The Watzmann has long fascinated mountain climbers from all over the world. But you don’t necessarily need to climb to its peak at 2,713 metres to enjoy it, as the view of the massif from the valley is extremely impressive.
The extraordinary shape of the Watzmann is a particular reason for its fame. Its three main summits, Hocheck (2,651 metres), Mittelspitze (2,713 metres) and Südspitze (2,712 metres) form the main crest of the mountain massif, and are connected by a ridge. Crossing the Watzmann – so hiking across the three peaks – is one of the classic mountain tours in the Alps.
The mountain’s unmistakable shape gave rise to the Watzmann legend in the state of Berchtesgaden: The authoritarian, wicked King Watze tyrannised his people and, as a punishment for his disgraceful deeds, God turned him and his family to stone.
So today many people refer to the peaks as Watzmann, Watzmannfrau (Watzmann’s wife) and the Watzmannkinder (Watzmann’s children). Although the legend tells us there were seven children, only five can be identified as peaks.
At 2,307 metres, the Watzmannfrau, also referred to as the Kleiner Watzmann (small Watzmann), forms the final part of the massif to the east.
The Watzmann-Ostwand (Watzmann east face) has certainly contributed to the Watzmann myth as the Berchtesgaden “mountain of destiny”, which, behind St. Bartholomä (St Bartholomew’s Church) on Königssee lake reaches a height of more than 1,800 metres to the summit.
The long route and difficult navigation on the rock in poor weather have claimed many lives on the east face.
But don’t worry – there are alternative routes available to non-expert hikers on the Watzmann. The tour follows demanding but good routes to the Watzmannhaus mountain hut, and can be completed in around four hours in good conditions. It’s also possible to stay overnight in the Watzmannhaus mountain hut, resting before another day of climbing ahead.
Tip: Anyone planning a day trip to the state of Berchtesgaden should rise early, as the trip from Munich takes around two hours.