Barbed wire, Alps near Tegernsee

Seeking out adventures in an era of comfort and pandemics (part 1): Bavarian Prealps

Prelude

Modern life in 1st world societies has removed hardship and danger from everyday human existence for the most part. Practically speaking, this is even more so during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

A great percentage of the office employees can (or have to) work from home, and the sole reason to leave your house is to buy food and other essentials in the grocery a few hundred meters (in the worst case) away.

So the temptation to immerse oneself entirely in alternate realities like movies, TV sports, soap operas, social media and especially video games (heck, how I loved video games as a teenager! Compared with what we have today those were crude rendered imitations of real entertainment – nonetheless there had been not just only one weekend I spent behind a VGA screen) on evenings and weekends is higher than it ever was in human history.

Not surprisingly some correlation can be observed regarding the rise in popularity of highly addictive computer games and the comfortable isolation of young people these days.

The actual reality provides safety and predictability, but lacks any real world experience of an adventure.

But I don’t want to focus on video games here, so let’s turn back to the current pandemic-reality. As you might have guessed, I am one of those office workers who is living in a kind of stasis as a consequence of the ordered quarantine.

Instead of having stayed at my apartment most of the time, I’d rather met people and made new friends, or experienced some cool adventures in solitary mountain ranges in Eastern or Southern Europe.

Or anything that at least somehow emulates an adventure.

Sure enough, with all my electronic gadgets, supply stores virtually everywhere, the moderate climate in Europe and the lack of wild animals (not that I want to encounter an alligator or poisonous spiders at all costs) where could there be any real danger or outdoor adventure waiting for me?

Bavarian Prealps

Given these circumstances, this appeared like a logical step:

Making a try with prolonged hiking tours in the German part of the Alps (Alpen), a region more or less snubbed by me to date.

Alp flowers
Alp flowers

Or the Bavarian part, more precisely: Bavaria is the only German state who has shares in the Alps.

But hands down, this is far off from a real adventure, given all the infrastructure available especially in this small part of the vast mountain range (the highest peaks are not to be found here anyway but in the Western Alps, i.e. in Italy, France and Switzerland).

Nevertheless I was to expect an exhausting workout and a sense of accomplishment after such tours, at the very least (apart from that, rock climbing seems a worthwhile activity in this area as well and I might give that a try one day).

I ascended three different (and fairly typical Bavarian Alps) mountains in the last two weeks:

The popular but somewhat obstructed1 Wendelstein (1838 meters, starting point: Brannenburg on 473 meters) on May 24, the Roßstein (1698 meters, starting point: Lenggries on 679 meters) on May 31 and the Risserkogel (1826 meters, starting point: Tegernsee on 747 meters) on June 6, all of them located in the so-called Bavarian Prealps.

Like my grandfather (my father’s father) might have done there too almost one hundred years ago, since he was born and lived in this part of Bavaria his whole life (tragically he lost a leg in Russia during the 2nd World War).

Ascents in the Bavarian Prealps
Wendelstein (1838m), May 24
Roßstein (1698m), May 31
Risserkogel (1826m), June 6

The hikes were an interesting experience, albeit the comparative easiness of the ascents.

With the onset of summer, Alpine nature is in full bloom. Hence the trouble was actually not to take a break every few steps for taking more photos.

Real trouble during my (lonesome) tours did occur only once: as it was raining on my way to the Risserkogel I had to pay close attention in order to keep my footing. The rocks were quite slippery. Furthermore my water can was almost empty so I was close to quitting and returning to the Wallberghaus cottage on 1500 meters.

This had been rather negligence or (more exactly) calculated risk, because the plan was to avoid carrying too much water respectively weight. I expected some water sources on the track which unfortunately didn’t appear (or I wasn’t able to identify those).

Ascending Wendelstein was exhausting but not very hard, and climbing up the Roßstein2 peak demanded close attention as well due to the rocky and steep trail (I had chosen the more difficult southern ascent). But that was nothing really worth discussing in depth.

1 beside the large observation deck for visitors, there exist transmitters of different sizes on the peak, an observatory, and a small church

2 the mountain here described is composed of two adjacent peaks more precisely: Roßstein (1698 meters) und Buchstein (1701 meters); for ascending the latter, you need climbing experience and should carry proper equipment, like e.g. a rope

Prospect

Good news have arrived during the first week of June.

Most of the European borders will get re-opened with the beginning of the month, so I am looking forward for upcoming trips to Corsica, the Fatra mountains in Slovakia or perhaps some unknown places in Scandinavia.

Featured image: Barbed wire fence in an Alps valley near Tegernsee