It wasn't even 8am and here we
were climbing up a steep mountainside above last night's hut, clinging onto steel ropes. It was hairy, but it sets the tone. This was going to be a special day.
|The long climb up to Schlauchkarsattel|
We had an idea of what the first bit was going to be like. Pictures in local books showed a huge dry limestone valley, cliffs on either side and the imposing Bikkarspitze, the highest point in the Karwendel, at the top. Everything went like a dream, steady, tough walking but we were making progress. The only challenging bit was near the pass. The sun had just hit the rock face and within minutes small rocks were crashing down and one, at great speed, bounced off the top of my bag. It could have been worse.
|On the Schlauchkarsattel (the pass)|
At the pass I dropped my bag and left it with
Christine who was huddling behind a rock to keep warm and bounded off up to the top of Bikkarspitze. With a couple of other Germans I tried to work out, with little success, what I was looking at but whatever it was the views were epic.
|Looking west to the Zugspitz - Germany's highest mountain|
Back with Christine and reunited with
my bag we started our descent. The descent is always the worst and this was the first really big one on this trip. It was a challenge and it seemed to take an age to cover the first 100m or so. It was incredibly steep, loose rock was everywhere and inevitability we stiffened up with nerves, which just made it worse.
|The steel ropes on the descent from Schlauchkarsattel|
Fixed ropes signified that what was steep was now going to get steeper but it was actually much easier shimmying down backwards holding onto rope. It was the longest bit of fixed rope work we had ever done, 200m at least, but it was great fun and distracted us from the scariest bit of the mountain.
|High speed down the scree below Schlauchkarsattel|
After the steel ropes we dropped into huge fields of scree and somehow we had both forgotten how to deal with it. I tried to persuade Christine to go down faster but it took a friendly German to give her the technique. Point your feet down the mountain, spread them out a bit and run, breaking with your heels. It was wonderful and down we flew.
|Looking south towards the Lafatscher ridge|
From the top of Bikkarspitze to the valley at the bottom is a descent of 1500m and after the rope, scree and our new found confidence we got to the bottom and a farm (cake and fresh milk) 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
|Approaching the Hallerangerhaus - at last|
The last part of the day was inevitably a bit of an anticlimax. Climbing up the other side of the valley gave us glimpses of the huge Bikkarspitze and it was hard to believe we had been at the top of it just a few hours earlier. We were soon at our 1700m hutte with a beer on the sun terrace and exchanging stories with same Germans who had helped us on the mountain.
Today was a perfect days walking, everything was better than we could have expected. Fantastic scenery, challenging walk and great company. Does it get any better?