Everything comes to an end at some point and so the amazing, hot weather of early August ended precisely as we drove from Munich towards Lindau on a Friday afternoon in mid-August. A real deluge just outside of Munich set the tone for the rest of the weekend, but despite the weather we enjoyed some good hiking in a moody, unusual landscape.
The Kleinwalsertal is a valley in the Allgäuer Alpen. Although it is in Austria, it is only accessible from Germany, with Oberstdorf being the gateway into the valley. The drive there from Lindau at lake Konstanz takes about an hour and a half – not the fastest route from Munich, but we were picking up our Swiss friends from the train there.
We initially planned to stay at a hotel in Baad on Friday evening and then do one of these four trips. However, the weather forecast for the weekend was extremely bad: thunderstorms on Saturday, heavy rain on Sunday. As we went to bed we were not even sure whether we’d hike at all.
Saturday: Mittelberg (Schwendle) – Mindelheimer Hütte (2,013 m)
Walking time: 2.5 hrs; Ascent/ descent: 930/ 90 m
To our surprise we were woken up by the sun the next day! It was peaking through intermittent cloud, but it was sun. Although thunderstorms were still the order of the day, they were not expected to hit the area until at least 2pm. We re-planned and chose the fastest way up to the Mindelheimer Hütte via Wildental.
We hiked at pace, spurred on by a grey cloud hanging over us and a clear 2 o’clock deadline. We made it up to the top of the Kemptnerscharte (2,108 m) in just under 2.5 hrs just after 12 o’clock. The path was quite steep, particularly in the last section through the couloir, where a tiny bit of easy scrambling was needed (there were also some iron ropes – not via ferrata though). 10 minutes later, we were at the hut.
Not too long after we settled in, it started raining. We had the whole afternoon to kill at the hut. We had some food, considered our options for Sunday, had a nap and finally had dinner and played cards. All that while the rain poured.
Sunday: Mindelheimer Hütte – Gemstelboden – Mittelberg (Schwendle)
Walking time: 2.5; hrs Ascent/ descent: 150/ 980m
The forecast for Sunday improved during Saturday. Now only light rain was expected in the morning. We chose another short route back to the car – this time through the Gemsteltal.
We set off early and made good progress, sneaking past the Geißhorn and soon reaching the top of the Gemsteltal Klamm in about an hour’s time. All along there was intermittent light drizzle, with the mountains shrouded in mist.
As we started descending along the side of the canyon (Klamm) a deep, saturated green of the meadows in the Gemsteltal started coming through the thinning cloud. The route also got a bit more difficult, with a little bit of light scrambling required here and there. After another hour we made it to the Hintere Gemstelhütte, which served amazing cake and was generally incredibly cosy.
The cake stop let the rain catch-up with us. As we left the hut a proper rain started falling. Luckily it was a bit on and off. When we got back to the car we were only slightly wet. Given the weather forecast we started with on Friday night, a real success!
Start – End: Mittelberg, parking lot at Schwendle
Ascent/ descent: 1,080/ 1,070 m
Walking time: 5 hrs
Travel from Munich: 2,5 hrs drive via Kempten or direct train to Oberstdorf (2,5 hrs) and then bus to Mittelberg.
- Four routes for a hiking trip to the Kleinwalsertal in Allgäu
- 7 hiking trips from Munich
- Good things come to those who wait: snowshoeing in Kleinwalsertal