Upper part of Wasserfallkarspitze south ascent
Driving from Reutte to Arlberg you will recognise a huge mountain ridge on the north side of Lechtal valley, separating Lechtal from Hinterhornbachtal valley: the Hornbach ridge
This is the southernmost part of Allgäu Alps
, hosting some of the highest and loneliest summits of the whole Allgäu ranges. This ridge starts at its eastern end with the sentinel - like Klimmspitze
, a long but easy hike from Lechtal valleyground. To the west there are Schwellenspitze
. Both summits are rarely visited. In the case of Wasserfallkarspitze this is due to steep off-trail ascents from south or north and due to bad rock quality. This fact makes this summit an interesting target for the seekers of lonely limestone alps summits. There is no summit cross, no summit register on the highest point of this mountain, there is only tranquillity, peace and - in case if good weather - incredible views.
One of the first known ascents of Wasserfallkarspitze was done by Hermann von Barth
. He was up to Klimmspitze
on that day and decided that this was not sufficient enough for his restless spirit and boots. He therefore descended into Großkar and conquered Wasserfallkarspitze on the todays normal route.
The normal route to Schwellenspitze, the inaccessible looking neighbour of Wasserfallkarspitze starts near its summit. Therefore Wasserfallkarspitze and Schwellenspitze are often climbed together. But whereas Wasserfallkarspitze never exceeds UIAA grade I (in parts) Schwellenspitze has bad, bad rock, a rather complicated route, steep traverses and some parts of UIAA grade II / III climbing in store.
Summit view to the east
Summit view to the north
Summit view to the west
You can combine more easily Wasserfallkarspitze with Klimmspitze like the H. von Barth. That is about 2100 meters of altitude difference and a long and exhausting day for you (southern ascents, remind!!).
Wasserfallkarspitze can be combined, too, with a minor summit west of the main peak: “Elfer
” (the “eleven”). Elfer is a wicked looking rock tower which is accessible from the col west of Wasserfallkarspitze (off-trail-descend from the summit) via some narrow and scree - filled ledges. There is a “Zwölfer” (the “twelve”), too, thus making a little mountain sun dial for those living in the Hornbach valley.
Whatever you might do in this part of Allgäu Alps, whether you climb Wasserfallkarspitze exclusively or do some traverses or combinations, you will not meet many followers. This is what our summit has in common with nearly all other main summits of Hornbach range: Urbeleskarspitze, Gliegerkarspitze, Wolleckleskarspitze, Noppenspitze, Kreuzkarspitze
..........: off-trail adventures, bad, loose rock, scree, talus, loneliness, silence, a little climbing, sweat, long ascents from the valley ground, awesome views as a major reward and the rather astonished looks of the one who asked you about your last mountain adventure: “where the hell is Wasserfallkarspitze .................”
Towering Klimmspitze as seen from Wasserfallkarspitze ascent
The main trailheads for Wasserfallkarspitze are
in the Hornbach valley and
near Elmen in the Lechtal valley.
You reach Lechtal valley
Follow Lechtal valley road number 198
from Reutte or from Lech / Warth until you reach Elmen.
West of Elmen, about 200 m east of the road junction with Hahntennjoch road a road branches off to the north to Klimm, a very little village consisting of four or five houses (no signposts, nice alley). The trailhead with a parking area is in front of the bridge across river Lech.
The village of Hinterhornbach
can be reached directly from Lechtal valley road by leaving the road at Martinau
in the direction to Vorderhornbach. At Vorderhornbach
follow the signposts to Hinterhornbach. The trailhead is at the western end of the little village: go on the road by passing the church and use the first road which branches off to the left and immediately crosses Hornbach creek on a bridge. Behind the bridge is the parking area (2009: free parking).
Main Routes Overview
All routes to Wasserfallkarspitze are at least in parts off-trail routes.
The easiest and most popular route is the Großkar route
. The two other routes are for the “specialist”, I do not recommend them. Even for me as a traverse monster the combination Wasserfallkar route and Großkar route was not an option. I went up and down only Großkar route.
Großkar route (normal route)
The trailhead is at the bridge over river Lech with a parking area. Cross the river and turn left to reach the little village of Klimm
. Pass between two houses (old withered signposts) and ascend a narrow trail, crossing a forest road after 5 minutes. Ascend on the trail until you reach Großkar
. Leave the trail where it starts to ascend the west slopes of Klimmspitze and traverse Großkar off-trail
in the direction of the lowest point of the Wasserfallkarspitze south ridge.
Climb the scree and talus slope until you reach a shallow chute wich leads up to the upper slopes and the ridge crest at the lowest point of the ridge. Follow the ridge up over scree and talus until you reach the bottom of the summit block rocks.
There are two alternatives:
1. climb up to the eastern subsummit of Wasserfallkarspitze. Traverse this subsummit first on the north side (UIAA grade I, exposed) then on the south side and climb up to the notch between the subsummit and the main summit. You reach this notch, too, by traversing the subsummit rocks on the south side and by fighting yourself up to the above mentioned notch.
At the notch traverse a ledge on the north side and climb back to the ridge crest of the summits east ridge where it seems to be easy (UIAA grade I, loose rock and scree). Follow the ridge crest up to the highest poibt of the mountain.
2. Traverse the scree field on the south side of the summit block in western direction until you reach scree littered easy rocks. Climb these rocks in northwestern direction until you reach a little scree field on the west side of the summit. Ascend this scree field to the summit (some foot tracks) or climb up the easy upper west ridge to reach the top of Wasserfallkarspitze.
Elmen / Klimm, Großkar and south ridge - parts of Großkar route
UIAA grade I - terrain at the summit block Lonely beauty in the scree fields below the summit block
Start at Häselgehr
and follow trail number 434
into Haglertal valley. Below Hagle hunters cabin at about 1280 m follow an unmarked hunters trail to the right and up to Gliegerle hunters cabin
. At the cabin an unmarked trail starts to ascend to Wasserfallkar
, passes by the eponymous waterfall and tends to disappear. Above the waterfall look out for the best off - trail route to your right up to the lowest point of the south ridge of Wasserfallkarspitze. These are steep rocky meadow slopes.
At that lowest point of the south ridge follow the Großkar route
Summit block South ridge, where Großkar route and Wasserfallkar route meet; the ski route uses the left cirque up to the summit block Dwarf pine zone of the Großkar route
Unusual route (UIAA grade I with parts II) for frail rock lovers:
traverse Sulzbach creek
(south of Hornbach creek) and follow an unmarked hunters trail east of Sulztal to a hunters cabin. Trurn east and ascend to Faulholzer Kar
/ Deiserbach (or Doserbach) creek. At the eastern end of Faulholzer Kar follow right of the huge chute coming down from the connecting ridge Schwellenspitze - Wasserfallkarspitze up to a bifurcation of the chute. Follow the left chute up to the connecting ridge.
From there Schwellenspitze
can be summited more or less easily.
Turn right, descend to the lowest point of the connecting ridge, traverse some ledges on the north side and ascend steeply up to point 2408 m
Descend on the south side until you can more or less easily traverse on steep scree fields and rock and meadow ledges to the south ridge
of Wasserfallkarspitze. Ascend the summit as described above.
Rather an ascent than a descent route!
Southern panorama below the summit block
The ski route follows the Wasserfallkar route
into Wasserfallkar and goes straight up the steep Wasserfallkar through chutes and steep slopes to the summit block.
Red Tape & Accommodation
Lechtal peaks as seen from Großkar
There are - as far as I know - no special restrictions or regulations in this area.
In Lechtal valley there are all sorts of accommodation: Hotels, Inns, private Bed & Breakfast and Camping areas.
For general information please refer to: Lechtal tourist page
More detailed informations about accommodations in the nearest villages can be found on the homepages of
There are no mountain huts (alpine club or private huts) around Wasserfallkarspitze.
Gear & Mountain Condition
Wasserfallkarspitze as seen from Großkar
Wasserfallkarspitze can be climbed in late spring and through summer and autumn until the first heavy snowfall arrives. You need hiking gear and good boots. The summit rock scramble needs no belaying. I did not see any bolts for rapelling or belaying on the summit routes.
The upper third of the southern routes are off trail. The summit block requires on its southwestern alternative route easy rock scramble in loose rocks with scree and talus, on the southeastern alternative route short climbing of UIAA grade I to I+ / II- in bad rock with, too, much scree.
You absolutely should know how to handle this ground.
A late spring / early summer ascent on the southern Großkar route may facilitate things to get up the steep scree and talus field below south ridge. Scree or snow - sliding down that scree field is possible.
The northern ascent is absolutely not recommended, it has unmarked narrow paths and steep and frail northern rockfaces for about 600 m of altitude difference. The traverse Schwellenspitze - Wasserfallkarspitze, which is used by this route, is complicated, exposed, full of frail rock and scree ledges and not easy (UIAA grade II).
Wasserfallkarspitze is seldomly done as ski tour. The southern exposition and the steep slopes of Wasserfallkar will limit the ski ascent possibilities. It is, in my opinion, a ski tour for the more experienced.
You need full ski tour and avalanche gear for that ascent.
Check the Tirol avalanche bulletin here
Maps & Guide Book
Wasserfallkarspitze (left) as seen from Wannenspitze ascent
scale 1 : 25.000, number 2/2
Allgäu - Lechtaler Alpen, östliches Blatt
Landesamt für Vermessung und Geoinformation
Scale 1 : 50.000, Allgäuer Alpen
Number UKL 8, 2005
Allgäuer Alpen und Ammergauer Alpen, alpin
Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, 2008