Riffelscharte – the gateway between Höllental and Eibsee

Its Saturday morning and time for another adventure. I have just reunited with Michi on Zugspitze and we are wondering, what to do next. The answer is easy: Straight back to hell!

Michi managed to get two beds on Höllentallagerhütte. There is our plan. We take the cogwheel train from Zugspitzplatt to Hammersbach and climb towards Höllental through the magical forrest. Its quite crowded, today, especially the Höllentalklamm. Its still an impressive site but we rush through to get away from the crowds.

We relax by the river directly at the beginning of the Klamm. With new energy, we tackle the last climb up to Höllentallagerhütte.

The hut is still crowded with day tourists, but they start to leave soon. They leave us with a beautiful mountain panorama, peace and quiet. We have dinner outside and end the evening playing cards in the guest room.

Day 2 (05.07.2020)

Michi managed little sleep in her first night in an DAV hut. I sleep well, leading to a late breakfast and late start at ca. 7am. We plan to part ways and meet again at Eibsee.

Michi descends to Hammersbach to take the train to Eibsee. She gets to enjoy the Höllentalklamm by herself, before the tourist crowds arrive.

I plan to tackle the Riffelscharte. A sign at Höllentalhütte proclaims that the ascent to Riffelspitze (via the Scharte) is suitable for kids from 12 years onward. “This should be easy”, I think as I sweat my way towards the end of Höllental. The sun is hot; its a beautiful day.

Almost directly after the point where the trail departs from the Zugspitz trail, I start to wonder what alpine capabilities 12 year olds have today. The trail winds upwards along an almost vertical face. I need to use my hands frequently and even climb a bit. Two sections are secured by ropes. Tough kids.

Once I reach the top of the first wall, the terrain changes and becomes more hiking friendly. The way to Riffelscharte takes another ca. 30min until the mountain drops away and the Grainau valley and Ammergauer Alps become visible.

I take a break to refule. I actually manage to eat about 1/4 of the ration, the hut team prepared for me and which can feed all mountain climbers in a 50km radius for a year, if necessary.

My knees are still a bit week from the 12 year old climb, so I decide to leave the Southern Riffelspitze for next time.

Instead, I gear up for the via ferrata, which marks the first part of my descent. It is a beautiful climb. Eibsee is in view during the entire descent. Secured, the climb feels quite good.

At the bottom, I meet very different characters, a swiss couple in sneakers that ask for help to get over a small snow field, as well as a solo mountain guide, who pauses a minute on the snowfield, overlooks the ca 1km gravel slope that stretches below into the forest and jumps down in a staright line. Only minutes and he is at the bottom. I realize later that should have followed him.

Instead, I follow the mountain line to the left to Riffelriss train station. From there, I take the apparently old trail to Eibsee. First, the trail runs underneath the cable car. But suddenly, the GPS sends me into the bushes to the right. There appears to be an extremely narrow trail, which runs through a lot of shrubbery with some very narrow passages only to emerge at the bottom of the gravel field where the guide disappeared an hour earlier.

The trail continues to play hide and seek in the thick shrubbery (Latschenkiefern). Feels great to be here by myself. Eventually, the path becomes a bit more walkable.

But only when I cross the cogwheel tracks and see the familiar sign, which says “To Eibsee”, I realize that I am not lost but on an actual trail.

The remaining kilometers are not spectacular and not super nice. However, Michi waits at Eibsee Alm with cold drinks and good food. We celebrate a successful weekend before going back to Munich.