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Höllental (Valley of Hell)

July 28, 2012

After two days in Prague my dad, Thomas and I were on the road again. This time we were headed for Zugspitze, highpoint of Germany. We knew we would not climb the peak because there would be too much snow on the upper section of the route, but the Wettersteingebirge is a great area for hiking in general. We picked up the rental car in Prague and drove to Munich, where we stopped and had lunch. At this point my camera was still broken so I could not take any pictures, but Munich has a beautiful downtown and pedestrian district with markets and shops. Take my word for it, or Google it.

We left Munich, and drove to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where we stayed for the rest of the weekend. Garmisch is very nice, and has a beautiful pedestrian district with lots of restaurants, shops, and beirgartens. After getting a map and an update on snow conditions we had dinner and got ready for tomorrow’s hike, up Höllental (Valley of Hell). I dropped my camera on the ground in the hotel room, and it began working.

After getting up and having breakfast we drove to the trailhead and began the hike. It began as a pretty steep hike but leveled off after awhile, as we skirted a cliff and walked on the top of the Höllentalklamm. The Höllentalklamm is similar to the Partnachklamm, they both are long slot canyons carved into the limestone of the Zugspitze massif, with walls 60 meters high and a width of a couple meters in places.

We met up with the trail that goes through Höllentalklamm, passed hordes of tourist who has taken that route, and made it to the Höllentalangerhütte. There was snow on the trail in places, and I was forced to wear my snow goggles because my sunglasses were stolen on the Prague metro.

Thomas and I brought our climbing harnesses and wanted to give the via ferrata (or klettersteig in German) a go. My dad took a break at the hut while Thomas and I left our extra gear and took off up the trail.

After hiking awhile we got to the base of the klettersteig, where the cables began. We put on harnesses and helmets and started up. We were both using homemade setups of slings to twist-locking biners. The setup is cheap, but not very safe or efficient. For a single go on an easier ferrata it was fine, though unlocking the biners between placements in the wall was a pain. I think that via ferrata is awesome because it is solo-climbing without all the ropework and reclimbing pitches to clean them. We passed the brett, a famous traverse of a blank wall, and made it to the top of the klettersteig. At the top there was a steep snowfield, and we decided to head back down.

We descended the ferrata and made it back to the Höllentalangerhütte, grabbing my dad from a nap on the way. We took a different route back, through the Höllentalklamm. The slot canyon is amazing, it was so thin across that we could nearly reach out to touch the other side. In places we walked through a tunnel in the rock, with small galleries to see the canyon from. In many areas the canyon was completely snowed in, from wall to wall, and the views from the galleries were simply snow and the sound of rushing water below. Water poured in from various waterfalls and through the rock in the tunnels, soaking us. If you go, make sure you wear a waterproof jacket.

We paid the fee on exit from the Höllentalklamm, and finished up the hike. It was another beautiful day on the trail.

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