When we arrived at the top of the Belchen, the highest peak in the area, I realized that I had probably seen it before, albeit from a distance. I’m sure I can see it from the outskirts of Sulzburg, I just hadn’t known what it was.
My wife had visited this mountain with friends a couple of summers ago. They had taken the cable car to the top and enjoyed the view. I didn’t ask, but I suspect they had coffee and cake on the patio – she seems to always know where the best cake is to be found.
You can get there by bus, which surprised me a little, but we chose to go by car. I have no idea how long it takes to get there by public transit on a Sunday afternoon, but my guess is forever. I think it is about 30 kilometres from where we live, and I know I would have to take a bus, a train and at least one more, maybe two more buses to make the trip. If they only run once an hour…
We had limited time, so the only hiking we did was to walk around the top of the mountain, a two-kilometre loop. Why we chose one of the coldest days of the winter so far, I’m not quite sure. The temperature must have been around zero, and there was a bitter wind. Given that, we only did the route twice. After all, we are Canadians, and what passes for cold in southern Germany would be a nice spring day back home. It was so nice to finally see some snow – I have been missing it as there really is no winter in Sulzburg.
I gather the hill is a popular spot for skiing and snowboarding. The parking lot was full, with lots of cars parked on the street leading up to the mountain. The cable car we took was full going up and empty (except for us) coming down, a sure sign that most people are coming down under their own power. We might have walked down ourselves (or up for that matter), but had been told that would take an hour, which was time we couldn’t spare due to other commitments for the afternoon.
The skiing and snowboarding didn’t look that exceptional to me – I doubt the runs are very challenging if you are a frequent skier. However, we weren’t there for the sport (or the cake on this particular day) but for the view. That was worth the trip. You can see the valleys around the mountain and the little villages nestled in them. No snow in those villages, it is only up top that there is real winter. We could look in the direction of Sulzburg but couldn’t see it, there was another mountain in the way. I could see Staufen though, a town we walk to on a regular basis (they have good cake there). It looked pretty near, a reminder of just how much the roads to the top meandered.
I’m not sure what the significance of the cross on the top of the mountain is. Probably there’s information in a guidebook somewhere, or online, but this wasn’t a planned visit, so I didn’t look it up beforehand. After the fact I figure it is your responsibility to do so. The same goes for the concrete marker near the cross. I have no idea what happened there in 1798, and it you want to look it up and leave me a message in the comments section that would be great.
In theory, having been to the top of the mountain and seen the view there is no need to back to The Belchen. I suspect though that I will return at some point in the summer, and maybe walk it, at least one day or maybe both up and down. I’m sure it is beautiful in the summer.