Ettaler Manndl – a lesson learnt


After a warm up hike three weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to start building up my via ferrata aka. Klettersteig experience. Equipped with advice from the local DAV information centre in Munich, I decided for an easy Klettersteig to the Ettaler Manndel (1, 633 m).

The purpose of the trip was to establish how Constantin’s and mine via ferrata skills compare to the difficulty rating used in my guide book. The Ettaler Manndl Klettersteig, as the Germans call their via ferratas, is classed as easy and can be reached via a number of routes. This was a key selection criteria, because we had a night out planned on Saturday and needed some options with a later start. In the end we opted for the shortest trip that didn’t use the cable car to Laberjoch.

See also: What is a via ferrata aka Klettersteig

The amazing thing about living in Munich is that you can roll out of bed at 10 am and still have plenty of time for a hike in the Bavarian Alps. The Ettaler Manndel is just two hours south of Munich in the Ammergau Alps and the return hike from Ettal to the summit takes about 4 hours.

At 2 pm we were at the old monastery in Ettal ready to go. The ascent to the beginning of the Klettersteig was steep and relatively long. It took us about 1 hr 45 minutes. The Klettersteig on the other hand ended up being pretty short for us.

The Klettersteig

Those more courageous and equipped than us making their way to the summit of the Ettaler Manndl.

Those more courageous and equipped than us making their way up the Ettaler Manndl Klettersteig.

I was told at the DAV that the Klettersteig was doable without a via ferrata set. The start looked easy enough and we quickly scrambled up the first bit. When we reached the ridge though, Constantin decided that it was silly to continue along the exposed ridge without any belay and demanded we turned around. So we did. For me the jury is still out whether it was a cowardly or responsible decision.

There were in fact at least three other couples that did the via ferrata without any kit. To add insult to injury, there was a six year old boy who practically ran up and down the Klettersteig. At least he had full gear.

Having come to the Ettaler Manndel to measure ourselves against the Klettersteig difficulty rating, we’ve found out that we need the full gear even for easy routes. With a belaying set I am pretty sure we would have made it to the top. Technically, the Klettersteig was easy, but it was too exposed for us. As disappointing as it was not to reach the summit, I guess we at least succeeded in finding out where we stand on the Klettersteig scale – at the very bottom.

Slightly devastated (me) and relieved (Constantin), we ate the rest of our sandwiches at the foot of the Klettersteig, before descending back to Ettal. The return trip took us about an hour.

Trip summary

Start/ end: Ettal

Ascent/ descent: 750m

Time: 3,5 hrs

Travel from Munich: Train to Oberammergau or the Oberau, then a bus. Roughly 2 hrs.

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