Arnplattenspitze - A Gem Between Wetterstein and Karwendel
Updated: Nov 15, 2020
After the secret trail, I posted about last weekend, I now want to focus on another somewhat underrated hike, close to the German – Austrian border. This tour is hidden in the Arnspitzgruppe, a group of eight peaks, that are counted towards the Wetterstein Region. At the same time, these peaks mark the border between the Wetterstein and Karwendel Regions. Which means that you actually have great views of both mountain chains while standing on of the tree Arnspitzen.
One of the three, because there are actually three mountains with that name. You have the Große Arnspitze (Big Arnspitze) which is the most accessible of the three, the Arnplattenspitze, which I want to focus on here, and the Mittlere Arnspitze (Middle Arnspitze) nestled between the two. There actually is an alpine climbing route connecting all those three together. However, the difficulty of this route is actually far beyond the scope of this blog. So I would like to focus only on the Arnplattenspitze.
The ascent of this mountain is actually relatively manageable, at least up to the last twenty meters, which are reserved for very surefooted climbers only. So without further delay, here are:
Four Reasons to do this tour
An unusual location, allowing for views of the Karwendel and Wetterstein Regions.
A very unfrequented trail allowing you to enjoy the solitude of the mountains.
It is a relatively short tour, allowing you to plan this trip as a half-day adventure, which is especially useful if you arrive by car from Munich, and plan to do this on the weekend, as you will be able to start the drive home early compared to all the other day-trippers and thus avoid the traffic jams common in the region.
If you go for the peak, you have a chance to climb up some UIAA II rated sections. Although you should only attempt this if you are an experienced climber.
Finding the parking lot in the town Arn is actually the first challenging part of the tour, as it is not really marked. Coming from Mittenwald, you pretty much have to take the first possible left, over a bridge and then right. The next challenge is paying for the parking ticket, as the machine only accepts coins. Luckily the price for the parking ticket is relatively low at 4€ for the entire day. There is also an environmentally friendly method to get here: The closest train stations that offer a connection via bus are either Mittenwald or Seefeld in Tirol and with departures at about every half hour. And both those stations are very easily reached by train from Munich.
Now from the parking lot, we first follow the Leutascher Arche downstream, until we cross a small bridge over the Arnbach. Directly after the bridge, we start our ascent on a little hiking trail, that immediately jumps up the mountainside. Within only two kilometres there are more than five-hundred meters of ascent waiting. And in case you can not imagine how steep that is: That is more than half of the tours ascent, crammed into less than a quarter of the distance walked during that tour.
The path leads through a rocky slope, only sparsely overgrown with pine trees. The landscape actually reminded me of the shores around the Croatian town of Dubrovnik, where a similar mix of stones and pines can be found. This surface of rocks and dried pine needles also leads to some complications in regards to navigation, as not everywhere a clear path can be identified and the way-markings are sometimes a little sparsely placed. Also,, there are plenty of animal paths crossing our own, and being let astray by them is easy enough. I myself followed one of those paths for quite a while, but to no harm, as it reconnected with the marked trail after a time. At about 1664 m of elevation, we reach the conclusion of the steep section, and at the same time the first notable point. There is an old hut, that is quite vandalized. Its door is open, the windows are broken the and cooking place inside destroyed. On the floor, there are glass splinters and nails in abundance, and both the beds are still equipped with blankets and sheets. It was quite an eerie place to walk past, especially as it got a little bit foggy from low hanging clouds at the time. I do not know the story behind this hut, however, finding such a place in this usually well-maintained region is quite unusual.
The path leads us directly past the hut, and from here on out it is also much easier to hike, now following loosely along the ridgeline, through a sea of mountain pines. Shortly after we reach the Zwirchkopf (1769 m). Form here, we have our first great views in our back the Wetterstein, and before us the upcoming peaks and the stone tower of the Arnplattenspitze. At least you can enjoy those views, as for my part, I was standing directly in a cloud, and while I could see what was behind me, the path in front of me was shrouded in mist.
From the Zwirchkopf it is a short, but steep descent, a short walk over a broad ridge and afterwards a very steep, but short, ascent towards the Anrkopf (1933 m). Especially the latter part of this trail has some highlights to offer. Time and again it lowers into small burrows that are overgrown with mountain pines on both sides. It feels like walking through a green tunnel in places, and the grassy surface in those burrows also makes for comfortable walking.
After the Arnkopf there is another short descend and another steep trail towards the Weißlehenkopf (2002 m) waiting. Now on this peak, the weather finally cleared for me, and I was able to enjoy the fantastic view over the Arnplattenspitze. The Isar Valley and the Karwendel up ahead were still shrouded in mist, but at least I was able to see my goal. Also, the first section requiring actual usage of my hands came up shortly before the Weißlehenkopf. Since there were still plenty of clouds around my peak, I guessed the situation there would not be comfortable enough for a long break and therefore decided to take my lunch right next to the tiny cross of the Weißlehenkopf. I also met the first other hikers of the day here, two climbers who came up my intended descent and intended to attempt the crossing over all three Arnspitze peaks.
This reminds me that I found in some sources the way I had chosen as ascent recommended as the descent. I would personally not recommend it. Both paths are equally steep; however, my chosen descent has a way better-maintained trail and is also shorter. So if you follow my track, I personally recommend you not reverse directions.
But before there could be a decent, there was another ascent to master. The path from the Weißlehenkopf towards the Arnplattenspitze was easy enough. Still, it soon became steeper and steeper, more exposed, closer to the ridgeline until it concluded below the stone tower that forms the peak of the Arnplattenspitze. Let me tell you a word of warning about those last twenty meters. The climb up is easy enough, with the route even being marked by dots of black and red paint. However, what you should not fail to consider is the way down. Because for me, that reached the edge of my comfort level of what it was prepared to do without a rope. Still, the surface of the rock is equipped with plenty of footholds and places to grab onto, so for those with climbing experience and the confidence necessary, it should be possible. All others I recommend stop right below the start of the climbing section and enjoy the view from here. In my case, with the peak (2170 m) largely surrounded by clouds, there was nothing at the top which was worth the risk.
Anyways I made it down again, and from here on out the descent begins. The first part was, as mentioned before, quite steep but luckily not very long. After reaching the Adlerweg (1436 m) the grade eases off again, and from here on out it is just a forest road going downhill and back to our parking lot. There are no huts on the trail, so in case you should be hungry, there is a chance to get some great local food in the town of Leutasch to reward yourself for the effort.
And from here there is only one thing left: To get back home and plan your next adventure.