Jan 1 2021 – So this post will be a bit more pointed and direct. My last about the Black Forest felt a bit wishy-washy and ill-conceived. COVID has my brain a bit scattered these days and the fact that I strung this post together is nothing short of a miracle. Of note: if you’re of the thought that, these days, everyone including you has to sit inside and do nothing but let your year slip away, you may want to close this. There’s a good chance reading about me just being happy in the mountains will fill you with rage.
Myself and my hiking buddy decided to head south into the Allgäu of Bavaria towards one of the most prominent peaks and skiing areas of Bavaria: the Nebelhorn that towers above Oberstdorf at nearly 2,300 meters. I’d known about the peak for a long time and knew that there was a groomed run that went from the very top all the way down into the town (around a 7km slope!); however, since this was during Germany’s COVID war on all things fun, we wanted to see what it would be like with no slope preparation.
Just pointing out, this war New Year’s Day. It’s safe to say I was completely hungover from the previous night as I awoke at 5AM in order to prep for the ride.
The above map is the exact starting/ending point of this incredible run. Parking is really really hard to come by, but we went on a weekday and we were there before 8:30AM…so we pulled off directly next to the beginning/end: the most convenient place possible.
Much to the disappointment of all the judgmental English speakers in the community I live near, there wasn’t a single soul near us or outdoors so we knew we’d have no problems if we encountered any Bavarian Officials.
Thus, we snapped in and began our 3.5 hour hike up to nearly 6,600ft.
During the first 30 minutes of the walk, we were not excited at the amount of vegetation peeking through the thin snow cover as well as the fact that we had to walk across an actual street…but we remembered that this entire 7km run was totally unprepared by grooming equipment… so it made sense the lower walk up wouldn’t be ideal.
The entire hike is somewhat parallel to the (at the time) inactive cable car lines so it’s easy to stay on track. Your first milestone is coming across the Bergstation Seealpe at 1,280 meters which is nestled in a deep valley which is split in half by a the Faltenbach streambed.
As with any valley, if you’re a snowboarder, you’ll have to carefully time your braking on the way back through this wide space. It’s definitely more conducive to skies due to it’s very slight decline on the way down.
At the end of this long valley, the trail turns pretty steep with lots of switchbacks. You gain loads of elevation in a pretty short amount of time and it really doesn’t let up until you arrive at the German Alpine Club’s Gaisalpe Hut near the end of the Nebelhornbahn’s dropoff. Sidenote: this all feels really awesome while you’re sweating out a gallon of German Bowle booze from not even 10-hours earlier.
We only took one break for food on the hike up so the total time getting up to the Gaisalpe Hut was around 3.5 hours.
After getting to the hut, we called the ascent complete and basked in the shadow of the Nebelhorn for a little over a half hour. Drinking beer and glühwein , eating cured meat, cheese, and switching out damp layers for dry ones. Aside from me thinking I was going to vomit at any moment, it was actually pretty amazing to just hang out and enjoy the view. We even caught view of a kite skier taking flight. We were hoping he’d biff it but ended up disappointed.
The 7km ride down is easily done with a few stopping points in order to plan the next line down. At this point, my hangover combined with the distance and altitude were really kicking my butt. I think I told my hiking buddy, “I’m going to hurl” no less than 15 times on the way down. The powder at the top was absolutely serene and resembling a pillow.
Aside from a lot of complaining, the 7 kilometers down went without incident. As expected from my earlier descriptions, we ended up scraping some undesirable terrain near the bottom so much that it hurt our souls to hear. We got to the bottom and, thanks to the tremendous parking job, walked a total of 20 feet to the car to unsnap and pack up.
I’m extremely happy I finally went to the Nebelhorn. It’s an awesome and extremely scenic hike up. The run down doesn’t solely belong to experts so, even if you’re an average boarder or skier, you can probably handle the ride down. Do yourself a favor though and check out the German Avalanche Warning Association prior to your trip. You don’t want to hike directly into TNT exploding in your face.
Go check out the Nebelhorn this COVID winter. Earn those turns!
Bis zum näschtes mal!the snowboard dad in europe