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.
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...
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.
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.