Time: 8h. Up: 1730m. Down: 480m.
Distance: 17.5km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 14: Oberstdorf (813m) to the Fiderepasshütte (2067m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

You now head south into the heart of the Allgäuer Alps along another dramatic ridge trail to an isolated hut on a high barren saddle. As with the end of the previous stage, ski lifts and slopes abound, but although many hikers complain about what the skiing industry has done to the countryside I’m not one of them.

When one looks at the manicured landscape and strolls through the picture-perfect villages it is easy to forget that until less than a century ago the Alps were one of the poorest regions of Europe. Until relatively recently wealth was based primarily on trade, agriculture and industry, and the Alps were a barrier to the first, unproductive for the second, and unattractive (because far from major markets and easy transport) for the third.

Tourism, primarily driven by skiing, changed everything. One of the main reasons why the Alps are so enjoyable for hikers today is the excellent infrastructure (huts, hotels and restaurants)... and for that we have skiers to thank. That thought, I find, makes the occasional intrusion of ski lifts and slopes along the H2H much easier to bear.

Head south out of Oberstdorf and walk up to the Freibergsee (928m). After skirting its northern shore climb further via Hochleite (1185m) to the Söllerhaus (1445m), from which you follow the trail up the ridge to the Fellhorn (2038m), then over the Gundsattel to the Kanzelwand peak (2058m). Although the ridge trail continues on over the Hammerspitze to the Fiderepasshütte, it turns into a tough and poorly marked Klettersteig. It is better, therefore, to descend to the Kühgundalpe (1745m), from which another trail will take you back up to your goal for the day: the Fiderepasshütte.

Alternatives: if the weather is bad but you need to hike anyway, then it is probably best to avoid both the ridge and the Fiderepasshütte altogether. Instead follow the Via Alpina for the day and walk south from Oberstdorf several kilometers along the valley road to Birgsau (950m), from which a trail climbs up to the Mindelheimerhütte (2013m). This is both shorter and safer (total 7h, 22km, +1300m, -50m), and you can make it even shorter by taking the minibus to Birgsau. Since the main route goes by the Mindelheimerhütte during the following stage, there are no disadvantages at all... other than the road-walking at the outset. To shorten the main route to the Fiderepasshütte, you can take one of the lifts up to the ridge... either the Söllereckbahn (saves 0.75h, +335m), or the Fellhornbahn (saves 2.5h, +1060m).
Map: K-3 Allgäuer Alpen.

The House to House blog... stage 14.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic, or have a mid-morning snack and then a late lunch at the Fellhornbahn Bergstation (after about 4h). If you plan to picnic either this stage or the next, buy food before leaving Oberstdorf.
Dinner and overnight: the only place to stay within a couple of hours is the Fiderepasshütte (+49-(0)5517/20626, 8 beds in rooms, 100 places in bunkrooms). If you take the bad weather route described above, you'll stay in the Mindelheimerhütte (messages can be left at +49-(0)8322/700153, but reservations only by fax at +49(0)171/6706673, 120 places in bunkrooms). Both are Alpine Club huts.

Getting There and Back
Oberstdorf: there is a railway station here (for train schedule information, see Die Bahn).
Fiderepasshütte: walk west down the Wildental to Mittelberg (2.75h, 6km, -950m, +100m) from which frequent buses go to the Oberstdorf railway station (for bus schedule information, see here).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Oberstdorf, centered on Mittelberg.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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