Laber and Ettaler Mandl

Really outstanding mountain panorama with a view of the Zugspitze awaits you during this tour. Sure, there is a road in the valley that connects Oberammergau and Ettal but this would mean that you miss the great views of the surrounding mountains. To reach the summit of the Ettaler Mandl you will have to climb a bit but the route is secured with wire rope and even beginners can do this. I really enjoyed it. At the top of the Laberbergbahn you will find a restaurant where you will not only get great food but also a breathtaking view. The tour is not too strenuous since the ascent is not that steep. What are you waiting for?

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differnce in height: 3,150 ft. in the ascent, 3,000 ft. in the  descent

walking time: 5h 50 min.

Our winter was rather mild but in March in it came with full force. Especially over the Easter weekend there was heavy snowfall in the mountains. So I had to wait until the end of April before I was able to go on my first hike. To open the season I chose a tour that was not really heavy duty but still gave great panoramic views.

At 7:30 a.m. I am standing at Munichs main station and want to board the train that’ll bring me to Oberammergau. Unfortunately the rail tracks were barred due to an accident and I was told to take the suburban train to Pasing where there will be a bus shuttle service bringing me to Tutzing. When I arrived in Pasing I was looking for the bus but couldn’t find it. So I go to the information desk, wondering if there is already someone that early in the morning. I am lucky in 2 senses. There is somebody and the lady tells me that the suspension is finished and I can get the train I originally planned to go on. 2 hours later I am in Oberammergau.

As a kid I have been there already once. A lot of people have heard of the famous passion play (sorry there is no englisch site) showing the last days of Jesus. The first time it was shown in 1634 and since 1680 they do play it every 10 years (the next date will be 2020). Reason for the play was a promise given when the plague was ravaging the village. The actors are the locals living in ths village. Oberammergau is also known for the murals called „Lüftlmalerei“. They do exist the all over the region but nowhere in such an concentration. With a small detour you can look at these works of art. Or you just enjoy the slide show below. Some of the pictures date from a second visit, hence the clouds.

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It’s really pretty to look at but I am not sure if I would come here just because of it. So when you are in the region go visit the village.

But now it’s time for the mountain. At first you have to cross town . Along St.-Lukas street you follow the signs leading to the open air bath WellenBerg which is very nice and the valley station of the Laberberg cabin. From the train station to the cabin you walk about 1,5 miles. A good leg to warm up.

After a while the road leads to a trail that follows the river „Ammer“. You are still in the middle of town but it is definetly getting more quiet here.

Three weeks ago this was still covered with a good amount of snow. A few days with sunshine and springlike temperatures have changed the scenery and everything is green and in full bloom. That’s what I like about spring when mother nature is coming to life again.

Large trees are offering shade while I continue to walk along the creek and I now see those beautiful meadows shining in a bright yellow.

Soon I reach the WellenBerg. Through the fencing I can see the lawn and the still empty basins. Looks very nice and clean. I think it would be great to come back and spend a day swimming here.

The valley station of the cabin is only a few steps away now. Just this small waterfall and the chapel hidden in the woods are separating me from it.

Here I have to cross the parking lot and look for the sign leading me to the summit of the Laber. That’s easy to find and so I can start the ascent. A few quick shots of the snow covered summits around and off I go.

Crossing a meadow the path leads uphill. Soon I get a great view of the mountains and the beautiful scenery around me. At the moment there are only a few other hikers around. That’ll change later on. Especially on the summit I will meet other hikers and excursionists that didn’t want to walk up the mountain.

At the edge of the forest and on the meadow I can marvel at the first spring flowers. The yellow flower on the top right is a wild primrose the ancestor of the ones you can see in many gardens in the spring time. When I was a kid we used to collect large bouquets and bring them home. They have a nice and decent scent. You can pick the flowers, but taking the roots is prohibited.

A few minutes later I reach a forest road. Here I have to decide wether I want to continue via the Soilasee, a small lake, or take the route leading me across the Schartenköpfe, a ridge leading to the summit of the Laber. The sign towards the Schartenköpfe has a note saying only for experienced hikers. As long as you are not afraid of heights and sure-footed you can ignore it. This is the trail with the greater views.

When you are on that path that you see above you will come along a watering hole and then see a rock sitting in the meadow. I only recognized at the second sight that I will have to take a left here and follow the path into the woods. From time to time you see the gondolas of the cabin flying over your head but most of the time you rather just hear them.

Soon the path runs uphill along a forest aisle and with every foot I gain in height I get a more spectacular view of Oberammergau and the valley. On this path there aren’t many people. Did they get scared by the sign „for experienced hikers only“? I do enjoy the fresh spring air and continue uphill.

At the Laberberg alp I reach the next crossing. Here I can go back down to that lake or continue my way to the summit. On the hillside in front of me I can see signs that have been used for the skiers during the winter. And I am standing in front of the first of quite a few snow fields I will have to cross during the rest of my ascent.

From time to time I see holes in the snow where fellow hikers before me did sink in all the way to their knees. I am lucky and can always find foot prints that allow me to cross those fields without getting wet. There is still a lot of snow around and at some points it is rather difficult to see where the path continues.

The closer I get to the summit of the Schartenkopf the rockier the mountain above becomes. Don’t worry this is not the part where you will have to climb,yet.

A few steps berfore reaching this summit the scenery opens up in the southwestern direction and I get a great view of the Zugspitze. It’s not too far away and when we’re talking about Germany’s highest mountain it’s pretty clear that it has to dominate the region.

I finally do reach the summit of the Schartenkopf. From here on you will have to be sure footed and not afraid of heights. It’s name means head of the notches and to it’s sides you have steep cliffs falling down. But it offers a breathtaking panoramic view.

To the north you overlook the valley of the Ammer and the alpine upland. To the south Kloster Ettal is at your feet and behind the mountain range called Wetterstein with the Zugspitze at it’s western end. These are the moments when I realize why am doing such crazy hikes with the ordeal of the ascent. It is such an uplifting feeling on top of those mountains. I allow myself a few minutes to take in this great view.

The path to the moutain station of the gondolas leads along a small ridge but is easy to walk. Sometimes it is bordered by mountain pine sometimes by spruce which means that you will have loop holes to enjoy the panorama.

All of a sudden you will get a first glimpes of the 2 fingers forming the summit of the Ettaler Mandl. Even when you have reached the highest point of your tour when you reach the mountain station you will not find a cross. It is just the highest point of the ridge that I just have crossed.

Finally comes the second best moment of every tour. I am standing on the terrace of the restaurant at the end of the mountain gondola Laberbergbahn with a really breathtaking  view. In the far you see the Wetterstein mountains and a sumit called Kramer in front. Somewhere in between the two is Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

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I have earned a hearty lunch now. The first non-alcoholic beer fizzles down my throat and the salad made of sausage and cheese arrives in no time. It is presented very nicely and the serving would actually be enough for 2 meals. I have a long descent in front of me so I can burn off all those calories again.

As beautiful as it is here, at one point I do have to continue. There is one more summit waiting for me.

Right next to the restaurant I take a few more shots of the northern view into the alpine upland and off I go. The Ettaler Mandl sits on a lower elevation so I continue downhill. After a few steps I can finally see that small lake I have read about earlier on those signs.

On this side of the mountain the path leads too along some cliffs through the forest. Since I am now walking on the southern side of the mountain the snow is gone. I was fearing that the rocky summit of the Ettaler Mandl will be too slippery and wet to climb but it was dry.

Along the path I come across a few more spring flowers. Like this february daphne. Please do not touch it if yu see one. It is highly poisonous.

On my way to the summit of the Ettaler Mandl I do meet quite a few fellow hikers. I’m wondering what to expect there. And there it is. About 15 people are here with me. Among them a father with his young son just finishing to get buckled up with their climbing gear. I can certainly understand that the boy is wearing this for safety reasons. The rest of the people in front of me are just discussing which is the best fitting equipment. This takes a bit too long for my taste and I decide – somewhat impolite yes – to jump the queue and use an alternative entry into the rock wall.

It looks worse than it actually is. I am no experienced climber by far but since the ascent is secured with ropes I can easily climb this rock. Without any snap hooks and straps around my legs. As a matter of fact it is great fun. Maybe I should start climbing?

And soon I have reached the summit.

 

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The view is fantastic. To the south I can see the Wetterstein mountains, to th east I can see across the valley of the Loisach to the Hoher Fricken and Wank. And to the North I see the alpine upland and the Staffelsee.

Since there are quite a few people in line coming up the summit, I can’t enjoy this view as long as I would have wanted to and so I soon begin the descent. There is only one „lane“ so I have to take a few breaks to let the people pass.

After reaching the foot of the rock I follow the signs towards Kloster Ettal.

The path leads through forest which is more dense at some points and less at others. Along the path I can marvel at more spring flowers. Then I reach a point where the path has cut a deep gap into the forest floor.

Every once in a while I can catch a glimpse of Kloster Ettal between the branches.

After around 1.5 hours of a rather leisurely descent I reach the valley floor and the monastery of Ettal. But before I visit this architectural jewel I want to check when the next bus for Oberau ist leaving.

I found the bus stop quickly. As per timetable there is a bus leaving in ten minutes and the next one in 45. So I decide to take the second one and go for a drink. That’s refreshing. I have some time left to explore the monastery and go for a stroll.

This baroque monastery in the middle of the mountains is very beautiful. I am deeply impressed and decide to come back to take a closer look. But now it’s time to catch the bus.

Back at the bus stop I have to realize that I haven’t read the timetable correctly and that I was looking at the operating hours during the week. On saturdays the next bus comes another 45 minutes later. Too bad. Due to no connection I can’t go on the internet. Meanwhile I am somewaht tired and don’t want to go on exploring. So I take a seat and wait.

When I finally reach the train station in Oberau, I have to realize that I will have to wait another hour before the next train departs. So I am looking for a supermarket or a gas station where I can buy something to drink. Bad luck, there is no such thing in this village.

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So this great tour has an unexpected and not so great ending and when I finlly board the train direction Munich I am not in the best mood. But not too long, cause looking back at this eventful day in such great scenery and nature calms me down quickly.

I hope you liked this post and am looking forward to reading your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Scharnitz to Mittenwald – with a detour

The long and exhausting ascent of about 4100 ft. will be rewarded with a panorama that will literally take your breath away. It’s worth not to take the direct way through the Isar Valley if you want to walk from Scharnitz to Mittenwald. Here is the proof that this detour via the Brunnensteinspitze is really a great experience.

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Hike through the „Wolfsschlucht“

This tour is for the biggest part of it a rather easy walk but the ascent through the „Wolfsschlucht“ (wulf’s gorge) to the summit of the „Schildenstein“ should only be clambered up if you are in good shape and not afraid of heights. In tour books this tour is marked as difficult.

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Crossing the Kramer

Today I will write about a tour that is a bit strenuous at some points. Your reward will be breathtaking views of the Zugspitz massif. My guide book described the tour in the opposite direction, but since I wanted to end the tour at the St. Martin alpine cabin with one of their delicious blueberry pancakes, I decided to walk this tour in the other direction. Depending on wether you prefer to have the heavy duty part in the ascend or rather in the descend is your decision.

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Breathtaking scenery in the Karwendel mountains

 Scenically this is one the most beautiful tours, I hiked so far. I had to stop pretty often to admire the monumental mountain scenery. And here comes the good thing about this hike: You don’t need to be shaped up for Iron Man to walk this tour. The ascent through the Laliederer valley is mostly smooth. There is just one relatively short steep ascent to the Falkenhütte and the descent to the Engalm is a bit steep too at times, but easily to walk.

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Crossing the mountains from Lenggries to Benediktbeuren

This tour isn’t too exhausting, but you will need to be able to walk in uneven terrain and be free from giddiness. You will be rewarded with beautiful views and with a bit of luck you will encounter an ibex. And don’t forget to save some energy for the descent. It is not very steep and follows good walkable paths, but it is a rather long one.

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A weekend at the Tegernsee

It was the last weekend in August and I had an invitation from one of our business partners to spend a weekend on the beautiful Tegernsee. I just love that valley, but do visit seldom, since the driving to get there can be an agony, especially on weekends. Once you leave the hihgway coming from Munich it can easily take an hour to drive the 16 miles to Rottach at the southern end of the lake. Often it is a bumper to bumper drive and very nerving. My love for this valley comes from my time at the hotel school in Tegernsee some 30 years ago. 6 months filled with lots of fun.

The Tegernsee Valley: where money meets tradition

On Saturday morning we were picked up at our offices and drove direction south. And of course we had the obligatory traffic jam. Finally we did arrive at our destination and to start with we went on top of the Wallberg with the cabins. From the top of this mountain you will have a great view not only of the valley and the surrounding mountains, but on a clear day you can even see as far as Munich.

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Wallberg: the valleys landmark summit

The top station is not at the summit. To reach it, it will take you another 20 minutes by foot. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to climb it today, because lunch is waiting for us at the panoramic restaurant. On a hot summer day like today this place is very busy. The food is great and the wait staff is a bit overstrained, but still very nice. After lunch our hosts had organized a special Bavarian Olympics. Things like how long can you hold a full Stein in the air, what do typical Bavarian words translate to in proper German and so on. And in good old olympic spirit to be part of it, is the most important. This is a lot of fun.
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Lenggries – Brauneck

It was again one of those beautiful days this August as we had so many this summer. And it happened to be a Sunday. The tropical heat was gone for now and so I heard the mountain calling. The challenge was how to get there. I didn’t want to get up at 6 a.m. to be on the road before the masses block the highways. But during the summer school holidays they are blocked as of 8 a.m. So my search went for a destination where I could drive to without using the highways and at the end I chose Lenggries. This small town is mainly known for being one of the closest skiing resorts to the city of Munich and you can get there by following the river Isar on a state Road. During the summer the mountains here offer a good choice of hiking paths.

Lenggries, Ski Resort in winter, outdoor paradise in summer

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Skiers and lazy people can get to the top of the Brauneck with a cabin, so there is obviously a large parking at the bottom. The shortest way brings you via the Garland Alm to the summit, but since I wanted to go on a longer hike, I opted for the longer track leading over the neighboring village of Wegscheid. A very wise decision as I will find out later today. I am starting the tour through the even terrain of the valley.


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day trip to Garmisch

We finally had a great summer again. Well, at least here in Bavaria. And I actually picked the perfect time for my vacation at home. So I decided to make the best out of it and enjoy the somewhat cooler days (when the temperature dropped to the mid 70’s) and drive again to the mountains and go on a hike.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, bavarian small town with international flair

This time I drove to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This town is known for it’s great skiing slopes in winter, but there is a lot to do and see in summer, too. This tour begins with a disappointment. The plan was to make a quick stop in the town center and buy a Bretzel for the hike. But there was no bakery to be found. Which is very unusual for a Bavarian small town. Apparently the exclusive shops and boutiques made the rent too high for a small bakery to survive here. At least we were able to take some nice pictures.

Restaurant Almhütte with a big parking lot for hikers

A short drive brings us to a restaurant called Almhütte. Not really easy to be found, especially since our old car doesn’t have a GPS. Finally we found it. The parking lot is one of the starting points of a popular hiking path called „Kramerplateauweg“. It is a rather even path on a plateau above the town and gives you not only great views of Garmisch, but also of Germany’s highest peak: the „Zugspitze“. You don’t need much experience to walk this path and so it can be done as an easy Sunday afternoon stroll. Close to the restaurant we come across a small pond with these beautiful water lilies.

My guide book tells me to start the ascent to the restaurant St. Martin auf dem Grasberg at the first crossing. But we didn’t want to start with lunch and decide to take the tour in the opposite direction.

A walk for everybody: The Kramerplateau

The next sight was this church that was being billed after WWII to commemorate the soldiers that have died during war. High above town with the impressive mountain scenery as a back drop.

Martinshütte 036The plateau is actually a alpine heathland with pine trees and heather. As the day moves towards noon, the temperature rises to the 80’s and we would love to walk in the shade, but this path is very sunny. It was a wise decision to opt for an easy hike on such a hot day.

The next stop on our hike was the lake „Pflegersee“. This artificial lake was originally being used as a fish pond for the aristocrats residing in the close by Werdenfels Castle. These days you find a public beach and a restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the lake on it’s shores. The restaurant looks very tempting, but we have other plans. So we keep on walking.

Our path starts to ascent towards a mountain called the grassy mountain. It still is not too steep and every once in a while we stop to enjoy the scenery.

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St.Martin on the Grasberg (grassy mountain)

About an hour later we reach the cabin where we want to have lunch. A typical Bavarian house with a nice terrace and absolutely breath taking views.

Above to the left you can see the view towards Alp- and Zugspitze which you can enjoy from the terrace. Unfortunately the Zugspitze is covered with clouds today. But the view is still amazing. And since we’ve been walking for 2,5 hours it is time to enjoy lunch. I opt for a salad made of sausage and cheese. A typical Bavarian dish and it is just delicious.

Since it is still rather early I decide to climb a bit further up the mountain towards the „Königsstand“. My guide book tells me that there is a sort of a skywalk with a even more spectacular view. The path is narrow and very steep, but it leads through a shady forest.

The view becomes even more breath taking after every turn. The whole town of Garmisch-Partenkichen at your feet. I can’t find a word that describes this view.

A few steps before I reach this recess the path becomes a bit of an adventure. From the cabin where I started up to this point I had to climb another 650 feet. So I did already burn off some of those calories from my lunch.

On my way back I find some Gentian next to the path.

What a cute surprise

Behind the next turn I come across a very rare sight. A young chamois got lost and descended to an elevation where you usually wouldn’t see them. And most certainly not that close. This guy jumped on my path not even 15 feet away.

It’s hard to tell who is more curious. Luckily enough it waits long enough to be taken on photograph before fleeing out of my sight. Isn’t it nice? This is a very special moment, since they usually are seen in high elevations and in very rocky terrain.

And then one last glimpse of the town and the surrounding scenery.

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Sweet reward

Back at the cabin, I feel like having something sweet. In my guide they mention that this cabin has a specialty that is not to be missed. So I order a serving of their Blueberry Pancake. The waitress looks a bit confused, since she knows that I just had lunch about 1 hour ago. I expect to get pancakes like I know them from the states, actually more of a desert serving. Along with the pancakes I order a glass of fresh buttermilk.

When my order finally finds its way to my table I am dumbstruck. The pancake has a tremendous size and could easily feed 2. On top the glass contains 16oz of fresh buttermilk. Usually they serve half of it in one glass.

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But the guys from my guide book were right. This is by far the best blueberry pancake I ever had. A thick pancake filled with tons of fresh blue- and raspberries with warm cream. I must be in heaven. I just have to enjoy every bite of it. Delicious is an understatement.

 

After feeding myself with such an amount of calories, I am happy that we still have an hour to walk before we get to our car to drive home. The descent is rather steep at some points and we are happy that we decided to walk it the opposite way.

So we had chosen the perfect tour for a hot summer day. And this chamois sighting and this pancake……….

What else can you ask for?

Hike to the Rotwand

I just love the summer heat and this summer was really great so far here in Munich. So I decided to spend my 3 weeks off here in Munich and it’s beautiful surroundings. There is quite a lot to explore here and I am asking myself, why I did neglect all this until know. I mean, there are people traveling around the globe to come here and visit Bavaria. So why should I always go away for vacation?

After climbing the Hochgern, I wanted to go on another tour while off work. But then the mercury rose to the 80’sand 90’s and it was just too hot to climb another mountain. Finally there came a day with only mid 70’s, so I got up early and drove into the mountains. On a week day this goes rather fast.

Spitzingsee

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As a starting point I chose Spitzingsee this time.This is a small lake at approx. 3500 feet. I was joined by a dear friend whose condition isn’t exactly like mine. So we chose a tour that is not that hard to do.

Our goal was to reach the Rotwandhaus which sits at approx. 5800 feet.

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There are 2 options on how to get there. We decided to take the one that is longer, but brings you through beautiful scenery. On this track you have a short piece where you will have to climb a steep path at the end.

Easy warm up in the valley of the Valepp

To start we descended into the Valley of the Valepp. The good thing about this is that you can warm up a bit, but on the other we thought, that we actually want to walk up the mountain and therefore this means with every foot we descend we will have another foot added to the ascent.  Full of energy we follow the creek called Rote Valepp through its green valley.

This is still a regular street and we could have taken a bus to bring us to the point from where we wanted to ascent. But this something everybody can do, and we not everybody 😉

At the beginning the valley broadens and we get the first glimpses of the surrounding mountains. Soon we reach the Blecksteinhaus, restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and here we leave the paved road and continue on a gravel road. ly due to the cloudy weather and since it was a week day we were the only ones and heard nothing but the singing birds. I have a guide that describes the best tracks in the Alps and it did say that this one can be crowdy at times. For us this was just perfect.
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