Fascinated, Franz Güntner looks around him. He is enjoying the panorama of the Berchtesgaden Alps up here on the Archenkanzel. And yet it is not his first time up here. Franz comes from Freilassing, only around 40 kilometres away from Berchtesgaden. The Berchtesgaden Alps are his living room, the Archenkanzel his balcony. “I have been to Patagonia and have hiked through Scotland, but nowhere is more beautiful than my home,” he says with conviction – and it is not hard to believe him. He appears to be in good shape and moves effortlessly along the mountain paths around the Watzmann (2713 m). It is a legendary mountain surrounded by myth and legend with massive faces – a challenge for mountain climbers from throughout the world and a breath-taking backdrop for Alpine hikers.
When hiking, you see the two faces of the mountains – both the rugged one and the charming one.
Franz’s favourite way up to the Archenkanzel is via the Rinnkendlsteig. To do this, you have to start with an idyllic trip in a motorboat over Lake Königsee to St. Bartholomew’s Church and then go up the eastern flank of the Kleiner Watzmann with spectacular views. Some places are secured by a rope; sometimes, you have the feeling of balancing directly over the lake. “You need a head for heights and to be sure-footed.”
This morning, however, Franz set off on the other side – from Hammerstiel towards the south via the Grünstein. This shows another aspect of mountain hiking – the idyllic side. Instead of through barren rocky landscapes, the hiking paths lead through beautiful forests and picturesque Alpine pastures. Sometimes, you hear a cow bell; a gentle mountain breeze rustles through the leaves. Huts and guesthouses, such as the Kührointalm, invite you to linger a while. “Perfect for a bite to eat”, says Franz and sets off on the return journey – with a short break, of course.
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