Paradise Karwendel: Mountaneer Heinz Zak

17. June 2019

For the Tyrolean climbing legend Heinz Zak, the Karwendel is a timeless area in which you can come to yourself. In addition to numerous classics, there are excellent panoramic mountains and areas that are almost untouched. The source of the Isar is a source of strength, the Halleranger an Eldorado for climbers. In this article, climbing legend Heinz talks about his passion for the Karwendel and the peaks of the Seefeld plateau.

The beauty of the Karwendel

Heinz Zak is a legend of the Tyrolean climbing scene. Zak has lived in Scharnitz since 1981 and knows every stone in the plateau around Seefeld and in the Karwendel. The climber and photographer gets enthusiastic when he talks about his “living room”:

“For me, the Karwendel is a space that is simply timeless. It’s still very pristine and one of the few places you can immerse yourself in and leave right away. That’s unique in the Alps, I’d say.”

Away from the crowds, away from the civilization, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In the Karwendel you can – in the shadow of the mountains – come to your senses.

Where it all begins: The source of the river Isar

The river Isar begins its journey in the Hinterautal valley. Gently splashing and shimmering between soft benches covered with moss, three sources form the little river. “The source of the Isar is still something very special for me, although I have been there often. The spring is an origin, and for me, especially in connection with nature, always connected with deep feelings,” says Zak. This place exerts a very special fascination that you can’t escape. Nowadays one would probably call it place of power.

Halleranger: A mountain paradise

The extreme climber has already seen a lot of the world. Among other things, Zak was the second person to climb the “Separate Reality” climbing route in Yosemite National Park free solo. But the Tyrolean also dives into a “Separate Reality” – another reality – in his mountain home, the Karwendel. There are endless possibilities for mountaineering in the Karwendel. Heinz Zak knows that better than anyone else. “Basically, the classics are completely sufficient to try something. Coming through the Hinterautal to Halleranger is like a trip to paradise for me,” Zak enthuses about one of the most beautiful places he has seen in the world.

You can also climb very excellently there. In recent decades, the Halleranger has become a climbing centre in the Karwendel, which offers the best conditions for climbers of all levels. Heinz Zak has made several first ascents there over the past three decades. In recent years, climbing in this area has been promoted by the DAV Schwaben in order to revive the Hallerangerhaus. This has been successful. Today there are “great routes that can be climbed in alpine style in the fourth to sixth degree of difficulty and are perfectly equipped”. The climbing area in Halleranger is only ten minutes away from the cabin Hallerangehaus. The Karwendel is an attractive terrain even for extreme climbers, as Heinz Zak is undoubtedly one of them: “There are alpine multi pitch routes up to the tenth degree of difficulty in the Karwendel.” The highest degree of difficulty is the area in which the normal hiker can no longer imagine that anyone could be able to climb up there. “It’s all there. You can really challenge yourself at any level of difficulty,” the expert knows.

From Hallerangerhaus you can reach, among other things, the Sunntiger Spitze, a fabulous panoramic mountain. The Speckkarspitze is yet another classic within easy reach. Those who like it a little more quaint and quiet than on the relatively popular Speckkarspitze can also climb the Kleiner Lafatscher or the highest mountain of the Karwendel, the Birkkarspitze (2,749 meter/ 9019,02887 feet ). In addition to these and other classic peaks, the Karwendel mountains also have many summits that are rarely climbed. This is partly due to the fact that they are very remote or fragile. Heinz Zak knows them all. “Some of the peaks are really primitive and secluded. You can feel that too and that’s a good thing,” says Zak.

But not only the Karwendel is a charming place. The Seefeld plateau is a paradise for people with an affinity for mountains. “For mountaineers there is a whole series of fantastic panoramic mountains in the immediate vicinity of the plateau,” says Zak and names, for example, the Reither Spitze and the Seefelder Spitze. The latter is a not too demanding mountain, which rewards the hikers with a fabulous view into the Karwendel. The Ahrnspitzen in the Tyrolean Wetterstein mountains are no less panoramic than the peaks mentioned above. The Gehrenspitze, which is ideal for more ambitious hikers, is also a very popular destination, and rightly so. “Especially the ascent from Leutasch through the Puittal is very quiet and natural”, says Zak. Zak also likes to hike the Pleisenspitze. “In connection with a stop at the rustic Pleisenhütte, you can still experience mountaineering as you imagined it in the past. Simply casual”, is the enthusiastic mountaineer from Scharnitz.

You now have the desire to hike in the Karwendel? You can find all information about Heinz’ “paradise” Karwendel here! And have you already heard of the Karwendel Höhenweg trail?  In 6 stages the trail takes you to the most beautiful sides of the Karwendel mountain range.

For all climbers: Climbing areas in the region

Not only the Karwendel, but also the various climbing areas in our region await all climbers – and those who still want to become one. Ambitious climbers, families and beginners can find great routes in all levels of difficulty.

A new climbing paradise: “Sonnenplatten Scharnitz”

There will soon be another new climbing paradise in our region: a new and impressive climbing garden has been built in the recent months in Scharnitz. Heinz Zak was responsible for the creation of the climbing garden “Sonnenplatten Scharnitz”. Numerous routes in difficulty levels between 3 to 7 were newly drilled and renovated. In addition, a new chill area was created with slacklines, tables, benches and a fountain to take a relaxed break from climbing. Many parking spaces and a toilet facility make the climbing area the perfect destination for all climbers!

The new climbing garden “Sonnenplatten” in Scharnitz will officially be opened on Friday, 06th of September. The celebration starts at 10 am. Come by and discover your favourite route!

Further links:

Karwendel Nature Park

Karwendel Höhenweg Trail

Blog entry: Karwendel Höhenweg trail

Source of the Isar

Climbing in the Olympiaregion Seefeld

Fotos: Heinz Zak, Stefan Wolf

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