Hochgrat: Trekking Winter

Tour name: Hochgrat to Gündlesscharte

Degree of difficulty: Easy mountain paths
Tour length: 18 km
Total elevation: 1239 m ascent and 1239 m descent
Alignment: Southeast
Highest point: Hochgrat (1832 m)
GPS: route and track as GPX

The winter landscape in the cold season is beautiful. Wide snow-covered meadows and forests offer a paradise for all outdoor fans. Not only in summer many outdoor activities can be done in the fresh air. Also the winter offers many opportunities to enjoy nature. You can hike, put on your skis, skate or go snowshoeing, which is what we have chosen for. If you are looking for a nice little hike, this is the place to be. In a 4-day tour in the Allgäu Alps, the path from the Hochgrat cable car to the Gündlesscharte and back is very easy to master and is also suitable for beginners.

In order to start the hike in the Allgäu, one first has to get to the starting point. This can be on foot, by public transport or in your own vehicle. The station of the Hochgrat cable car offers the advantage of a big parking place. For little money the car can be parked for several days without any problems.

Day 1

Night camp at the Hochgratbahn ©Christian Hein

We reached the parking lot of the Hochgrat cable car around noon and parked the car at the very back of the parking lot. This place offers us a good starting position for our snowshoe hiking tour. After we had a short look around and bought a parking ticket for the next days, we fortified ourselves with fresh fruit and then we started. We strapped on our snowshoes, put on our backpacks and set off. The easy way would be to take the cable car up to the top. But we didn’t want that. That the cable car would still be of use to us was to be shown one day later… We decided to ascend along the ski slope for about 950 hm and had the Staufner Haus in mind as our destination. With beautiful sunshine and a bright blue sky we put one foot in front of the other and climbed the ski slope bit by bit. Of course there were people with skis and sleds on the way in this weather. We did not let this disturb us. The steep ascent became noticeable. We took short breaks to breathe and drink. A sufficient liquid supply is also very important in winter. In the light of the evening sun we reached the Staufner house. … and we found it was closed. At this point it should be pointed out that it is absolutely necessary to inform oneself in advance, as not every hut is occupied daily in winter. We wanted to sleep in the tent the next days anyway, so it was no problem. We climbed up a few more meters and reached the top station of the Hochgratbahn. Meanwhile it became evening and the last tourists made their way down to the valley. From up here there was a nice panorama. In combination with the sunset and the absolute silence the moment had something magical. We waited until the mountain station closed its daily business and made our night camp on the snow-covered ground. In order to give us another portion of warmth for the night, we cooked couscous with tomato soup. Under a starry sky we slipped into our sleeping bags. For me it was not only the first snowshoe tour, but also the first night in a tent in winter.

Day 2

The morning was going to be interesting. Since we stayed overnight at a cable car station, we wanted to pack up our tent before opening the daily operations. We managed to do that as well. After we had completely packed our things in our backpack, we started talking to the first visitors in the morning. Funnily enough one told us that he had already seen our tent this morning. “What?” The mountain station is equipped with a webcam and a livestream. So the current weather situation can be checked and it can be seen who or what is there. So is our tent. Who knows how many people have already seen us early in the morning… Oh well. We wanted to have breakfast in the mountain station. When we wanted to help ourselves at the tasty looking breakfast buffet but Christian couldn’t find his wallet. And I hadn’t brought mine. We rummaged through our things again, without success. Then we thought: “It must still be in the car.” It’s pretty sure that it is. That means we’ll have to get back down and lose half a day. So our early rise would have been for nothing. Christian explained the situation to the staff and they kindly let him go for free. After waiting for over an hour, he returns with the midday sun and his wallet. With a yeast dumpling we got enough energy for the next hours. Before we left, I bought some sunglasses. I had underestimated the sun reflection of the snow. Afterwards we marched off to the summit cross of the Hochgrat.

View of the Nagelfluhkette ©Christian Hein

In the meantime, due to the advancing time and the emperor’s weather, many tourists were on their way. This did not bother us, because our route continued to lead us over touristically untapped paths. From the summit there were two possibilities to continue. One is to go towards the Rindalphorn and do a ridge walk. The other one is to descend a little on the south-eastern side into the valley and continue walking there. The plan was to walk over the ridge with snowshoes. To have a look at the whole thing, we walked a little further after the summit cross. The path became narrower and the first hikers came towards us again.

“We do not recommend you go that way. There are two ski tracks, but the path is very narrow and there is a danger of avalanches.”

We chose the second option. We descended into the valley, left the Brunnenau-Scharte on the left side behind us and continued eastwards. When the sun came closer to the horizon, we looked for a place to stay for the night. On a slight elevation we prepared our camp. When we removed our snowshoes, we realized how deep the snow was. We sank down to our knees. Because of the larger contact surface of the snowshoe the weight is distributed and you hardly sink into the snow cover.

Day 3

The warm rays of the sun woke us up again in the tent. Also on day 3 the sun stayed with us. After an extensive breakfast with homemade muesli and the first time hair washing outside and that in winter, we set off. We walked down a steep path towards Gündleskopf. Between fir trees, open spaces, ski tracks and mountains a beautiful landscape was emerging. We did not have to rush through and could enjoy the hike. We decided not to walk far today and to return to the starting point tomorrow. There was not enough time for another stretch. We headed for the Gündlesscharte. In the early evening we arrived at this destination. It was still daylight. Enough time to prepare a warm dinner and use the sunny conditions for taking pictures. When it was dark, we lay down satisfied in our sleeping bags.

our route into the valley ©Christian Hein

Day 4

In the morning of the fourth day we became the showpiece of ski touring. Our chosen night spot was exactly on a hiking route. This triggered a few interests “What? You slept here? Isn’t it too cold?” “Yes. We did and no it was no colder than -4°C at night.” After breakfast we packed our bags and put on our snowshoes. We walked on the north side along the existing ski tracks. These led us into the valley, over bridges and past some huts, which were not in use during the winter. The last part of this tour we walked on the icy road and came back to the parking lot of the Hochgratbahn.

Conclusion: This tour is very well suited for beginners. It is important to remember that not all huts are open in winter.

Höhenprofil der Wanderung
Elevation profile of the hike

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