Ski touring near Munich is not hard to find. In recent years its been a little less-than-spectacular due to the low snowfall we’ve had. This year is different! The snow has fallen deep. We’re looking better in December than the last five years!
With all that snowfall though – come other problems. Snow doesn’t grow from the ground up, it falls from the sky. Today was an example, with light snowfall, but hurricane-force winds up high to go with it. Wind is the builder of avalanches. It transports the snow to low-lying spots. Loading it up in deep drifts just waiting for a skier to disturb their deadly balance.
Markus and I were looking for a route that didn’t take us into the high alpine, and had some shelter. The Bavarian weather service had issued a storm warning. Trees were the theme of the day. Good thing too! The Bavarian mountains are filled with good tree runs, offering some of the best ski touring near Munich. You just gotta know to zig when everybody else zags.
We met at the trailhead at eight AM. Not so early, but not late either. We were some of the first on trail, parking at the lot of the little ski lift in Unterammergau, right above the Schleifmühle, a great place for a bite to eat, by the way. High clouds were moving by at a moderate pace – but we didn’t feel the wind on our faces – yet…
My hands were cold. I kept my hoods up, and didn’t use my poles to generate more heat. I started spinning my arms at the shoulders to take advantage of centrifugal force to force the blood in. Marcus asked me if I wanted to stop and do a little yoga. (he was kidding – BTW. These days, you can’t be sure…)
There is a fork in the road before long. Following to the right will put you on a ridge. Not exposed, but if its windy, it can get uncomfortable. We bore to the left, and stayed in the drainage until later. This is the way to the Pürschlingshäuser, a few huts a ridge over to our goal, but we would traverse and stay comfy. Both of these spots are great places for ski touring near Munich. Both offer lots of variations in how to climb, and to descend. A nice plus. Marcus comes here a lot.
Making the ridge above the huts was a treat. Unfortunately – they are closed this winter for some maintenance, but in other years, you can get a bite to eat or a beer here. Very nice. The view was rad!
If you follow the ridge up above the houses, you’ll make the Teufelstättkopf. It was here that we began to feel the wind and man was it blowing! Hoods went up, and I even got out my facemask for this one! The wind was howling and moving a lot of snow over the ridge. At the rate it was going – it was clear that dangerous drifts could pile up in minutes – not hours.
We skipped the scramble to the top of the Teufelstättkopf, and decided to ski down the skiers left of the rock peak, into the Teufelstättkar. This was sheltered down low, and as the “alternate” route, it usually has less tracks. We zigged where everyone else zagged – and got rewarded well. Ski touring near Munich can be jammed with people. Knowing an alternative or two can make a huge difference in the quality of the skiing. This is one of those.
We ripped the skins and got out of the wind, forgoing the customary tee and biscuits routine. We carefully threaded the wind-loaded and steep entry. Following proper protocol, we single skied it gingerly until we got into the gut, where the angle goes softer and the wind hadn’t loaded it up so much. There were only a few tracks, so everybody got their own line – and what a line it was! Well up over boot-top with a creamy and easy to ski consistency! We smashed those crystals and met at the bottom of the slope all smiles!
Another climb was in order and we made the three-hundred meter re-tour in quick time. We both thought about lapping – but it was clear that the weather was getting worse. We continued back to the base of the peak and stuffed the skins into our jackets for the last time. Soon, we were tracking the slopes to right side of its ledges.
Here, there was even more snow, and with each turn, it was billowing up to hip level. The terrain here is rolling, so we both got some hang time. I thought briefly about another run up, but we could feel the wind. It was time to go!
The way out meanders through well-spaced trees and is not steep. The snow is so good right now, skiing on both sides of the track is possible too. We saw lots of people coming up. Strange, as this is usually the way down. I felt sorry for them that they were walking into a maelstrom. We hit the forest road and made zero turns all the way to the car!
If you are looking for an day trip to go ski touring near Munich, and if you are looking to stay in the trees because of poor visibility or wind – a tour to the Teufelstättkopf might be just the thing.
Parking Lot at the Ski Lift in Unterammergau: Liftweg 1, 82497 Unterammergau, Germany
Between one and a half hours for the experienced, and up to three for inexpirienced
The route is not danger-free – particularly some of the highest slopes near the ridges have both the angle and the loading to cause an avalanche. Be aware!