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The second highest mountain in Germany which also has the highest vertical wall of the eastern Alps (1500 m). Crossing the mountain and conquering its three peaks was an awesome experience. At times the security cable wasn't there and you had to cross the ridge without any safety ropes. 3 meters wide with a drop of 1500 meters on the other side and several hundred meters on the other... That was no place for anyone with vertigo. Definitely breathtaking and even scary at times.
Our "cross the Watzmann" tour looked something like this: 1. We took a boat from the Königsee harbor to Saint Bartholomew. 2. We climbed from St. Bartholomew to Kührointhütte where we ate and rested a while. It took about 5 hours perhaps. 3. We climbed to Watzmannhaus which took perhaps 3 hours. 4. We spent the night in Watzmannhaus and saw the most beautiful sunset ever. 5. Early next morning we climbed over the Watzmann and descended to Wimbachgriesshütte. It took about 12 hours and we ran out of water twice (there was luckily a refil possibility midway down). 6. We spent the night at Wimbachgriesshütte and hiked back to St. Bartholomew the next day. A funny detail was that once we got to the highest point on this last leg it showed a sign saying "St. Bartholomew 2,5 hours". The trip was only downhill and took us about 3,5 hours with a few breaks included. That tells you how realistic the German estimates are... Key lessons: 1. Wake up earlier at Watzmannhaus. Starting at 8 am is too late as it takes you 12 hours to go over the mountain and it will be dusk when you get back. Start at 6 am to finish in daylight and not miss the path coming downhill. 2. Bring enough water and make sure everyone in your team does the same. I had 4,5 liters which was almost enough for me but my friends ran out and I had to share so it didn't last. I carried it up, they drank it. You don't want that so make sure that everyone has enough. 3. Carry as little as possible; most of the weight you carry should be water. It is very hot up there in the summer so you don't need much clothing but do wear long clothes to avoid sunburn. 4. You need to have a very light sleeping bag with you to sleep in the huts. Very light because you need to carry it... 5. Book the huts in advance, especially Watzmannhaus is crowded. 6. Don't believe the German signs telling you that a certain leg is 2 hours. That time has been set by a professional athlete running and not having breaks. Compared to similar signs in Switzerland the German ones are completely unrealistic. 7. Be sure to wear a harness and a safety rope to clip yourself to the cables running most of the way up on the ridge . 8. Unless you're an experienced climber don't believe the locals when they say that "it's not difficult or dangerous to go over Watzmann". Getting to the first peak is easy, but after that you will be both scared as hell and very exhausted. 9. And finally: it's extremely fun and you really feel that you've won when you've done it! Make sure to buy a good wiener schnitzel and a large pint of beer when you get to the Wimbachgriesshütte! :)
We went to the salt mines as it was raining and we couldn't go to the mountains. The mines were pretty cool and we learned a thing or two about mining salt and other little neat details. It's only a few hours so you might want to take it when in Berchtesgaden. It's very cool in the mines which is nice also if it is really hot outside. They'll give you an overall to wear, but it is not very warm. It is around 10 degrees celcius in the mines so you might want to wear and long sleeved shirt and pants. The tour is in English as well, also some of the translations are suspiciously short compared to the German version of the story...
Going over the Watzmann was by far the toughest and scariest hike I've ever done. It took almost 12 hours and crossed 2 meter wide ridges where you had 1000 meters drops on both sides. For some reason there wasn't always a cable available to attach yourself to, so it was quite thrilling from time to time... During the whole day we climbed perhaps 1500 meters and went down over 2000 meters. It was over 30 degrees celcius so it was really exhausting. Well worth it though when looking back although it was not that fun all the time while doing it.
Simply amazing views! The mountain can get crowded during nice weather as all the locals want to do the Watzmann hike also. Be sure to book your bed at Watzmannhaus in advance as they get quite busy especially in the summer weekends. In the valley there are always Zimmers frei for a decent 20e per person. The local people can also give good advice on what hiking routes to take. Sport Klaus in the Berchtesgaden speaks English and gives good info on what gear to take and what route to choose. If it snows or rains, you don't want to be up there.
If you're going to the mountains while in Berchtesgaden and are missing some equipment, you should definitely shop in Sport Klaus. The prices in the shops are pretty much the same, but here they speak good English and also give you good advice. All the other shops told us that we don't need any gear to go over Watzmann but Klaus recommended that as beginners we should buy a harness. We did and I don't regret a bit, without it we would have been even more scared while crossing the Watzmann. The best shop in town!
Actually I didn't climb this but just viewed it from the Watzmann itself. Although lower than Watzmann this is a pretty awesome looking mountain with a very sharp peak. It's supposed to have only moderately difficult hiking routes (not climbing routes) to the top although it's hard to believe. The Germans might also have a different view on what's difficult and what's not. Going over the Watzmann was supposed to be easy, but is was hard and thrilling enough for hiker like me.
This made a very nice resting place on one of our hikes. When you've been hiking for a day it's great to take your boots of and stick your feet into cold water on a hot summer day. Totally refreshing. If coming from the Schneibstein direction you might have some trouble keeping on the route to here. At least we did but even though we missed the path a few times it was easy to find here as we could see the lake most of the time while descending from the mountain.
When you reach this place after climbing from Königssee, you'll be quite tired. It is just awesome to spend a couple of hours at the terrace admiring the astonishing views while having a beer and a wienerschnitzel. You'll see the mountain and you can think about the climb on the next day, but you'll also see down to the valley the distance you covered. There is no hot water though, so if you want to wash yourself, it'll be with cold mountain water.
The best things about Berchtesgaden are Kehlsteinhaus (aka the Eagle's Nest) and the mountains. The city itself is quite small and there is nothing much to do. If you're into hiking the you got to find the Sport Klaus shop in the city center. He's got good equipment, speaks English and can give you valuable advice for the hikes.
We went to Salzburg for one night from Berchtesgaden and it was quite nice. It was a nice break from trekking. Didn't have the time to go through all the places in the city though, we went for a dinner only on the river side in the old town. Oh yeah and we saw the new Audi R8 live for the first time.
One of the huts you can stop and rest while climbing the watzmann. Try the Apfelschorle, it's a great drink to squench your thirst: appel juice and mineral water. Great! We only rested here for a while and grabbed something to eat before continuing to the Waztmannhaus where we spent the night.