Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hiking through the karst formation of „Gottesackerplateau“

The “Gottesackerplateau” is the widest karst plateau in the Alps stretching out several square kilometers. It offers fantastic rock formations and a wonderful world of mountain plants including orchids and the likes. The plateau is located west of the Kleinwalsertal and southwest of Oberstdorf, partly in Austria (Vorarlberg) and Germany (Bavaria).

This August we stayed with friends for one week in the lodge of our Skiing Club in the area of “Wäldele” in the Kleinwalsertal. This makes a perfect starting point for the hike to the Gottesackerplateau. If you stay elsewhere in the region you want to start the hike at the “Auenhütte” (base station of Ifen skiing area) which can be reached by car or bus.

To shorten the trip a little bit we took the chair lift from “Auenhütte” up to “Ifenhütte”. From the “Ifenhütte” the hike starts quite steep, if you are not warm yet, you will be soon. After half an hour we reached the edge of the “Ifenmulde”. “Ifenmulde” is a little valley in the shadow of the “Hohen Ifen”-mountain.

During the hike along the rock wall of the “Hohen Ifen” through the “Ifenmulde” I took several pictures of the “Hohe Ifen” to stitch them together to a panorama.

Hoher Ifen

The further hike towards the “Hahnenköpfle” which is the mountain north to the “Hohen Ifen” is accompanied by a variety of mountain plants including alp azalea and gentians.


After around 1½ hours we reached the top of “Hahneköpfle”, this offers a great view over the “Gottesackerplateau”. Unfortunately from the west clouds were moving in covering the view towards Lake Constance.

Gottesacker from Hahneköpfle summit

After a rest for lunch at the “Hahneköpfle” and filling up our water bottles at the “Bergadler” we headed towards the “Gottesackerplateau”. The path is marked well every few meters and still it is strongly recommended not to walk through the plateau with bad weather since you have to walk over the rock and no obvious path is visible, you have to search your own way step by step, rocks are separated by gaps and cracks from some millimeters to dimensions that can swallow trucks.

Look out for this, not to get lost

And don't step in there

Even if we had to watch our steps permanently one can enjoy the strange rock formations, the gaps the columns forming this karst area. The name “Gottesacker” is a rarely used German word meaning cemetery! If you want, the area where the rock columns stand could be a turning point returning the way you came so far. That area is reached after 1 to 1½ hours depending on the time you spend enjoying the views.

After two hours of hoping from rock to rock and a little bit of climbing in between we reached the former “Gottesackeralpe” that is the intersection of several hiking paths. From here on we start our decline back to the valley. The way leads still over rocks through little canyons and is framed with a beautiful range of plants.

On the midway of the decline we passed an archeological site we some years ago scientists found tools, bones, fireplaces etc. from stone age 6000 B.C.
The whole decline took us another two hours it stays rocky almost to the end and stretches quite long. The whole hike including breaks, the time to take some photos etc. took us seven hours. The pure walking time is rather 5½ hours.