The Hirschberg 1668 m- a classic in the Bavarian Alps. Also known to be one of the “Münchner Hausberg” be it summer or winter. It is actually one of the places not to go to, if you’re waiting to experience a lonesome summit all for yourself. So don’t ask me what happened when I decided to take the plunge on that Sunday morning, destined to be stomped by the crowds.
I have made several attempts the last 25 years for this summit and have not seen it till today. Oh, let me recall the attempts. The first time I came here, I had my backcountry skis on for the first time – I walked up the ski lift and skied down. Ok, after the second ascend, I was all puffed out and ended the session. Back then I wondered why I did this when I could comfortably use the ski lift 10m next to me. The second time saw me hiking after a long break- I made it to the Rauheckalm but was not motivated to go any further. Too hot! The third time I came with my backcountry skis… and chickened out at the steepest hill after the Rauheckalm. So, now after all these years, I was determined to get to the summit. Snow or not snow. I packed in my crampons, gaitors and my heavy mountain boots (incase there was too much snow), downloaded the GPX route and set off on my own. Maybe that was the keyword to success.
Sunday morning on the motorway to Tegernsee.
Surprise! No traffic jams! Everyone must be making use of the extra hour to sleep in, after the change of time. An hour later, I reached Scharling, parked right in front of the ski lift and started off ascending the hill right after the ski lift. 200 m later, everything was full of snow. The strong sun and mild temperatures started to melt the snow, and the hill seemed to turn into a wet waterfall with plenty of slush ice making the ascend difficult. I kept slipping two steps back after one step forward. The group of youngsters, who left before me in a hurry seemed to have gotten stuck in the middle. As I got there, I found myself glad to have worn my mountain boots, instead of my usual approach shoes, which I have adapted to for all my hikes this year. Soft mud, slush, wet, and water that could’ve easy reached your ankles, there was no way but to get through it straight. The rest of the way continued on a dirt road, that lead right up to the Rauheckalm. Booooah! What a view. I can’t remember seeing all this the last times I was here. I must’ve been blinded by exhaustion back then.
I continued along the ridge, passing by a few snow shoe hikers and followed the steep, narrow, snow stomped path, that led to the next junction. From here, the sign says left, another 20 mins to the summit. On the right, 5 mins to the Hirschberghaus. Of course the devil in my ear was tugging me to go right. But I was particularly determined to see this summit, at least once after all this time. The path started getting more crowded. The first couple I passed greeted me and said – do you need help in your directions? (I must’ve looked very much like a tourist), the next chap stormed the path with his dog that caught the scent of venison and was tugging so hard it was choking. And then came a group of chuckling mid-50ish japanese ladies. “Servus!”one said. Oh! Sie sprechen deutsch? Yup, can’t miss them even in the Alps, those hats stay on in the city and on the summit 🙂 The “Münchner Hausberg”. (literally translated= Munich’s home-based mountain) lives up to it’s name.The next couple was so caught up in the discussion of internet forums, he fell in a snow hole and finally another couple discussed what colours would suit her best. (Common guys, tell the truth. Doesn’t that bore you to death?) When they passed by me, he said “pink”! Oops, I think I made an impression.
Lucky enough to leave the crowds behind me and savour the summit all for my self! Vast views of the surrounding Alps, some hidden behind the clouds or densed fog in the valleys. Some peaks so clear I could see the Großvenediger that was some 300 km away. I could have stayed there till the sunset, if not for the icy wind and the fact that I had only 2 little cookies and an ice cold water in my hydration Pack. The Hirschberghaus was a welcomed sight without a soul anywhere to be seen. A peep on my watch told me that it was past 4 p.m and with the change of time, it would get dark pretty soon. As I asked the Innkeeper if he was still serving anything at all, he answered me with a “Do you have head lamp”, as if I would get my food only if I had one. Of course I did not (oh oh!). But got my food anyways and reassured him that I would be pretty quick in descending (even though I had no idea where I was)
After warming up a little at the refuge, I started the descend back to Scharling. The path led through some steep and narrow serpentine through the snow filled summer path (I think I missed the signs for the winter way, which is usually wire secured ) At some point I thought that if I slipped and fell I would go all the way doooown. From the ridge, the way was quite clear to follow the long boring dirt road on the winter Tobbagan course down to the town. As it became really dark, I finally reached the parking lot. It couldn’t have lasted longer! However, I was glad to have chosen this way down, avoiding having to go through the slummy hill in darkness once again. So there you go, Hirschberg in winter is in the pocket. And I almost didn’t meet a soul there. (pun)
General Information of the tour:
- Total ascends: 924 m (Scharling Hirschberg Schlepplift – Rauheckalm – Hirschberg ) 2.5 -3 hours*, depending on snow conditions
- Total descends: 929 m (Hirschberg – Hirschberghaus – Hirschlache – Scharling ) 1hr 50*
- Distance: 12,5 km
- Time: ~4,50 hrs* (in winter)
- Beauty: ***
- Hirschberg: 1668 m
- Hirschberghaus refuge: 1480 m
- Starting Point / Difficulty: The hike is often described from the initial point that starts off in Scharling at a sign posted parking lot, and leads you directly to the path through the winter tobaggan course. However, I started off at the parking lot for the Ski lift which is also the same point used for backcountry skiiers in the winter and found this far more interesting than the other way around. Especially on days with lots of snow, the trial between the Rauheckalm to the Hirschberghaus could be a potential danger for avalanches and should be avoided. Start instead from Scharling! While a hike in winter can be a dream in wonderland, it requires you also to check the avalanche warnings before leaving.
- Other readable links : Wanderung auf den Hirschberg from Uli, Stefanie’s “Gipfelbuch:Hirschberg” and Rebecca’s “Der perfekten Winterwanderberg” (all in german) describes their ascends directly from Scharling.
* Times may differ depending on snow conditions, with or without. Times differ too, depending on your condition.