Trip Reports: Trek Around Watzmann - Berchtesgaden, Germany - July 2017
Berchtesgaden is a famous Bavarian mountain resort town in southeast Germany. If you look at a map of Germany, the Berchtesgaden area is the little protrusion at the bottom that’s almost totally surrounded by Austria. The area is famous for the gorgeous fjord-like Königssee lake and the massive peak of Watzmann which towers over it. In July we spent three days relaxing around town waiting for the rainy weather to pass — which fortunately it [kind of] did — then we headed out on a three night hut trek around Watzmann via the Wimbachgrieshütte, Ingolstädterhütte, and Kärlingerhaus.
During our rainy (and relaxing) three day stay in Berchtesgaden, I walked to this overlook just about every morning and evening in hopes of decent light. I was pretty thrilled the last morning when the clouds cleared at sunrise!
Our trail to the Wimbachgrieshütte took us through the scenic Wimbachklamm with its many waterfalls.
The hike to the Wimbachgrieshütte was uneventful and quicker than I expected, so we just relaxed around the hut the rest of the afternoon until the rain returned and forced us inside.
From the Wimbachgrieshütte we hiked up to the summit of Hirshwiese in hopes of a prime view of the massive east face of Watzmann, but unfortunately most of the mountain remained covered in a blanket of clouds for the three hours we waited up there before descending and continuing towards the Ingolstädterhütte. I was happy, however, to shoot this photo of Hachelkopf emerging from the clouds.
I woke up at 3:15 in the morning at the Ingolstädterhütte and hiked up to the summit of nearby Grosse Hundstod (2590 m) where I hoped to catch a view of Watzmann. Since the peak had been covered in clouds for most of the entire previous 5 days, I knew my chances of seeing it unveiled for sunrise were pretty slim, but I was there and I knew I had better try. So I was elated when I finally reached the summit and saw Watzmann in all its glory!
On the way from the Ingolstädterhütte to our planned destination of the Wasseralm hut, the rain came back in force. We stopped for lunch in the Kärlingerhaus and were quickly seduced by its charming location next to the Funtensee lake in a verdant green valley. With nothing but more rain in the forecast, it was pretty easy to make the decision to just stay here for the night then hike out the next day.
It poured all night at the Kärlingerhaus and didn't let up in the morning. We had no choice but to hike out in the rain down to Königssee.
After hiking out in the rain down to Königssee, we caught the ferry from Sankt Bartholomä back to Berchtesgaden, then on to the train station for a three hour ride to the town of Schladming where we’d start our next trek in the Dachstein the next day.
With the rainy weather and time running out on our Alps trip, our trek in Berchtesgaden was shorter than it could have been, and I never had the opportunity to photograph the beautiful Königsee as I might have hoped to. But nonetheless it was another fantastic trek in the Alps, and it left me eager to return someday to experience more of this beautiful area!