Rotwand 1884m in Spitzingsee -a winter hike

The Wildfeldalm – Sunny til the sun goes down. And a sanctuary for the hungry sun lovers in search for a break before the summit.

Friday the 13th – For some, this is an evil day. A day full of Murphy’s Law. For others, it can be a beautiful experience and a fun day out. ..

…with some careful planing. The Rotwand was on today’s menu.  I crossed my fingers for a successful day as we stepped into the car and headed out from our foggy, grey, meaningless city. 10 km later, the world turned a little brighter, bluer than the grey, lighter and merrier. The Spitzingsee is another one of Munich’s “Hausberge“. It is the Mecca for hikers with or without snow shoes, alpine and backcountry skiers who disperses to different summits on sunny weekends. It is the mountain region which will save you from your “I-want-to-get-out-of-the-city-now-which-mountain-can-I-climb-after-12pm” urge, and your last hope when snow starts getting sparse. I never understood why Spitzingsee was never renamed to  “Spitzingsee bei München” but rather marketed as the “Alpenregion Tegernsee und Schliersee“. Whatever the reason, whatever the reputation, I was there again, in search of winter hikes to cure my cravings for altitude, just before the crowd storms over the carnival weekend.

But I was under pressure. There was a wish for there must be “sun, snow, food, summit, sled  rentals, and no artificial ascend i.e. NO ski lifts nearby. And also no tourists.” Hmm, easier said than done. (Have you ever googled for “summits with no tourists”? Luckily, Spitzingsee isn’t listed in the search results ) 

Views right into the Valepp valley


Your wish is my command

We parked the car by the church (4 EUR !) and headed in the direction of the Valepp valley. It used to be a toll road decades back, but it is now blocked by a non payable gate barrier for vehicles just after the souvenir shop. Following the signs to Rotwand the road took us up for about 2 km before it turns to the right, into a wide forrest track. The Bergwacht (mountain rescue station) stands just before this junction. I’ve never seen a soul here.It’s always closed when I come.  Following the Herman-Kleber-Weg and a few serpentines later, finally out from the shades of the trees, we passed by a camera team and two bored looking actors or some outdoor celebrity I do not know, a few backcountry skiers and stood shortly afterwards below the crowded summit of the Rotwand. For a moment I thought that if we went up, the summit might crumble all together. Wow, were we that late and where on earth did they all come from? (We left the house at 8a.m!! ) There was no question or doubt about it, we went straight to the Rotwandhaus (lodge) and found outside a sunny, wind sheltered corner for ourselves and stretched out on a bench. I couldn’t resist the offer of having a good meal and a beer. A few minutes later, I was looking at this Spinatknödel, fascinated by its arrangement. Decorated with saffron threads, red peppercorns, Physalis and rasped parmesan. Pretty. And mighty delicious! One of the best I have tasted. Or did the altitude influenced me? To the left was the “Großvenediger” and to the right the “Olperer”. The world was good on me today. The view made you forget the week behind you. Deleted.

Puh, so far so good. Everything went well like it had been wished for. 

Peak guessing – Where is the Großvenediger?
Peak guessing 2 – where’s the Olperer?

Bring back the child in you

The Rotwandhaus has a sled rental. Everyone who wants a fast way down pays 5 EUR per sled. Equipped with 120 sleds, you get the idea how the traffic is on high season. You get a ticket at the casher and may collect your sled at every half an hour intervals. You can choose to walk back down too. Thrilled to not having to torture myself the same boring way down again,  I was sitting on the sled faster than you would expect and slided off without thinking. OK, there were some logistic problems at the beginning. How do you go left ? Aaaand right? Leaning to the right brings me left, and on the left brings me right. Putting my feet on sled feets brings me over the ledge. Aaaargh!  Sucks. Disoriented, I almost knocked off a group of people in the way which got them shouting at me from behind. “Brems mitm Fiaß!!!” (= break with your feet)  This is all harder than it looked. And I was doing it all wrong.  5km down the whole way in less than an hour. My legs felt afterwards like jelly, and I had aches all over from cramping up all the way down. But I was happy, he was happy. It was so much fun.

It was a great relief. I managed to fulfill most of the wishes on the wish list. Except for the last part. I couldn’t get the tourists to disappear.  But ain’t  I a tourist myself? Afterall, I am not a local from the Spitzingsee, even though I live almost next to this mountain?

I was rewarded in the evening with a “Happy Valentines Day” chocolate. And I think I said something wrong when I replied  “but today is Friday the 13th!!?” Ups!

Downhill with the sled. Fun not only for the children.

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General Information of the tour:

  • Total ascends: 800 m (Spitzingsee –  Wildfeldalm-Hütten – Rotwand – Rotwandhaus ) 2.5 -3 hours
  • Total descends: ~650 m, 45 mins – 1 hour for the 5km sled ride. Or 1.5-2 hrs by foot.
  • Distance: ~13 km with a Rotwand summit.
  • Beauty: ***
  • Rotwand: 1884 m
  • Rotwandhaus: 1737 m Homepage to the Rotwandhaus
  • Starting Point / Difficulty: Park at the parking lot by the church in Spitzingsee. Pass by the church until you reach the vehicle gate barriers just before the Alterwurzhütte. Cross this and turn left at the first intersection and start ascending. The way up to the Rotwandhaus and summit is considered as easy and is suitable for children who can take any 3 hour hike. The whole route faces south, so you get the sun most of the time while you’re above the timberline. The sled ride down is also graded as one of the easy ones, good for beginners. There’s only one or two steeper parts to be wary of. Just put on the breaks if uncertain.
  • Other Useful links: Here’s a good overview on all sled rides in the Bavarian alps

 Picture Gallery

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