Crossing the Untersberg in the Berchtesgadener Alps

Berchtesgadener Alps

The view from the Untersberg

This summer has been so busy I haven’t had time to write a proper post about my hiking trip to the Berchtesgadener Alps at the beginning of June yet. And, to be perfectly honest, I simply got distracted. I’ve found some time to catch up just in time before my next trip to the mountains.

The first weekend in June was a long weekend with a bank holiday Monday here in Bavaria. Having given ourselves the Saturday to sort ourselves out after a previous weekend in the Czech Republic, we were ready to hit the Alps for a two day trip on Sunday.

Sunday: Bischofswiesen – Stöhrhaus

The trip started at the railway station in Munich on Sunday morning. We met Inmaculada and Thomas, bought coffee for the journey and were off. By the time the train pulled up at Bischofswiesen it was nearly midday. Aside from being extra long, the first weekend of June was also the first proper summer weekend in Bavaria. When we got off the train it was about 30 degrees C. Fortunately enough the first two thirds of the hike up to the Stöhrhaus (1, 894 m), where we were staying overnight, led mainly through a forest.

The ascent ot the Stöhrhaus was long and hot

The ascent to the Stöhrhaus (here just a dot on top of the Untersberg) was long and hot

The last third and the final ascent to the hut were sun exposed and well hot. The low shrub that the path now cut through in a zig zag was perfect at keeping out all wind and trapping the heat right on the path. Before I could relive my Drakensberg trip though, we arrived at the top of the Untersberg plateau and the Stöhrhaus perched just at its edge.

It was only 4.30 pm when we got there. We had plenty of time to enjoy the views from the hut’s terrace topped off with a spectacular sunset.

A rescue helicopter in the Alps

A 12 day cave rescue operation is just starting on the Untersberg

That Sunday the peaceful atmosphere at the hut was disturbed by a helicopter rescue operation that had just started at the hut. Two police helicopters kept on dropping off and collecting rescue teams from a flat area behind the hut. The whole situation was bizarre. We were told that a speleologist had been injured while exploring a cave and was now trapped inside. Yet everyone at the hut including the rescue team seemed to be oddly calm without any sense of urgency.

Only when we returned back to Munich did we find out what actually happened. The speleologist injured was trapped in Germany’s deepest cave, with a head injury that prevented him from climbing the 1,000 something meters back up to the surface. In the end the rescue operation took 12 days. When we arrived at the hut it had literally just started.

The Independent: Germany cave rescue

Monday: Stöhrhaus – Marktschellenberg

Us on Monday morning

Here we are ready to get going on day 2

The next day we made our way over the rugged Untersberg plateau. First we walked up to its highest point the Berchtesgadener Hochthron (1, 972 m)  just above the Stöhrhaus hut. After a short walk and an even shorter stop at the summit we continued across the plateau to its Salzburg end. Instead of hiking up the Salzburger Hochthron we decided to descend and visit the Schellenberger ice cave – Germany’s largest ice cave.

To be honest we were slightly underwhelmed by it. OK there is a lot of ice, OK it is all hidden from sight in this mountain that on the day of our visit was exposed to direct sunlight and temperatures in the high 30s and OK the entrance looked like this:

Schellenberger ice cave

Welcome to Germany’s largest ice cave

… but really there wasn’t that much to it. Or hold on, maybe that’s impressive enough. Anyhow it was not the cave with the trapped guy in it and we got out again.

The route to the cave impressed us straight away though. The ladders and tunnels of the Thomas Eder Steig were real fun.

From the cave we continued to the Toni Lenz Hütte and then down and down for hours until we arrived tired and sweaty at the river in Marktschellenberg.

There was only one thing left to do. Go for a swim!

The Salzach in Marktschellenberg

The Salzach was made for swimming

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4 comments

  1. Robbie · · Reply

    Hello Marketa,

    I was inspired by you to plan a hike to the Stohrhaus on our families recent trip to Munich. It was the best part of our trip. My husband and son hike a lot but this was their first experience hiking outside of the USA. I do not hike a great deal so it was a great challenge for me and I felt very accomplished while enjoying such incredible views, fabulous meal and great bonding with my family. We will never forget it.

    Thank you for your blog.

    Robbie

    1. Hi Robbie!

      Thanks for leaving your note! I am really glad I could help you plan a great day out in the mountains. The hike to the Stohrhaus is lovely.

      marketa

  2. Hi Marketa. Germany has so much to offer even if the ice cave didn’t quite meet up to expectations. I have a question you may be able to help me with. For our mountain trip next year we are going to the High Tatra. Flying to Kosice in Slovakia. If you have any advice, tips on places to stay, things to eat, routes to follow etc I would be greatful. To any one reading this and enjoys solitude; this year we went to Norway and saw a total of 5 people on the trails all week. The huts were self service but what an amazing country. I have waited +/-25 years to go back and I was not dissapointed. Wounderful.

    Thanks,

    Martin

    1. Hi Martin!

      Thanks for your note. Good to hear you had a great time in Norway. I am just on my way back from 6 days in Valais, Switzerland. A post is coming soon 🙂

      Being Czech I should probably know a thing or two about the High Tatra. But I don’t 😦 I can give you some culinary advice though. Definitely have some halušky in Slovakia. It’s a kind of pasta served with a creamy cheese sauce from a local type of cheese. Very yummy. And watch out for slivovice – a home made spirit with very high alcohol content (50+%).

      Best,

      Marketa

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