25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken
Start at Schierke Bhf. 685m / finish at Brocken Bhf. 1125m
Highest point reached was 1142m, Brocken summit
Distance circa 8 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 500 m
Total time from start to finish of 3hrs
Weather was cold with some rain and with deep snow.
Partly on snowshoes

After a couple of good winter trips to Bavaria I was keen to continue making progress with snowshoe hiking, and Internet research had shown that Germany's Harz mountains, (really forested hills), still had good levels of snow and cold temperatures in mid March. So a late booked trip there meant I could try out my new MSR Classic snowshoes and enjoy my other main hobby, German steam railway locomotives. That was as a narrow gauge railway ran throughout the Harz area, but with the majority of it's service focussed on the Brockenbahn a 33 km section running from Wernigerode at 240m to the Brocken station which at 1125m was just under the summit of the tallest peak in the Harz National Park.

The plan for the trip was to combine some trips behind the steam locomotives with as much time on snowshoes as I could cope with: I have found it to be a fairly tiring, but very rewarding way of enjoying the winter snows!
HSB train
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
Schierke Bhf.
The cold weather ended 24 hours before my arrival, but with record snow levels in places I still expected to have no problems finding anywhere to hike on snowshoes! That indeed proved to be the case and leaving the excellent Hotel Am Anger in Wernigerode on Friday 25th March I joined the first train of the day, leaving it at a dull and rainy Schierke Bhf, (station). Weather that I was to see for most of my five days in the Harz National Park.
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
Schierke Bhf. was to prove an excellent starting point for most of my trip: the snow for some way North of the station seemed largely untroubled by the mild weather during my visit. Except for the fairly well used Bahnparallelweg route to the Brocken that I used on my first day. Only after going through the very dull forest of the first stage of this route did I try my new MSR Denal Classic snowshoes, allowing me to cut corners from time to time to see how they performed.
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
Bahnparallelweg. HSB train
It was immediately obvious the MSR's were superb snowshoes. Easy and quick to put on with good crampons giving excellent grip on the sometimes icy and deep snow route. The strapping system and pivoted footplate allowed natural walking, but eliminated heel drift: a major problem with my Grivel snowshoes. Using these near Eckerloch allowed a rapid detour down to the Brockenbahn to photo the next train storming it's way up the Brocken.
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
MSR Denal Classic Snowshoes
The three straps of the front bindings are done up very easily, even with gloves on, and the way they hold the front of the boot on the pivoting plate stops any heel drift. On this deep, but fairly well packed Spring snow I didn't need to attach the 8 inch tail floats that would become essential later in the trip.
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
Bahnparallelweg. Brocken trees
Despite being mild lower down it was much colder getting close to the Brocken summit: and as ever, (or so it seems in winer), the cloudbase was below 1,000 metres adding to the gloom of a dull day. But not spoiling the fun of a great winter hike.
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
Brocken service road. Brocken summit
By now the track was on the ploughed service road to the summit, and for the only time during my whole trip I was walking with others past the near 3 metre depth of snow still being reported from the weather station. But ferociously cold winds meant I was back on my own heading across the hard packed snow to the summit rock.
25th March hike continued

25th March: Schierke Bhf. - Eckerloch - Brocken continued
HSB trains cross at Stienerne Renne I descended the Brocken in one of the steam hauled trains pausing to cross one heading up. My first efforts on the new MSRs had been easy, and whilst this trip was not planned to see long distances or large vertical heights gains I was fairly sure I would have some hard work ahead on the deep snow North of Schierke.
26th March hike Mar 2006 Trip Index Key to route descriptions     Back to Main Index

Key to Route Descriptions
Throughout this web site I have tried to adopt a consistent approach to the way I show the summarised hike details in the blue text table shown at the start of each hike. Below is an explanation of how the various parts of that text table are arrived at.

Start and Finish
The main locations, usually a village or nearest village, from where the hike is started and ended. The altitude of the start and finish taken by comparing my exact starting point with the appropriate contour line or printed height from the relevant Topographische Kart 1:25000, Bayersisches Landesvermessungsamt München map.

Round distance in kms
The total distance actually hiked. Includes any "excursions" off the main route. The kms shown are a very broad estimate only. I have yet to find a way of getting anything like an accurate distance for my hikes even using the 1:25000 maps. Frequent zig zags and height gains and undulations are the main problems to deal with!

Vertical altitude gain
Not the height difference between the starting point and the highest point reached. It is an estimate of the total metres I have ascended during the hike. It will include all significant undulations and all "excursions" off the main route. Using the detailed 1:25000 maps as above, it is possible with a little care and effort to get quite close to an accurate figure.

Total time from start to finish
Time from my gasthof back to my gasthof after the hike if no public transport is involved. Or from leaving a bus stop or railway station and back to a bus stop or railway station at the end of the hike. Includes all breaks. My ascent rate is slow, never more than about 300 metres per hour, so most other people would complete the hikes quicker. I often complete a hike with no stop lasting longer than a few minutes, but picnic stops and visits to huttes taking longer than that will be mentioned in the text.

A broad description of the weather conditions during that hike. Any temperatures usually taken from the nearest weather recording site that I can find, (done on my return to England), or from local TV reports.
January 2006 Trip Index    Back to Main Index