Kreuzjoch is a three peaked mountain made of quite fragile rock. Compared to its neighbours Loreakopf (2471m/8107ft) and Galtbergspitze (2391m/7844ft) the appearance of Kreuzjoch isn' t very spectacular from far away. On a second look the summit impresses by its about 200m/650ft high north face, its steep slopes to the south and a sharp summit ridge connecting the east and central summit. Another pro for this mountain is its lonelyness since you have to hike quite a while to reach it (doesn' t matter from which side).
For geologists the mountain is very interresting, because it played an important role on the area as we know it today. Long ago a huge part of the mountain broke away in an enormous landslide, which formed the Fernpass as we know it today. Read on in the section Creation of Fernpass.
Fernpass has always been an imprtant trade route since the romans established the first road there. Even today it is one of the most frequently traveled passes of the alps. Compared to the silence a few hundred meters above this is a harsh contrast and if you descent to Fernpass you will be quite shocked. I did this and had to wait for the bus to Ehrwald for about half an hour and couldn' t belive those thousands of cars driving past me...
But as long as you are far enough above the pass and cannot hear the noise of the traffic anymore a splendid scenery welcomes you with great views into the rocky walls of Zugspitze and Mieming Range. Looking to the south you catch the northern parts of Öztal Alps and Stubai Alps. Loreahut makes the area complete and I think a stay there must be exceptionally beautiful.
Creation Of Fernpass
The Fernpass was an important trade route built by the romans (called Via Claudia Augusta). Even today it is an important route from north to south. But in early days the Fernpass didn' t exist and the area was a valley as any other. But a huge landslide from Kreuzjoch formed the pass as we know it today. This landslide had a volume of several cubickilometers and is of the biggest landslides ever happend in the eastern alps. But what caused this massive landslide?
A possible cause could have been melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age about 12000 years ago. The theory says that the mountain was quite fragile and as the glaciers melted it simply collapsed. After the rocks came to a halt in the former valley they piled up 300-400m. At http://www.8ung.at/geologie/gfernp.htm you find several nice images which illustrate the landslide.
This theory sounds quite good, but latest analyses show that the landslide happened about 4150 years ago. Measurements of concentrations of nuclear isotopes produced that value. Therefore melting glaciers cannot be the reason for this landslide. Probably we will never know what finally caused it but we know that the valley was populated by that time. It is not hard to image how shocking this event must have been for those people.
Today the Fernpass is a beautiful pass with several nice lakes and beautiful views towards Zugspitze and Sonnenspitze. It is a pitty that there is so much traffic...
Maps And Routes Overview
- Alpenvereinskarte 4/1 Wetterstein- und Mieminger Gebirge, West (1:25 000)
Detailed map of the area around Fernpass. The map can be bought at http://www.alpenverein.or.at/karten/Shop/Nordalpen_West/04_1.shtml?navid=4 but the hole page/shop is in german only.
- KOMPASS #24 - Lechtaler Alpen-Hornbachkette
Overview map of the hole Lechtal Alps with all imprtant hiking routes. The map is available at http://www.kompass.at/produkte/alle_produkte/product-detail/wk-24-lechtaler-alpen-hornbachkette.
- Östliches Kreuzjoch from Fernpass
Starting at Fernpass a trail leads into the Kälbertal and up to Galtberghütte (1790m/5872ft). From there a trail turns south towards the mighty north face. After traversing the east side the summit gets close. You may get to Galtberghütte from Bichlbach/Bergwang via Bichlbacher Jöchle as well which is a beautiful trip.
- Östliches Kreuzjoch from Fernstein via Loreahut
Trail #601 starts at Fernstein a few hundred meters below Fernpass and leads up the steep slope to Loreahut. Shortly before or at the hut trails lead to the north towards the south slopes of Kreuzjoch. After reaching the sharp summit ridge you have an easy but quite exposed scramble to the east summit.
- Mittleres Kreuzjoch from Loreahut
You simply have to follow the trail to Östliches Kreuzjoch and turn left (north-west) under the steep slope leading towards the summit ridge. From there no trail is marked and you have to find your way through this steep slope leading up to the summit.
- Mittleres Kreuzjoch from Östliches Kreuzjoch
Just never leave the ridge and continue towards the summit (UIAA II in some places).
If you start at Bichlbach and traverse Kreuzjoch towards Loreahut and down to Fernstein you have a beautiful day trip with great views. Additionally you have the option to ascent Roter Stein (2366m/7762ft) during your approach to Kreuzjoch after passing Bichlbacher Jöchle.
Two of the trailheads to Kreuzjoch are located at the Fernpass road 179 connecting Ehrwald and Nassereith. The long approach via Bichlbacher Jöchle starts at Bichlbach. All three trailheads are well reachable by car and public transportation.
By carIf you come from the south you need to get to the city of Nassereith first. This is easy since Nassereith has a connetion to Imst (road 189) and from there you have access to highway A12 (Inntal highway). Via this highway you reach Italy and Germany via Innsbruck or Italy and Switzerland via Landeck. From Nassereith road 179 lead up the Fernpass and to the trailheads. Following the road you reach Bichlbach after a few kilometers.
From the north you have access to road 179 either from Garmisch-Partenkirchen via Ehrwald or directly from Reutte. From both cities you have good road connections into Germany.
By train/busThe trailhead at Bichlbach is easily reached by using the Ausserfernbahn connecting Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Reutte. From Garmisch-Partenkirchen you have access to the german railroads. The trailheads at Fernpass are a bit more complicated since you have to take a bus which drives quite seldomly (but often enough). The bus line connects Reutte via Ehrwald and Fernpass with Nassereith. A ride from Fernpass to Ehrwald costs 2 Euros (July 2008).
For more information about austrian or german schedules of trains and busses visit www.oebb.at (austrian trains/busses) or www.bahn.de (german trains/busses).
- www.wetter.at [Nassereith]
Long term, but sometimes inaccurate weather forecast for the city of Nassereith at the bottom of Fernpass.
Not as detailed as the link above, but quite accurate forecasts.
- OEAV weather forecast
Weather forecast especially for mountaineering porpuses. Unfortunately this page is available in german only.
- Avalanche report (Tyrol/Austria)
As noted before, this german internet page offers the current avalanche report for Tyrol.
Webcam at about 1700m within the ski area Lermoos/Grubigstein not far from Kreuzjoch.
When To Climb
The best time to ascent Kreuzjoch is summer or autumn. Make sure you hit a day with good view to enjoy the panorma. During the winter months Kreuzjoch isn' t climbed because of the steep slopes which are too dangerous to walk into.
|Kreuzjoch is not part of any nature reservation area, so feel free to pitch a tent. Another option to stay at the mountain is Loreahut (2050m/6725ft) of the DAV. The hut is open from Juni to September but you have to bring your own food because it is a self-supplier hut. If you want to stay at the hut please contact the DAV (address below).|
There are no fees, permits or seasonal closures.
Parking at the trailhead at Fernstein or Fernpass is next to impossible since everyone makes a stop there to enjoy the views or to take a rest. There are several parking lots at Ehrwald. I would recommend to park there and to use public transportation to and from the trailhead.