For Martin, hiking in times of Coronavirus lockdowns means rediscovering mother nature just a few steps beyond his front door. That’s because there are plenty of great mountains near where he lives, perfect for hiking even in winter. Wearing his Maier Sports Gravdal XO jacket and a pair of Tech Pants, he’ll take us on a tour of Rabenkopf mountain.
Preparing for local adventures
The Rabenkopf (“Raven’s head”, 1.555 m) is a mountain near lake Kochelsee in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Hiking to the top starting at Pessenbach, you’ll need to walk about 6 km, ascending about 900 m. But once you’re at the top, you’ll have an incredible view of the Karwendel Mountains, lake Kochelsee and, towards the north, of Munich as well as the nearby Ammersee and lake Starnberg.
But before I get going, I make sure I have everything I’ll need for the journey. This includes warm hiking clothes and a couple of small spikes to strap to the soles of my boots, which are called “Grödel” in German hiking jargon (flexible walking crampons). I’ll need them to be safe on the slippery snow and the partially ice-covered hiking paths.
Choosing the right outfit for the trip, I decide to take the Maier Sports GRAVDAL XO M outdoor jacket and a pair of Maier Sports TECH PANTS M. Both of these are advertised as highly robust and warm winter hiking clothes. I’m curious to see how well they actually perform on a winter hike.
The journey begins
I’m off to a good start. The way to the Rabenkopf is rather steep from the very start, so I start sweating despite the low temperatures. That’s why after the first strenuous ascent, I already experience a situation which is very common among hiking enthusiasts: My body heat has increased very quickly over a short period of time.
Normally, this would be the point where I’m itching to remove the top layer of my hiking clothes. It’s a good thing that the Maier Sports GRAVDAL XO M jacket features extra-long underarm zip fasteners, as they allow me to increase the airflow on the inside of my clothes on the more demanding parts of the hike. Which also means I don’t have to take off my clothes in the cold just because they’re wet.
Soon, the forest canopy starts to lift and you can feel the cold wind in your face. Luckily, my windproof, breathable jacket keeps me warm with its lightweight mTHERM padding. You can feel how the sweat doesn’t accumulate in the fabric but is instead wicked away to the outside to dry. Meanwhile, the fleece lining of my softshell pants keeps my legs nice and warm.
My footsteps make pleasant little creaking sounds in the soft snow while I make my way along frozen streams and icicles hanging from the trees.
Sometimes, the areas at the edges of the path look almost like you can just about make out a frozen palace in the distance. Shortly before the final demanding ascent, I come across the Staffelalm cabin, sitting in front of the picturesque panorama of the Karwendel mountains. The abandoned cabin looks like a creature in hibernation, waiting for the coming summer season. Again and again, my eyes are drawn to the snowy mountaintops. The thick clouds on the horizon look almost mystical, heralding the snowfall to come. That’s probably why I don’t encounter a lot of other winter hiking enthusiasts on my way, despite this path being very popular with hikers.
Arriving at my destination
The last remaining metres to the summit are once again steep and rugged. But thanks to the stretch material of my pants, I have the manoeuvrability to get through this. And on the sharp rocks that I brave thanks to my Grödel spikes, my legs feel very safe, thanks in part to the reinforced parts of the outer leg hems of my pants.
Happy and satisfied, I now stand next to the summit cross, taking in the way the thick layer of snow paints the valley and mountain landscape white. I enjoy the great view while listening only to my own breath and the creaking of the snow. Up here, I seem to be in another world entirely, it’s so quiet and peaceful. Looking down to the valley, I feel all of my worries fall from my shoulders. At least for a moment, while I enjoy the winter silence, thinking of all the great winter hikes I will be enjoying shortly in the amazing winter landscape just outside my own house.