Sonntag, 17. März 2019

Mauerläufer ferrata with a pinch of the Blassen ridge

Hi there! 😊

Don't jump to wrong conclusions: that blog entry is not a recipe despite the title. 😇
The story is about two Stoffel who went forth to escape from the heat - and might have some similarities with "The story of the youth who went forth to learn what fear was". 😂

Actually, DF and I had planned to pause with further hiking and climbing tours so there would be enough goals left for our long summer vacation. We had planned to spend tome relaxing days in the Rhine-Main-area; some bouldering, geocaching or whatever would come to our minds. 
What happened that we abandoned our good resolutions?
The first trigger was the weather forecast. After I had seen that more than 35°C were forecasted for our area (Wednesday, 25th of July 18), I had checked the forecast for Garmisch-Partenkirchen at a whim. I realized a liiiiittle difference between the temperatures. So, I jocularly told DF that it should only be about 24°C in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
DF sent me the comparison between the two areas on Thurday and it was frightening.
Since we both are not very heat-resistant, the fun became more and more serious. The main idea was to escape the massive heat. We still had the problem of choosing a suitable tour for the weather conditions. We agreed on the fact that the mountains are already like an oven with 24°C. I suggested a tour on a northern side but I had to decline DF's idea of the "Eiger Nordwand". 😅  
Finally, I remembered the Mauerläufer (wallcreeper) ferrata which mostly follows the north side. DF had planned a tour only a short time later including the ferrata and the lower part of the Blassen ridge (complete east ridge of the Hohe Gaif). Nothing could have stopped us from that point on.

Long story short: we wanted to climb one of Germany's most demanding ferratas at the north side of the Bernadeinkopf to escape the heat at home - and not even to mention the rest of the tour. If that's not crazy, I don't know. 😂

Since there were no suitable parking spaces to stay over night close to the Alpspitzbahn, we spent the night on a parking space below the Eibsee.   

Morning panorama from the parking space

The alarm rang unusually late at 06:20 am but we had already been awake because of the light and other hikers. A wonderful saturday had been forecasted. We had breakfast and drove to the parking space at the Alpspitzbahn afterwards. DF and I had to wait in the queue but we were lucky and could take the first cable car upwards. It had been wise to be so early because the crowds became bigger and bigger with every additional second...😨

We floated up towards the Osterfelderkopf at 08:00 am and even had a very nice encounter. Another hiker (Hi there Oli! I hope your tour was a great one! 😊) recognized DF and talked to him. The travel time was over much faster for poor DF who was tortured by his fear of heights.

At the Osterfelderkopf, we made a little detour to the AlpspiX. The viewing platform is built over and above the mountain so you could look down about 1.000 m into the Höllental. It's really intriguing escpecially when the platform is lightly shaking in the wind. 😅 We continued our way after some spectacular pictures and a short video take. Our path followed the plateau trail downwards to the entry of the Mauerläufer ferrata.  

Panorama from the Alpspix
DF on the Alpspix

Two Stoffel on the Alpspix
It was about 09:20 am when we reachend the ferrata's beginning and put on our climbing equipment. A helmet is an absolute necessity for the Mauerläufer ferrata because of the high risk of rockfalls at the walls of the Bernadeinkopf. We also saw little and medium sized rocks from time to time during our climb. 
The Mauerläufer was classified as Germany's most demanding ferrata when it was built in 2009/2010. That was the reason why I chose to put on my climbing shoes and I have to say that it was the best thing I could have done. 

At the feet of the Bernadeinkopf - you see the ferrata's beginning on the left
View towards the Estergebirge
The first part (difficulty D/E) was already quite demanding but doable. There were some of the very few artifical steps of the whole ferrata. I had my usual starting problems and needed some time to get into the flow. It still was not cakewalk from that point on but I had a better feeling.

The ferrata was almost vertical in the partly overhanging walls. You mostly won't find any steps or footholds. There are also no real spots for a nice and relaxing break - so I had to make a virtue out of necessity and use my rest loop very often. That way, I had the chance to relax my arms, to find out the lie of the land and hook up my climbing set. My "most relaxing" break was with 100-150 m of nothing under me. I somehow had get used to it. 😲

DF right after the beginning of the ferrata
View back - our "way" lead up there 
Fun at the ferrata 😅
The distance between the footholds reminded me of the Coburger ferrata (which is much shorter!). The single footholds were wide apart which meant that falling down would have been quite painful and deep. So I had to work by all available means and use my rest loop quite often. One might have it easier if one is about 1.90 m talls (my body just stopped growing 15 cm below that...too bad). 😒 I can also tell you that carabiners do not taste well - but it was sometimes my only way to hook that damn thing. Even DF had to use both carabiners at some points and that showed me that it was really not a walk in the park. 

Steep up - with the ladder

Steep down
Time for a short break 😊
The ladder made of wire cable was surprisingly easy for me and the bridge built out of three wire cables right before the ferrata's end was a huge fun for DF and me. 😁
All in all, I have to say that the Mauerläufer ferrata is hard-core! It is like  non-stop vertically running up the wall for about 2-3 hours. The ferrata is brutal for your arms and my hands showed it. I had already open blisters after 2/3 of the whole ferrata. There are for sure better places to put band-aids on open wounds. 😔 Thank you, DF, for supporting me doing that so that my backpack didn't fall down. 

A relaxing part 😂
Three wire cable bridge
The torture ended at 12:30 pm when we reached the Bernadeinkopf. The ferrata left its marks on me: two bloody knees, two blisters and several nasty scratches. 😅

We took our time and had a long break before we marched on towards the Stuibensee ("Stuiben lake"). From there on, we had to follow a small and very uncomfortable trail to the Mauerscharte ("Wall wind gap").

View towards the Stuiben, Dreitorspitzen, Hoher Gaif and Blassen ridge
Stuibensee and Hoher Gaif
The trail between the lake and the wind gap was filled with gravel or lead over slabs of rock with nasty holes inside. They were tempting for breaking some bones... and above all was the overwhelming heat, which felt like walking against a massive wall with every step. Our flight from the head did not completely work out in the end...😖
We only proceeded very slowly that way and reached the Mauerscharte at 02:30 pm. The sky did not leave its best impression at that time because it looked like a thunderstorm could start anytime...

We literally turned our back to the Stuibengipfel. The letters "Schü" and a red arrow were written on a wall to mark the beginning of the Schützensteig ("shooter's trail"). We had to follow that trail for a short time and found the first official signs after a curve. DF and I had to follow the trail until it bended sharp to the left towards the Reintal. 

View back to the Stuiben and their spectacular scarp
We followed the ridge straightforward from that point. It was said to follow the ridge in the most tour reports - that was exactly what we did until we reached a part with brittle rock ledges. It was too steep to climb down the direct way and also too brutal to climb up - and we didn't know at all what the correct way was. It was almost 04:00 pm and the clouds looked nastier than before so we decided to stopp and go back. 
We might have mastered the ridge without those difficulties but the risk was too high for us under the given circumstances.

On the ridge
We had already made it that far.

View back to the Hohen Gaif and the Alpspitze with ominous clouds 😱

We returned to the Mauerscharte and took a longer break so we could regain some strength for the long way back. 

Sleeping Beauty DF 😴
We made a short detour to the Stuibenspitze so that we had at least one more summit on our tour. I remembered that the "normal" trail between the mountain pines was extremely nasty because I had been there two years ago. DF suggested to climb up the small west ridge. It looked unmakeable at the first view but turned out to be a nice walk up, despite the mean Alpine thistle I grasped...😑

View from the  Stuibenkopf (1.924 m) to the Stuibenspitze (1.908 m) 
Summit cross at the Stuibenkopf 
We did not stay for long at the summit and descended over the east ridge. It was parallel to the scrap. You could say that DF turned a blue hiking route into an alpine climbing adventure by going that way. 😅

Scarp at the Stuibenspitze - The Stuiben wall
We went down the grassy mountain's crest to the Stuiben-Alm ("Stuiben alp") without further detours. It was a self-caterer's hut. The alp had upgraded some stuff since 2016 and had a drinking water fountain and solar-panels! Wow!  
I knew the trail from that point on and we followed the relaxing Bernadeinsteig ("Bernadein trail") through the Stuiben forest and up to the Kreuzeck. We passed that popular mountain at 08:20 pm.
Unfortunately, the trail was full of gravel and extremely steep from that point on. It was not very comfortable to descend down to the valley like this.
The Kreuzeck might not be one of the most demanding mountains but it's still steep and not nice to walk down.

We reached our car finally at 09:30 pm with the last daylight. The descent had been very exhausting and I was glad when we reached the car at least.    

Conclusion to the tour:
Not everything had worked out as planned but it still was a very demanding, exciting and varying tour. 😊
I would not suggest the Mauerläufer ferrata for rookies. I somehow made it but I really had to struggle my way up. It might have been easier without the 10 kg of weight on my back... The ferrata is really difficult but it rewards you with wonderful views and keen insights.
The Stuibensee is worth a visit even if it had not much water when we were there. 
The Stuiben summits are also a wonderful goal because they are like a viewing platform between the Schachenschloss ("Schachen castle"), the Dreitorspitze, the Grieskarscharte ("Grieskar wind gap"), the Alpspitze and many other prominent landmarks in that area. The long ascend might put off many people from that goal so one won't meet the usual tourists back there.
We had overdone ourselves with the Lower Blassen ridge for that day and we still have a score to settle with it.
It was the first "real" ridge for me and even if I do not have fear of heights, I have to admit that it was really not easy for me to walk over certain points. Maybe I will get used to it after the 100.000th ridge. One thing is for sure: We will come back again. 😈 

You can find DF's video here: Maximal vertikal - Mauerläuferklettersteig, Unterer Blassengrat, Stuibenspitze

See ya 'til the next mischieve!

Your Katharina

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