GERMAN HILL AND MOUNTAIN HIKING

27th February: Garmish-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck

Start Garmisch-P'kirchen 700m, Finish Kreuzeck 1650m

Highest point: circa 1910m, top of Längenfeld

Distance: circa 15 kms

Weather: Snowing above 850m, deep snow above 1750m

Vertical altitude gain: circa 1300m

Time: 7 hrs 40 mins, mostly on snowshoes

Signs near Kochelbergalm

The Bavarian winter of 2006/7 was, in early March 2007, reported as the warmest for 100 years with temperatures around 4 degrees C above average. But I didn't know that in late November 2006 when I started to look out for a few forecast snowy and cold days when I could get back on my snowshoes and enjoy some winter walking! By late January I had bags fully packed, but it was only almost at the end of February that I saw a short window of weather forecast that would suit my needs: some short spells had already passed but not at times I could travel. So Tuesday 27th February saw me set out from the mild and snowfree valley at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, onto the North facing slopes above the town where the forecast snow had indeeed fallen, and was still falling gently as I reached the first sprinkles of snow near to Kochelbergalm at around 850m.

My plan was to get as high as possible above Kreuzeck, using pisted and compacted old snow higher up that should now have enough new snow to make snowshoeing fun, but not too exhausting for someone like me who will never be fit enough, (or slim enough!), to go cross country snowshoeing.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Kramerspitz

Before long I was on full snow cover, with a lovely view North West to the Kramerspitz

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Wank mountain

And a view North East to the great bulk of the Wank mountain.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Track to Hausberg View from track to Hausberg

And with every metre of height gain the underfoot snow depth on the forest track increased, with plenty of breaks to see the surrounding mountains.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck View near to Bayernhaus

The overnight snow lying on the foliage gave an almost "Winter Wonderland" look as I passed the 1100m level.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Bayernhaus

By 1250m I was thinking it would soon be time to put on my snowshoes as an inviting Bayernhaus came into view.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Garmischer Haus

And less than a 100m higher, nearing Garmischer Haus I did put on my MSR snowshoes to cope with an ever increasing depth of fresh snow. By now on a firm packed base layer of old snow.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Wank Mountain

After the short downhill stretch at Garmischer Haus it was now steadily uphill on a once pisted surface now with plenty of fresh snow on top, with the Wank mountain standing out clearly behind me.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Track to Kreuzeck Track to Kreuzeck

After 1400m I passed the Trögeln Hutte, crossed the infamous Kandahar run that had seen a round of the Ski World Cup the previous weekend, and then along a narrow track that branched into one that had been used just by a lone "walker" on skis.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck View from Kreuz Alm

Close to 1600m the track emerged into the open near Kreuz Alm and Kreuzeck, with views SE to Stuibenspitz.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Kreuzeck

After Kreuzeck I took the winter route up to the bottom of the Längenfelder slope. The steep zig zags and improving weather gave frequent views back down to Kreuzeck and the Estergebirge mountains behind.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Längenfeld

The steep Längenfelder slope saw me feel the full force of the icy wind, and putting my balaclava on I noticed the sweat on my head had frozen solid on my hair! It was quite a slow slog to the top, where I left the firm base with the new snow on top, and got into very deep new snow. Amongst the dwarf pines and with the Alpspitze just visible.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Snow shoe trail on Längenfeld Snow shoe trail on Längenfeld

By now I was feeling tired, and was also sinking very deeply into the soft new snow as I made several attempts to get to the top of the Längenfeld at over 1900m. On the section in the right hand photo I was sinking in about two feet into the snow, despite having the full tail float extensions fitted to both snow shoes! It was very hard work.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Osterfelderkopf

But the effort was worth it as I reached my highest yet on a winter snowshoe hike, something over 1900m. With a view North to Osterfelderkopf and it's two cable cars, with the Zugspitze just visible to the right.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Zugspitze and Riffelspitzen

And as the cloud came and went I could look a bit more to the West and catch a glimpse again of the Zugspitze, and also the Riffelspitzen. Bottom right is the Hupfleteinjoch saddle, which had been one of my initial choices of destination for today, although I was very happy to have got some 170m above that point!

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Estergebirge

To The North East was a clear view over to the Wank, Hoher Fricken and the rest of The Estergebirge.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck View SE from Längenfeld

Heading back down from Längenfeld the view SE took in the Partenkirchner Dreitorspitze.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Hausberg - Kreuzeck Alm - Längenfeld - Kreuzeck Kreuzeck and Estergebirge

I was tiring now and decided to save energy for the rest of the trip by snowshoeing back to the cable car station at Kreuzeck, (extreme left) to take the quick way back down to the valley. All the time with the view NE to the Estergebirge more central and in the distance.