Luis on Tour: Oberstdorf (Part I)
This is the first part of our new column "Luis on Tour", including a travel report to the ski flying hill and Karatsbichl at Oberstdorf.
Luis on tour: A ski jumping hill fan on the roadBy Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch
Oberstdorf (Part I): The Heini-Klopfer-Skiflugschanze and Karatsbichl hill
On the 20th August, we arrived at Oberstdorf in Allgäu at 5 p.m., one hour later, as we planned. The most southern market town “rests” on 845 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains of a height above 2000 meters. Our cottage, called “Birgsau”, stands in the Stillachtal, like the Heini-Klopfer-Skiflugschanze, our first hill destination.
We drove to Oberstdorf by B19, which ends in the Kleinwalsertal (Austria). The Kleinwalsertal is administrated by the German duty. We had to drive to the direction of the “Fellhornbahn”, which is nearly at the end of the valley and belongs to Faistenoy, a very small village. The Stillachtal has a length of 12 km. If you are out of it, you are nearly in the centre of Oberstdorf. The street is very lithe and has a speed limit of 70 kilometres. My father, who is driving, damps the speed a little bit, because we want to look around.
The first cottages appear after the first turn, which detours into the valley. After that, a short part with wood follows then some farms. On the right side of the street, a brown sign with “Café Karatsbichl” occurs. The hill appears later on, too, but without plastic mattings, as I thought. As of the next kilometre, only wood follows. In addition to that, the street has more turns than before. After 4 kilometres, the first traffic sign appears. As things turned out, the street in left direction is the last one, on which you can drive out of the valley. Shortly after that, a yellow placard stands on the right side of the street. It tells the tourists, to ski in winter to “Söllereckbahn” with the help of the “Höllwieslift”, a ski lift.
Söllereck is a perfect ski area for families. 13 slope kilometres are divided on 5 ski lifts. The upper terminus is on 1358 meters, the lower on 1013 metres. Snow guarantee between middle of December and middle end of February. Except for the cabin car, the other lifts are ski lifts. The “Höllwieslift” is the longest in Germany. A ski school for children is also available. In the area of the mountain, everywhere are hiking trails, which all need a time of 3 hours and more.
From Kornau, the way is not very long to Riezlern. Within reach is the Söllereck by B19 direction to Kleinwalsertal. There is also a whole-year-toboggan run, which is very nice, too. You can drink and eat in restaurants with Bavarian food.
After passing the last street, the valley starts. Surrounded by trees, the cross-country-stadium of the Nordic-Ski-world-championships 2005 “Ried” appears. On one of the bridges hangs a placard with the label “Finale der FIS Team Tour 2012”. But although I know, that the ski flying hill is near to the cross-country-stadium, I don’t see it, because so many trees stand in front of it. The avenue to the hill is possible with a road. Families, who are not interested in the hill, can drive to Freibergsee, which is very beautiful surrounded by wood and has clear water, like crystals. From there, you also have a nice view on the “Leaning Tower of Oberstdorf”.
We continue driving on the valley street. The Stillach flows parallel to the street, but in the other direction. It needs no long time, until the “Fellhornbahn” appears.
The ski area at Fellhorn:
Near to the lower terminus on 918m are 1000 parking spots. The carriage of the skiers proceeds with an escalator. You entrain the “Fellhornbahn I”, which has a capacity of 100 persons. There are two of it. It ends at the middle terminus on 1780 metres. Then, you have to walk by foot to the second, for driving up to the upper terminus on 1967 metres. The top of the mountain with the cross on the summit of the mountain is a little bit higher, on 2037 metres. There is a small museum in the upper terminus, which presents the beautiful fauna and flora on the Fellhorn. The ski area is a two-countries-area, because it has connections to the Kanzelwand in Austria. So it has two valley slopes. 24 slope kilometres are available. The season starts already in the middle of November and is one of first areas in the Alps, but it is not on a glacer. The end of the season is in the end of April, which is very late for a area with such metres in height. For managing the high number of visitors, the “Fellhornbahn II”, 8-person-cabin-car was built a couple of years ago. In summer it is out of order. Very important for hiking and skiing is food and drinking.
In Faistenoy, you have many possibilities for doing that. Next to the parking area, there is a restaurant. Après-Ski is possible at the end of the valley slope in a pavilion. But the best possibility is the “Gaststätte Faistenoy”. It is on the right side of the pavilion. The restaurant has a typical Bavarian style and a lot of timber. Two times in a week, there is live-music (folk music from Bavaria, Austria, or Switzerland). All dishes are self-made and the service is very friendly and you have only to wait a couple of minutes for your dish. The desserts are very yummy, too.
Advisable: Pork steak with home-made “Spaetzle” and chanterelles!
Heini-Klopfer-Skiflugschanze“ (K185 / HS 215):
By walking, we need 1 hour and 30 minutes until we arrive at the ski flying hill. The hiking trial strays parallel to the valley street, beside farms, small hotels and snack-bars. In Faistenoy, you have to change the street side, the path continues in the wood. From that point, it is only half an hour to the ski flying hill.
On the first look, the stadium seems very small. At first, you get welcomed by an info plate with all details about the hill. Beside that stands the “Flugschanzenmännle”, an over-dimensional figure. Behind that, hangs a video-screen on a house for showing the results during the competitions. Right next to it, there is “Sepp Weiler’s Flugschanzenstube”. The lift, which stars some metres behind the restaurant, is green, old and not very fast. For the first time in my life, I experience, that I am still a child, so I do not have to pay the full price.
Tip: Who makes holidays in Oberstdorf, should buy the “Allgäu-Walser-Card”! You can economize over 30 %!
But only since the moment, you stand at the lift, you see the stands and how deep the outrun begins. A sign hangs at the slope, which tells about the hill record. The lift needs about 5 minutes to arrive at the upper terminus next to the jump-off. There hangs an over-dimensional Oberstdorf-sign. Now, the size of the hill and the architectonic performance is getting clear. The inrun is very impressive.
You walk to the tower, who is shady. Only some stairs are need, for getting to the elevator. We have to wait a couple of minutes, ‘til the other visitors come out of it. Now, we pass the turnstile and a small door and then we are in the small elevator with a capacity of 11 persons. It drives very fast, but not calm in 3 minutes up to the floor.
On the floor is a figure wearing ski jumping clothes and the windows make a view around the wood and the alms possible. After a couple of stairs, you are on the top. At competitions, the officials stand there, the jumpers take the way before to the start. From that point, you have a fantastic 360-degrees-view. But only if the sun is shining – naturally. In front you see some massive mountains with wood, on the left side of them Oberstdorf. 90 degrees left hand side, the Freibergsee seems as a diamond. And one more turn to the left side, there is the “Fellhornbahn”. But for a ski jumping hill fan, like me, the view down the inrun is most concisesly. That, what seems on TV so small, is now big and gigantic. On the left side of the inrun stand the lights, which are very important in the short days in February. Also the machine for the snow slope in the inrun is standing up here. The metal is the underground for the snow in winter. The coaches and jugdes tower can be seen very well.
The only fixed stand on the right side is very small. And the only things, you can see of the slope are the highest point of the mountain and the beginning of the small fences on the left and on the right. Shortly behind that, so it seems the outrun ends, which is in the same way like in Innsbruck. On the way back to the lift, we stop at the jump for taking some pictures up of the inrun. The tower of the coaches is not available, so we drive back with the lift.
Down, we make a break at the “Flugschanzenstube”. We drink some cold (very important) soft drinks and eat cake.
Because, we only saw the inrun, now, we walk behind the main stands, so that we have perfect view up to the hill. I run down the outrun, so that I can imagine, how deep it is and how steep the slope is.
Now, it is 2 p.m. So we have to cancel our plan to walk to Oberstdorf, because the way is too long. At first, we plan to walk to “Ziegelbachhütte” near to the “Höllwieslift”, but I remind the others, that the way to Karatsbichl is not much longer. After another hour and 30 minutes hiking on the path between wood and Stillach, we arrived at the farms near to Karatsbichl.
Karatsbichl-Schanze (K26):The hill is on an ex-ski-slope, surrounded by farms. The Lift was built in the early 1950’s and deleted in 1973. On the left side of the hill is a timber judges-tower. The hill was a matting hill between 2003 and 2008. At the place, where the mattings were, are nowadays small grass bushes, which look like straw. A fence beside the hill protects it of the sheep, which could destroy the slope or the hill itself. The view up the hill is quite interesting, because it is a very elegant figure. But the timber-inrun is very ailing. Only at the jump-off are some pieces of the old mattings. The underground for the snow at the start are old wheels. I sit down for a moment on the beam and take some pictures. The view down here is not bad. Now, I can better imagine, how it feels, if you jump here at the carnival-competitions. In some winters, up to 2 metres of snow can lie here. Then, we walk to the Café, which is very popular at the hikers in summer nowadays and skiers in winter in earlier days. In the menu are some pictures of the ski lift. We order some self-made cake, ice cream and, because of the temperature and the physical effort. So the day ends with wonderful experiences. For the way back home, we take the bus.
In the end, the do's and dont's for Oberstdorf:
5 things you shouldn't do in Oberstdorf:
- Don’t try to climb up the street at the Fellhorn with your bike!
- Don’t eat at “Original Südtiroler Sonnenkeller”! A celler can not be sunny. It does not make sense! There is only German “Schlager”-music and nobody there is from South Tyrol!
- Don’t try to participate spontaneously at a ski jumping course! In most cases, there are not enough participants!
- Don’t try to sleep in Stillachtal with opened windows! There are so many cows with bells!
- Don’t wear shorts, if you go into the Breitachklamm! You will be cold!
5 things you should do in Oberstdorf:
- Visit Heini-Klopfer-Schanze!
- Visit Erdinger-Arena! In summer, the Austrian athletes train there! I met Florian Liegl! I was in the lift together with Martin Koch and Stefan Thurnbichler! Insider: If you arrive at the opening at 10.00 a.m. and recognize, a team has a hill for 2 hours: You can see 6 jumps.
- Ride the “Fellhornbahn”!
- Visit the ski museum in the Erdinger-Arena!
- Visit the Breitachklamm!
Ski Jumps:Oberstdorf (Skiflugschanze)