Though completely belonging to Austria, Hochkönig (translated "high king") is geographical a part of the alps of Berchtesgaden (Berchtesgaden is a wellknown centrum for mountaineers in Germany). With an elevation of 2.941m Hochkönig is indeed the highest mountain of the Berchtesgaden alps. He is one of seven highest peaks of the northern limestone alps (also called northern east alps). It is connected with the Steinernes Meer, the most expansive mountain-range of the alps of Berchtesgaden, by the notch “Torscharte” in the north-west. From Hagengebirge it is separated by the valley called Blühnbachtal in the north, that leads down to the village of Werfen. To the east of the mountains some ridges strech out. Of those the Mandlwand is an Eldorado for sport climbers.
Various sources state the altitude of the highest point, bearing the same name as the whole mountain-region, between 2.938 and 2.946 m. Hochkönig was early ascended by farmers and hunters. The first tourist reaching the summit was Thurwieser, 1826.
The summit is crowned by a hut (»Matrashaus
«), one of the highest lodgings in the eastern alps.
To the north of the summit, the glacier of the »Übergossene Alm« (can be translated as »poured alp«) extends 4 km from the Hochseiler (2.793 m) in the west to the Bratschenkopf (2.895) m in the east. The length of the glacier from north to south does not exceed 500 to 1.000 m. The snow-field is plain without forming a distinct tongue. So crevasses are seldom found. Mountaineers are normally crossing it without belaying. The glacier diminished from about 550 ha (1 ha =10.000 sqare-meters) in 1888 to 150 ha in 1980 and has lost much more substance in the last twenty years. So some day not far away from now it will be completely gone.
Together with the main summit, Lammkopf, 2.844 m, and Kummetstein, 2.875 m, delimit the glacier in the south. In the east Torsäule, 2.587 m, towers above the upper coombe of »Ochsenkar«.
Through Ochsenkar the normal route (easy) leads up to the glacier and further on to the summit. From Arthurhaus (1.502 m, can be reached by car from Mühlbach) in the south beneath the Mandlwand it takes about 5 hours to reach the summit.
Other popular routes are from Dienten via Erichhut
or Birgkarhut in the south, from Hinterthal via Bertgenhut or via Torscharte in the west, Ostpreussenhut in the north-east or from Eckberthut in the end of Blühnbachtal. Of great beauty is passing the glacier from east to west (stay overnight on top) and crossing over the Torscharte into Steinernes Meer (to Riemanhut oder Fundenseehut/Germany, about 11 hours from Matrashaus).
From Erichhut leads a long and difficult klettersteig (via-ferrata, iron way) called "Königsjodler
" via Teufelshörner, Kummetstein and Hoher Kopf, from where Matrashaus can be reached in less than half an hour. More infos under www.via-ferrata.de
At Mitterberg south of the Mandlwand, above Mühlbach, ancient copper-mines have been found. This allowed the cultural golden seasons of the “salt-cities” Hallstadt and Dürrnberg in pre-Christian times. Today the ore mines are drained.
From Salzburg in the north going south by train (timetable query, Austrian railways
) or highway to Werfen. Mühlbach, Dienten
can be reached from Bischofshofen, the convenient center south of Werfen, over small and narrow streets. Some cards are available under the Matrashaus-Webpage
No permits required. Lodgings usually opened from june to september/october (usual fee).
When To Climb
Best time for climbing: july, august, september.
The development of the mountain range with huts is pretty good (more infos at OeAV (Alpine Club of Austria)
- Ostpreussenhut, 1.625 m
on Rettenbachalm, Alpenverein section Königsberg, 3.5 hours from Werfen,
phone 0043 - 6468 - 7146
- Arthurhaus, 1.502 m
on Mitterberg at the end of the Mandlwandstreet. Comfortable inn.
phone 0043 - 6467 - 7202
- Mitterfeldalm, 1.670 m
half an hour from Arthurhaus, from here via normal route through Ochsenkar onto top of Hochkönig in about 4-5 hours.
phone 0043 - 664 - 2528643
- Erichhut, 1.545 m
South-West of Taghaube, near Schönbergalpe, Alpenverein section Lend-Dienten, half an hour from Birgkarhut
phone 0043 - 664 - 2643553
- Matrashaus, 2.941 m
on top of the highest point, announce under 0043 - 6467 - 7566 (valley: 0043 - 8652 - 61430)
- Birgkarhut, 1.375 m
at the street Mühlbach – Dienten, 2 hours from Mühlbach
- Bertgenhut, 1.843 m
no attendance, in the coombe Schneekar beneath Hochseiler and Lammkopf, 2 h from Hinterthal.
- Eckberthut, 1144m, OeAV Salzburg
opened 15.05. - 31.10, no attendance, in upper Blühnbachtal, 4h from Tenneck / Werfen
phone 0043 - 6235 - 7302 for key
on top of the mountain under 0043 - 6467 - 7566 (if no response call 0043 - 8652 - 61430).
Guides and Maps
There are some guides (in german language) about the mountain-range of Hochkönig:
- Albert Precht, »Hochkönig«, guide of alpine clubs DAV and OeAV
Bergverlag Rother, Munich
1st edition 1989
384 sides, 106 s/w-pictures, 94 drawing and topos, 11 x 15 cm
- Sepp Brandl, »Rund um den Hochkönig«, guide for hiking
Bergverlag Rother, Munich
2nd edition 1999
144 sides, 73 color-pictures
51 little cards 1:50.000, two survey-cards 1:250.000 and 1:600.000.
11,5 x 16,5 cm
A detailed map is the
- Alpenvereinskarte (map of alpine club DAV) 10/2 Hochkönig/Hagengebirge,
with markings and ski-routes,
1:25.000, edition 2001, with UTM-grid
reference number 1107002
can be ordered under Webpage of DAV
- Klettersteig Königsjodler Hochkönig
Via-Ferrata.de - Klettersteigportal - Over 100 fixed rope routes. Moreover detailed information over climbing, alps, hiking and other outdoor activities.