The Alps Await!!

So after a very quiet first half of the year for me, later this week I will this week get my first taste of the hills and mountains since I was in Nepal last autumn. I can’t wait to go, I really can’t.

I will be travelling with a friend called Verena, and a friend of hers, name as yet unknown :). It is a short trip, of only three days in the mountains themselves. Verena lives in Bavaria, and has planned the whole thing, which is wonderful.

We have been planning the trip for a few months now, and originally the trip was going to be to a route called the Heilbronner Höhenweg, in the Allgäuer Alps. The pass sits on the border between Germany and Austria, and is between 2,400m and 2,640m in altitude, with some nice scalable peaks along the way. Yesterday however, Verena contacted me to say that there had been unseasonably late snowfalls in the region, and that it may prove difficult or even dangerous to take this route. She advised that I take crampons to be safe. In fact she also said “there may be old ice and snow in certain areas where you could fall through and that would be it”. Now call me a bit of a scaredy cat if you will, but the words “that would be it” are a teensy bit fatalistic for me, so that got me a bit on the edgy side.

Verena also thankfully suggested that we maybe should choose some backup options also, in case the Heilbronner Höhenweg proved impassible (for that read potential deathtrap :o). The suggestions are as follows:

1. In the Karwendel. The route goes to the Spekkar Spitze and the Goetheweg. We would stay at the Bettelwurfhutte and the Pfeishutte.

2. In Berchtesgadener Land and the Chiemiger Alps.
The journey would take us over the Königsee, and then on to a trail taking us to Riemannshaus and then to Ingolstädter Haus for the second night.

3. In the Allgäuer Alps (which is in fact the area where the Heilbronner Höhenweg is also). The trip would take us on the Krumbacher Höhenweg, and then onto the Mindelheimerhutte and then the Pfeishutte.

I haven’t been to any of these areas before. I have been to Berchtesgaden and the Königsee, which I have to say are about as picture postcard beautiful as any place on this earth, but not the trail itself. Each of the regions are reasonably close. If you look at the map below of the Northern Limestone Alps you will see the Karwandel region (highlighted in yellow), and then close to its left you will see the Allgau and then the Berchtesgadener Alps to the right.

The Northern Limestone Alps

Having googled extensively each of the three options, my head is now in a spin. The reason for that is that we sadly have to choose one of them, and I want to do all three! I suppose that I/we can always go back at another time, and in some ways it is so nice to be spoilt for choice.

The good thing is that the weather appears now to be set reasonably fair. It should be warm for Friday and Saturday, with the chance of thunderstorms on Sunday. I’ll have to carry everything I need for the trip on my back (obviously), and so being a hopeless overpacker that could make for some tired shoulders by Monday, but so be it. We will apparently choose one of the three routes on Thursday after I arrive by plane to Munich. Perfect!

Given the fact that I love travel, change, challenge, adventure, the mountains, and am going to new paths in one of the most beautiful areas in Europe, and moreover get to do so with someone that I know and like, then things can’t get a whole lot better as far as I am concerned.

I’ll leave you with a couple of photographs of the area. The first one from the town of Berchtesgarden, looking towards the Watzmann, Germany’s second highest mountain:

The Watzmann mountain, towering over Berchtesgaden

The second is a picture from the Karwandel, it may be the Speckkar Spitze, I am not sure:

In the Karwandel range, this may actually be the Pleisen.

I am tonight packing and unpacking my rucksack, very much in eager anticipation. And in fact I may be just as excited about this trip as I was for Everest Base Camp, it is just potentially a trip that has just so much to give. I’ll be there in less than 60 hours time, and yes I’m counting.

It’s a bit of an overused phrase of mine, but I’ll say it anyway: “Bring it on”.

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