Right of bold Sonnjoch: Schaufelspitze and Bettlerkarspitze with the connecting ridge
Schaufelspitze and Bettlerkarspitze are connected by a long and high ridge which offers a traverse possibility of both summits. It runs south - north and divides Falzthurntal / Gerntal and the Plumsjoch cirque in the east from Eng valley in the west.
I once red in a guide books that this ridge is only a grade II scramble (in parts) and, being a hopeless traverse monster, I decided at once to do that traverse and to bag Schaufelspitze as an add-on by doing so.
Schaufelspitze as the only goal for a day is not so interesting for a non-climber due to the steep off-trail ascent / descent via northwest ridge but in combination with the traverse to Bettlerkarspitze and a nice Weißbier at Plumsjochhütte the whole undertaking seemed to be more than worthwhile.
I strongly recommend my followers to do the traverse from Schaufelspitze to Bettlerkarspitze. Not only because of the Plumsjochhütte standing as a nice and enticing obstacle near your descent route - too near to ignore it. It is above all a long day and your knees will be thankful not to have a steep and unpleasant off-trail descent from Schaufelspitze in the late afternoon.
Schaufelspitze northwest ridge, the ascent route
The trailhead for the traverse is Hagelhütten near the end of Eng valley.
Directly at Hagelhütten there is a small parking area alongside the road.
If this parking area is complete go on in the direction of Eng Almen. After less than 1 km there is a forest road branching off to the left with signposts for Plumsjoch. This is the parking area for mountain bikers. You can use that trailhead, too.
Ascend to Schaufelspitze
If you start at Hagelhütten follow the forest road across the creek and up to a trail junction with signposts for Plumsjoch. Leave the forest road, cross the creek again on a wood bridge (good bathing possibilities for the afternoon a bit up the creek) and follow the trail up to the forest road (signpost again).
If you start at the Plumsjoch forest road follow that road until you reach the upper trail junction with the above mentioned trail coming up from Hagelhütten.
Leave the forest road at that point, scrambling up the slope of the forest road to reach the lower northwest ridge of Schaufelspitze. Follow the ridge off-trail up through dense wood. Don´t leave the ridge crest. You will find some surveying check marks and soon enough a sort of foot track.
Follow the foot track up to some rocks and to a steep, steep meadow with some sparse trees. The foot track disappears but there are the first cairns. Struggle straight up that meadow part, it is exhausting! You then reach the first dwarf pines.
Within the dwarf pine zone there are some “chutes” which are a manageable bypass for the dense vegetation. Sparse cairns are guiding you through this zone. If you are lucky like me the first time many years ago you find the route without difficulty. It goes first to the right, traverses then to the left and ascends through several dwarf pine “chutes” to another meadow and to some more easy rocks.
If you are unlucky like me the second time, you miss the cairns - that can happen easily enough - and you are nearly lost in vegetation. If I am not very mistaken our American friends call that bushwacking. That´ s what it is ! You will be astonished what swear words can leave your mouth.
Above the dense dwarf pines climb up the steep meadow and rock slope to a first culmination point of the northwest ridge with a huge cairn on its top. Go straight up to it, don´t traverse to the right, that part is even steeper.
From the culmination point just simply follow the ridge over steep meadows to the next easy rocks. Traverse to the right, then back to the left, scrambling up to a sharp ridge crest with some spires. Follow that ridge crest in some ups and downs to the col in front of the summit block of Schaufelspitze.
Schaufelspitze ascent route: northwest ridge
Rock scramble on the ridge near Schaufelspitze
View on the connecting ridge to Bettlerkarspitze
The best thing to do is: climb up the northwest ridge of the summit block over easy but bad rock to Schaufelspitze summit and return then to that col. Traverse Schaufelspitze summit block on its north side on a feeble foot track (some cairns) to a first sharp notch in the connecting ridge between Schaufelspitze and Bettlerkarspitze.
The second best thing to do is scrambling down the loose and bad rocks on the north ridge of Schaufelspitze to the above mentioned notch. I did that the first time, it is not advisable (grade II in parts, bad, bad rock!!).
Traverse to Bettlerkarspitze
At the notch starts a nice climb on the now very exposed connecting ridge (grade I - II) up to a first culmination point of that ridge.
Follow the ridge crest which drops down again or bypass these steep rocks on the west side in easier but loose rocks to a more or less level part of the ridge. At a second culmination point traverse first to the right (scree filled ledges) to a subridge; then gain the main ridge again. The ridge now ascends slowly to a wicked looking rockface below a secondary summit of Bettlerkarspitze.
At the beginning of that wicked looking rockface traverse to the right and start scrambling up the rockface in the direction of a huge cairn some 40 m above you. The rock is o.k. and not difficult to climb (grade I) but littered with scree. Turn left to the main ridge again, traverse the secondary summit, descend some meters and ascend the summit of Bettlerkarspitze, using the ridge crest rocks or the slopes west of the ridge.
View of the connecting ridge back to Schaufelspitze
Wicked looking rockface below Bettlerkarspitze
The connecting ridge as seen from near Bettlerkarspitze
Descend from Bettlerkarspitze
Follow the exposed north ridge to the crux of Bettlerkarspitze normal route: the 3 m overhang, now secured with a fixed rope. After the little overhang descend to the left and traverse the steep west walls of Bettlerkarspitze on several scree filled ledges, descending steeply from those ledges above to those below. There are foot tracks and some washed out red dots as markings.
After a last traverse you reach the north ridge again below the hiking summit of Bettlerkarspitze.
Follow the white - red - white marked trail down to Plumsjoch and Plumsjochhütte. Use the forest road from Plumsjochhütte and - if you started at Hagelhütten - the foot trail down to the trailhead.
Alternatively follow the foot trail from Plumsjochhütte (signposts) down to Plumsalm where there is the trail junction with the forest road.
Gear & Mountain Condition
Schaufelspitze ascent route: northwest ridge
The traverse is a summer and autumn tour. The ascent to Schaufelspitze is an off-trail scramble, the traverse from or to Bettlerkarspitze requires climbing abilities up to grade II. The grade III overhang is now secured with a fixed rope.
Be aware that the rock around the summit of Schaufelspitze is bad and loose and that belaying on the northwest ridge or on the connecting ridge to Bettlerkarspitze is not possible everywhere.
If you easily master UIAA grade II you need no rope for the traverse.
The weather should be stable for the traverse. Eng valley and the surrounding mountains are a trap for thunderstorms, so be careful.
Red Tape & Accomodation
Flowers on the top of Bettlerkarspitze
Bettlerkarspitze and Schaufelspitze are part of the “Alpenpark Karwendel”, an important and strictly protected national park. There is no entrance fee for the park but many regulations to follow.
There is a National Park Information Center at Hinterriß. Information panels, starting at the parking area of Engalmen, show some interesting features of the Alpenpark Karwendel.
Camping is not allowed within Alpenpark Karwendel.
Motorhomes and caravans are tolerated at the parking area of Engalmen.