to get up and continue the hike. So I am having another non-alcoholic beer and enjoy the great weather. But at one point I have to get going. I don’t want to sleep up here. Despite it being one of my points on my bucket list. Right behind the cabin the trail rises for a short time steeply over very rocky terrain.
The final ascent
It looks more dramatic than it actually is. If you wear good shoes this part is no problem. Provided it is dry. But today I don’t have to worry about this. There still is no cloud to see on the sky. Only deep blue.
Just a few steps below the summit there is a „forest“ made of cairns. I couldn’t find out if this has a special meaning. Usually they are being built as signs showing you the way when there are no other signs. The cairns here were supposedly built as a form of art.
It is very interesting to see and these pieces of art make a nice detail on the pictures with the great panorama of the Karwendel as a backdrop. Don’t you think?
Only a few minutes later I am finally at the top of the mountain and can enjoy a breathtaking 360° panorama. It smells strongly of cow manure and so it is no suprise when a fellow hiker that arrives just after me says that he now knows why this mountain is called Schfareuter (Schaf meaning sheep).
The summit cross
In 2016 the summit cross was hewn with an axe by a lunyatic, dammaging it that bad that it had to be taken down. The same guy has apparently dammaged 2 other crosses in the same way. A few weeks later a few young men – apparently belonging to a right extremist group – deploy a new cross. This was replaced by the section Tölz of the German Alpine Association. The new cross was found a month later totaly destroyed on the summit. Why the hell are they doing such things?
From the summit I have a view over the complete Karwendel massif. To the north I can see way down in the valley the Sylvensteinspeicher and the alpine upland. I love this change between green grassy mountains and the rocky summits. I am overwhelmed. Despite the smell I spend a few minutes on top of the summit before I start the descent.
The northwestern side of the mountain is grassy and therefore easy to walk. If you think the direct path from the Tölzer Hütte is too difficult for you you can traverse below the summit and ascent via the Kälbereck which is on 5800 ft. I would assume that this path will take about twice as long as the direct ascent.
On the western side of the moutnain I see a big golden stain in the rocks. It really shimmers like pure precious metal in the sun. But I don’t think that this is real. Otherwise somebody would have taken it already. A last time my sight goes to the Lalider walls before I walk across the pasture towards the valley.
When I turn around to look back at the summit I can see this white cloud coming up behind it. This wasn’t there 10 minutes ago. The weather in the mountains can change quickly. On a perfect blue sky there can be dark clouds with a potential of a storm within minutes. I have witnessed such changes already. There are more and more clouds showing up on the sky but only the harmless white ones that cater to the cliché of the typical blue and white of Bavaria.
The path leads now through a forest of mountain pine along a rock fall. But even if you are afraid of heights you should be able to manage this. Occasionally it is a bit rocky but not dramatically.
After about 45 minutes I reach the Moosenalm that sits in a small hollow between pastures and rocks. This alp is private and so no place for a break with a fresh drink. That’s a shame. It has a pittoresque surrounding. On the other hand my tour will be ending at the Oswaldhütte. There I can get a fresh drink.
Shortly behind the Moosenalm there is a junction and the marked path leads through a somewhat swampy terrain before it runs steeply and difficult to walk into the valley. Usually I do prefer such paths over a road but this one did get so strenous that I did wish I wouldn’t have taken this turn. The whole tour was rather easy to walk but this last stretch did take more of my energy than the rest of the hike. Therefore I would recommend to stay on the forest road that is the access road for the Moosenalm. It may take a bit longer but you won’t be completely exhausted when you arrive at the Oswaldhütte.
Finally I can see the Oswaldhütte and therefore I do have my goal in front of me. Just before I do reach the cabin I can hear water burbling in a creek. That’s exactly what I need now. Cold water to sink my feet in. So I turn off my shoes and socks and treat myself to a benefaction. This has never felt better. Despite my long breaks at the Tölzer Hütte and the summit I have to wait fo 2 hours before the bus to Lenggries is picking me up. But at the Oswaldhütte the waiting time is fun. I have a fresh non-alcoholic beer in front of me and a great view of the mountains. What else do I need? This ends another perfect day in the mountains and I am looking forward to my next hike.
I hope you liked this post as well as my others and please do not hesitate to send me your comments.