Hählekopf im Hintergrund der Widderstein | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Chris Lemke

21 Feb. 2018 · Winter Activities
Chris Lemke

Ski Touring on the Hählekopf in Kleinwalsertal

A ski tour with the splitboard from the Schwarzwasserhütte to the Hählkopf.

This mountain has beckoned us for a while now. The 2,058-metre high Hählekopf marks the westernmost point of the Schwarzwassertal and is the perfect place to enjoy a fabulous ski tour. The conditions happened to be just right, so we set off on a ski tour to the summit.

Skitour im Schwarzwasser | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Chris Lemke

However, before I proceed, I need to go back a little bit. If I am going to be more precise, I shouldn’t say that I went on a ski tour on the Hählekopf, instead I should say that I went on a splitboard tour. So, what is the difference? Both methods are the same for the ascent, however, at the summit, ski tourers remove their skins and prepare to descend the mountain on skis and splitboard tourers replace their skins with a snowboard. This is a small and subtle distinction, however, and it is not intended to detract from the real objective of the tour, namely the Hählekopf.

It is not clear how the mountain acquired its name. Some people speculate that it could have something to do with the word Hahn (cockerel) which connects this ski run with the similarly named Hahnenkamm mountain in Kitzbühel. Other people think that the summit acquired its name from the word häi which in the local dialect used to mean slippery or slithery. We could neither confirm nor refute any of these theories. We certainly did not encounter any cockerels or anything slithery during our trip!

Splitboard  | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Chris Lemke

So, let’s start at the beginning of our mountain adventure. We set off from our accommodation, the Schwarzwasserhütte which proved to be a very welcoming place to stay. We were certainly very well fed and watered here. Martin and his team have created an authentic and polished setting which, along with the fantastic location, offers unparalleled alpine experiences. After an energy-boosting breakfast, we set off in a westerly direction. We never lose sight of the Hählekopf as it rises majestically over the Schwarzwassertal.

The terrain is initially only moderately steep as we head west along the path. One thing is certain, however; a ski tour on alpine terrain can be dangerous. Before we set off on our adventures, we asked Martin to advise us on the terrain and we also studied the weather and avalanche reports. An avalanche warning in the grade 1 zone and a weather forecast predicting stable high pressure gives us the green light to embark on the tour.

Hählekopf im Hintergrund der Widderstein | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Chris Lemke

So, we head off along the direct westerly route until we reach the Gerachsattel. This marks the end of the Schwarzwassertal and it is also where you can find the source of the stream that bears the same name. This is also a good spot to get a good view of the Diedamskopf ski resort if you look in a westerly direction. However, we are not really interested in looking at this and we change course and head north. The track becomes a little steeper as we head up the Hählekopf. The track is not steep enough to require arduous hairpin bends, so we are able to enjoy the sunshine and heavenly views as we make our ascent.

After two and a half hours, we are standing right at the top covered in sweat. Although there isn’t a cross at the summit of the Hählekopf, we didn’t actually need one to know that we had arrived at the top. The view is obviously spectacular. To the west, the mountainous state of Vorarlberg and Lake Constance, to the south the Three-Thousander peaks, to the east Kleinwalsertal and to the north the distinctive outline of the Ifen.

Hählekopf im Hintergrund der Ifen | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Chris Lemke

After we have all taken our selfies, reconstructed our climbing equipment and had a drink of schnapps, we come to the moments that we have been anticipating for days, months and years: a downhill run through untouched deep snow in tranquil and lonely surroundings. This is what ski touring is all about. This is what Kleinwalsertal is all about.

Chris Lemke runs the website Bergwasser which offers outdoor experiences such as canyoning and rafting. He keeps himself fit through the winter with ski touring and other winter sports.

Aufstieg der Skitourengruppe | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

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