A note at the start of the trail clearly stated that this year the Höllentalanger hut
had been closed earlier as usual "for the winter season" due to essential construction work.
Two hours later and about 600 m (2,000 ft) higher we stood in front of what was once a huge alpine hut
. My friends and I did not expect it to be already demolished. It was interesting to see that a lot of other people also brought their own food and visited the place on a sunny autumn Saturday for some kind of spontaneous farewell party.
A short look around will assure you that heavy avalanches are common during the winter season in this terrain. Still, this place is a well known strategic spot on a highly popular but challenging route leading to Germany's highest peak Zugspitze
. From here it takes at least five hours to deal with another 1,575 m (5,165 ft) gain in elevation, including a glacier
and a via ferrata. Weather can change quickly in alpine regions and this might lead to extreme temperature drops, so better think about your equipment early even if the forecast predicts fine weather.
The original hut at this place was built in 1893 and extended about 30 years later. From that time on it had a capacity of about 100 beds for mountaineers. Over the last years demand for comfort and security had grown while everybody realized that the condition of the ageing building wasn't up to date. That's why the owner, a section
of the German Alpine Club
, had to make a decision: either put more money into an old but beautiful structure or make a new start following a modern concept.
Every piece of construction gear and material needs to be transported by helicopter since the hut's small material ropeway is only designed to transport food (and beer, which actually counts as food in Bavaria). There are also no streets leading here, only paths through a gorge and other alpine footpaths. One of those paths leads to a place where I already shot my Best Of 2009
panorama. Please have a look at its caption to read more about the name of the hut and the valley. While you see that panorama you might find a familiar, only mirrored silhouette since both views are just separated through a peak. Hint: move this panorama to the front of the yellow track dumper. Now look at the huge peak right above it...
If the current plans work out the new hut will open at the start of the mountaineering season in May 2015.