Thursday, August 15, 2013

Halfway to heaven on Mt Watzmann

The last day with my Transalpine partner, Gine, arrived and what better way to finish a perfect week than with another mountain crossing! 

Mt Watzmann is Germany's 3rd highest at 2713m, and has 3 peaks along a precariously narrow ridge which you cross with the assistance of ropes in some sections. 

We started at Wimbachbruecke (in the town of Rasmsau), heading up to the Watzmannhaus hut via a fairly well established walking track. From the hut things got steep, and we freestyled up rocky slopes to the first peak. 

Gine getting good use out of her poles heading up to the hut:

Watzmannhaus hut in the clouds:

Starting our last 800m of climbing up the steep rocky slope to the summit:

Relaxing on the highest peak of Watzmann:

From the highest peak we crossed the ridge to Middle Peak, and lastly to South Peak. The clouds helped to hide the steep drop on either side! Amazing amazing feeling up there!

The cross marking South Peak:

Finally a steep descent into a valley waited for us as we came down the other side of the mountain. The rocky scree slope made for lots of sliding until we hit a glacier moraine that we followed back to the car. 

Running down the rocky scree slope:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Lake Königssee round

Continuing my training with my Transalpine partner, Gine, we spent another day in the beautiful Berchtesgaden Alps, home of the mountains around Lake Königssee.This is a beautiful glacier-formed lake tucked deep in the mountains (Germany's 3rd deepest!), with aqua blue-green waters reflecting the peaks above and white sandy beaches to take a nap on and enjoy the view. 

The plan: to run around the lake, starting and finishing at the town of Königsee, travelling through the mountains ringing the lake. The stats: 35km, 2600m+ elevation gain, around 8 hours of hiking, scrambling, taking in the views, enjoying a beer at the Kühroith hut and finally a good soak of the legs in the lake at the finish.

Hiking up to Hochgeschirr, a stony mountain pass:
Seeleinsee, a tiny glacier-formed lake tucked into the rocky peaks: 
Hochgeschirr pass: 
The descent down into the valley on the other side of the mountain pass - nice and steep! 
Obersee, a lake formed when a landslide cut off a part of Königsee, flanked by cliffs on 3 sides:
Peaceful mountain pasture next to the lake:
In front of Obersee: 
Quick water stop for Gine: 
Running along Lake Königsee towards the chapel of St. Bartholomew:

View from the trail above Königsee:
The town of königsee at the tip of the lake, a good place to soak tired legs: 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Crossing Mountains - Transalpine is coming!

2 months ago I received an email in my inbox asking whether I wanted to partner with a German girl, Gine,  for the Transalpine race at the beginning of September. Gine is on the Salomon Germany team, and was looking for another girl to race with and somehow through the Salomon community our paths crossed and we found each other! 

Partnering with someone and sharing an 8 day race is daunting. Partnering with someone you don't know, well, this brought many considerations: Would we get along? Are we a similar speed? Do we share the same goals and attitude to being in the mountains? Through some honest Skype discussions we could establish some common ground, and in the end decided to go for it! That's how I have found myself on the edge of the German Alps, deep in Bavaria, sharing some wonderful new trails with Gine and dicovering that trail runners, and generally people who just like to get out, share the same positivity the world over.

The last week I have been visiting Gine so we could really get to know each other and to plan for our race, so where better than on a couple of 8 hour hike/run/climbs on the mountain trails! 

Zwiesel Crossing
Our first trip together - 2400m+ over 35km, and 8 hours of running, power hiking, climbing and scrambling. We started in the small town of Marzoll, running along the Saalach river, and then crossing over 4 peaks: Fuderheuberg, Hochstaufen (1771m), Zwiesel Mountain (1782), and Gamskogel - all part of the Chiemgauer Alps, and each summit marked with a 'gipfel,' a cross.
Gine on the first peak - Fuderheuberg, marked with a cross: 
Trail running often includes rock scrambling and climbing! 

Team mates: 
Gine on the summit of Hochstaufen: 
On the summit of Zwiesel Mountain, the box containing the summit book to record your name in: 
Gine descending onto lovely long ridge leading to Gamskogel: 

The cross on Gamskogel peak just visible at the edge of the ridge: 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fairytale castles and storms in the mountains

The days spent in the mountains around Füssen (Germany) have been filled with intense summer sunshine, afternoon storms with hail, lightning and thunder, beers in the mountain huts, and the joy of standing on tall peaks looking out across endless green valleys! The numerous trails, easy access and signage have made for excellent training, while my campsite next to Banwaldsee has given ample time for relaxation, napping and reading!

Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration to Disney's fairytale castle:

MarienBruecke viewed from the Pollatschlucht:

Summer alpine flowers:

Geiselstein viewed from the Ahornreitweg: 

The start of my run up to Säuling, beautiful blue skies soon to change:

Half way up, the clouds moving in fast, promising thunder and lightning:

The 2038m summit of Säuling:

Dark storms thundering during an adrenaline-fuelled descent: