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Partnach Gorge, Dressed in Icicles

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The tiny river Partnach, namesake of Partenkirchen, broke through the rocks of a mountain ridge in order to reach the valley. In thousands of years, water and ice, wind and frost have formed a deep cut through the rocks. The Partnach gorge is one of tha main attractions of Garmisch-Partenkirchen – more about the town later on.

A visit to the gorge begins at the Olympic stadium and the ski jump, where the town buses have their terminus. There are signs pointing the way to „Partnachklamm“. There is also a signboard at the beginning of the road by the stadium which tells whether the gorge is open or closed, which depends on weather conditions – checking the board before setting off makes sense. In particular in spring, when the snow is melting and the amount of water running through is much higher than in other seasons, it is likely to be closed.

From this point it is a walk of about 20 minutes along a small country road to the entrance of the gorge. This small road is in theory closed to traffic but I encountered a remarkable number of cars on the way.

The road leads through a smallish side valley with meadows and hay huts that becomes narrower and narrower. Then it reaches a few buildings including a country inn (last facilities before the gorge!)

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The Eckbauer cable car also has its base station there. This cable car looked like metal buckets hanging on a rope to me. Not exactly trustworthy. But then, I am scared of heights and cable cars are out of bounds for me anyway…

I visited in mid-winter. The gorge would have little water but the more ice. It is probably most impressive in wintertime when the rocks are covered with snow and ice and long icicles are hanging from them.

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The idea of a winter hike in the icy gorge sounds scary at first. However, the trail is well taken care of and it is really tourist-proof, cleared and sprinkled with gravel. Most of the trail within the gorge runs under rocks and through tunnels so it is dry. At spots where water is dripping there can be some ice on the ground, so watching your steps is a good idea. The trail is not suitable for neither wheelchairs, prams and strollers, nor bikes.

Shoes with good soles are necessary, more on the trails outside the gorge than inside, snow chains or spikes under the shoes are nice to have. Dress warm, inside the gorge it is notably colder than outside.

There is another advantage about visiting in winter: When there is ice, most of the water is frozen, so there is not much dripping. While you need rain gear in summer to avoid being soaked, in winter you won't be hit by more than a few occasional drops.

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The Madonna

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The narrowest part hardly receives much daylight. At the darkest, scariest spot, an image of the Madonna has been attached to the rock on the opposite side. She is there to watch over passers-by. In former times, wood from the forests further up was transported down to the main valley on this river. Workers had to stand in the gorge and prevent the wood from getting stuck, using long poles to move the tree trunks. That was before the comfortable tourist path came into existence. A dangerous job. Heavenly protection was surely needed.

The path slowly rises towards the upper exit. The gorge constantly changes its face. Every year rocks are falling, others are washed away. The forces of nature leave their marks.

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Some years ago a landslide almost blocked the gorge. The water had to find a way through. At this spot the path leads through a short tunnel. A couple of “windows” allow the view into the gorge.

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And then the miracle happened.

By coincidence I was there at the right time, in the late morning just before noon. Around 11:30-12:00 there is a rather short interval when sunlight falls into the upper end of the gorge and makes the ice shine and glitter.

Do I have to comment on these pictures?

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Then the gorge opens, and the visitor finds herself in a lovely valley. The Partnach is a shallow creek jumping over washed-round rocks, flowing through snow-covered meadows, surrounded by forests on the slopes.

It is hard to imagine that this harmless-looking creek develops the forces that created the gorge further downstream.

The cleared path shows how high the snow actually is.

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Various hiking trails lead up into the mountains from there. They are cleared from snow so winter hiking is possible. However, I decided not to continue further as I feared not so much the climb, but the descent back down on the icy, slippery trails. So I returned on the same way, back through the gorge and to the ski stadium.

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Where the creek enters the gorge

Posted by Kathrin_E 15:54 Archived in Germany Tagged snow alps bavaria bayern

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Comments

How beautiful it is in the snow!

by ToonSarah

Yes, this was amazing. I am sure that it is only half as beautiful in the summer.

by Kathrin_E

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