Time: 8.75h. Up: 1450m. Down: 1200m.
Distance: 20km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 5: Tutzingerhütte (1327m) to the Herzogstand Haus (1550m)

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

A lovely hike awaits you today through Alpine meadows and forests, leading to the Jochberg where there are beautiful views of the glacier-green Walchensee to the south, Benediktenwand to the east, Herzogstand to the west, and Kochelsee, Starnberger See, and in the far distance, if the day is clear, Munich to the north.

After this visual feast there follows a tiring descent, and an even more tiring ascent of over 700m to the Herzogstand mountain hotel where you'll (probably... see below) spend the night.

This is a day when you will see your destination for many hours before you get there. It is thus a good test of hiking personality: are you path-oriented or goal-oriented? If the former then your apparently snail-like progress towards the Herzogstand will not bother you, but if the latter, then I predict frustration!

And not just for today. Unless you can find a way to enjoy every day you spend hiking -- i.e., unless you are path-oriented -- then frustration will be your lot: the H2H is just too damn long for "getting there" to be a sufficient motivation. The simple truth is that in order to complete the H2H the path must be the destination....

Today's hike is identical with the Via Alpina, except for the climb to and initial descent from the Jochberg. From the Tutzingerhütte, go up as if to take the western route to the Benediktenwand, but continue on towards the Glaswandscharte (1324m), Staffel Alm (1310m), and the Jochberg (1565m). The standard path up the Jochberg requires you to pass by the Jocheralm underneath and to the south of the peak, then double back to climb it. However you can, if it is not wet, just head straight up its eastern side... it is a steep slope, with no visible path, but grassy and otherwise unproblematic. From the Jochberg head east and down through the woods to the Kesselberg pass (850m). There, after crossing the main road, you will find a rough forest road that winds its steep and relentless way up to the Herzogstand Haus (1575m).

Alternatives: there are two ways to shorten the day. The first is by skipping the climb up the Jochberg (saves 40 mins, +/-185m). The second is by walking down from the Kesselberg pass and around the western shore of the Walchensee to take the cable car up to the Herzogstand Haus. The base station of the cable car is on your right about 4km after you get to the lake. It can whisk you up in three minutes... assuming you get there before it closes! And unfortunately it closes early, often by 16:30. Check the website before choosing this option, because if you are too late you'll add 1.25h and +/-50m to an already long day, instead of saving 1h and +700m. The paths today are reasonably safe, because not exposed, even if the weather is bad, although in this case you should not climb the Jochberg.
Map: K-6 Walchensee.

The House to House blog... stage 5.

Click here to go to all of our H2H photos on Flickr.

Room and Board Options
Lunch: plan on having a picnic. It might be possible to get lunch at the Jocheralm, but it is frequently closed so don't count on it.
Dinner and overnight: the Herzogstand Haus (+49-(0)175/1641690, 25 beds in 11 rooms, 50 places in bunkrooms) is the only option on the mountain. The trouble is, it is often booked solid. For example, I was unable to get a room for a specific day in June in spite of contacting them in January. There are, however, plenty of places to eat and stay at in Walchensee (for a complete list, see here -- we stayed at the Schwaigerhof and enjoyed it), but if you are an H2H purist (committed to hiking the whole way) then you will be faced with a trilemma:

o    either you can have a shorter day today, but you will have to walk up Herzogstand the following morning (but this will add 2.5h to a day that is already 8.75h long),

o    or you will need to get to the Herzogstand Haus early enough today (usually by 16:45) to catch the cable car down (note that the times on the website are not always accurate!), and then the following morning take it back up (which will, however, mean that you'll have a late start since it starts at 9:00),

o    or you can deviate from the canonical H2H (which is let's face it, not such a bid deal :-).

We intended to take the second option, but when it started to rain and thunder while descending from the Jochberg we decided to just go straight to Walchensee along the shores of the lake, leaving the decision as to whether or not to climb Herzogstand to the following day.

Getting There and Back
Tutzingerhütte: the shortest way to get here is by foot (around 3.25h, +690m, 9km) from the Benediktbeuren railway station (for train schedule information see Die Bahn).
Herzogstand Haus: you can take the gondola down to Walchensee then catch a very infrequent bus to either Klais or Kochel am See, which both have railway stations (for bus and train schedules see Die Bahn).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Benediktbeuren, centered on Walchensee.

Background Information and Links
Local website: Walchensee. If you can read German, click on the German flag at the top right for much more information.

Interesting local topic:

  • Walchensee. This beautiful Alpine lake is interesting for a whole host of reasons. Let's start with its name: "Walch" is an old term for "foreigner" and its use dates back to the Dark Ages when migratory Germanic tribes settled in the area. The newly-arrived tribes settled among remnants of the local Romanized population, and they referred to the villages and areas where these people still lived as "Walch-" (and so Walchensee is the "foreigner's lake"). Interestingly, a Romance language called Ladinisch was still spoken in the Walchensee area until the 13th Century, the only place in Bavaria where this was the case. Even more interesting are the many Latin remnants in the Bavarian dialect of German... but I digress.
  • The Walchensee is 195m deep at its deepest point and as such one of the deepest of all Alpine lakes. Its depth is due to its unusual genesis: unlike most Alpine lakes, the Walchensee was created not as a result of glacial action, but instead by tectonic sinking. This part of the Alps is a folding zone, and just as with folds that form in a blanket when you push it, some folds go up and some go down. The Walchensee formed in one of those down-folds.
  • The beautiful turquoise-green color of the Walchensee is due to its high calcium-carbonate content, and it is one of the cleanest lakes in Germany as a result of a prohibition on the use of motorboats. Until 1924 the lake had little inflow, and its limited natural outflow went down the Jachen stream to the east, but in that year tunnels were dug to bring large amounts of water in from the Isar River and the Rißbach, and to take water out to a hydropower plant 200m below on the Kochelsee. From there the water flows down the lower Loisach River back into the Isar.
  • At the end of the Second World War a large quantity of gold (730 bars) and currency (US dollars and Swiss franks) was buried somewhere around the lake. Most of it was later retrieved and turned over to the Allies, but over 100 gold bars and the currency are still missing....
  • You can read more about the Walchensee here (in German).

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