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Far from the classic Alpine crossings – L1 from Garmisch to Brescia

Christoph Morbitzer

Far from the classic Alpine crossings – L1 from Garmisch to Brescia

Hiking Collection by Mareike

26-58

days

3-6 h

/ day

259 mi

84,700 ft

86,125 ft

E5, Traumpfad, Via Claudia...You might’ve already heard of these Alpine crossings. However, if you’d like to hike from Germany across the mountains to Italy, I suggest the L1. Planned by the author Hans Losse in 1989, this is a demanding alpine crossing from Garmisch–Partenkirchen to Brescia. You hike across the Alps without using any mountain railways or buses, and, for the most part, far away from roads.

Along the way, you can expect panoramic peaks, exciting ridges and mighty glaciers. You hike through countless picturesque high mountain valleys, where rustic huts welcome you for a cosy evening. Some huts are located on rocky slopes with spectacular views whilst others overlook the shores of magnificent mountain lakes. With so many passes, you enter a new mountain world almost every day.

This alpine crossing runs along high and demanding paths, which are sometimes exposed. Some passages are secured with ropes or steps. Occasionally, you find yourself scrambling rather than hiking. In the Martell Valley, you also have a short glacier crossing to overcome. For this route, surefootedness, a head for heights and experience in alpine terrain are essential.

You should plan about one month to experience the whole of this L1 alpine crossing. The best time to hike is from July to mid–September – depending on the snow conditions during winter, a little earlier may be possible. You'll spend most nights in mountain huts and you'll occassionally pass through a valley where you can restock your supplies and enjoy a little more comfort. Book your bed in the huts and in the valleys as early as you can, although this can be difficult on such a long hike as your plans may change because of the weather. Getting there and back is relatively easy as both the start and end point have train stations.

On this alpine crossing, it’s wonderful to see how the surroundings change with each stage: from the popular Zugspitz region to the main Alpine ridge between the Tyrolean Ötztal and the South Tyrolean Vinschgau to the Adamello group with Italy's largest glacier and the Brescian Pre–Alps, before finally concluding in Brescia.

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Alpenüberquerung L1

260 mi

84,975 ft

86,500 ft

Last updated: November 15, 2022

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Garmisch–Partenkirchen to Kreuzeckhaus – Alpine crossing L1

    Difficult
    03:16
    5.49 mi
    1.7 mph
    3,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage of crossing the Alps on the L1 is moderate and can be easily adapted to your arrival. If you have traveled to Garmisch-Partenkirchen earlier, you can take this stage comfortably and slowly get used to the long days on your feet.

    

    If you want to start right away on the day of arrival, the

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  • Difficult
    06:32
    9.20 mi
    1.4 mph
    3,325 ft
    2,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The second stage takes you to the beautiful mountains below the Zugspitze. From the Kreuzeckhaus it goes briefly along the ridge and then on beautiful paths with great views along the mountain slopes. A steep descent takes you to the Reintal, where you can take a first break in the Bockhütte.

    

    Then you

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  • Difficult
    03:40
    5.06 mi
    1.4 mph
    750 ft
    2,875 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    On this relatively leisurely day you cross the border into Austria. It's a lot more downhill than uphill. From the Knorrhütte you cross the slopes without loss of altitude to the border between Germany and Austria, which lies on a ridge and is even marked with a gate.

    

    After a short, steep ascent, it soon

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  • Difficult
    07:01
    10.4 mi
    1.5 mph
    2,450 ft
    4,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This stage takes you over the Mieminger chain. After a short stretch through the valley, things get off to a great start: In many hairpin bends and quite steeply you hike up to the saddle of the Niedere Munde, from where you can see the Inn Valley for the first time.

    

    The descent is just as steep as the

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  • Difficult
    09:58
    14.9 mi
    1.5 mph
    7,200 ft
    3,425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is the first really long and conditionally very demanding stage. For this you will be rewarded with the first two peaks of the route. From the Mieminger Plateau it goes steeply down to the Inn. After crossing the river, you wander through Stams, where an impressive abbey stands. From there you follow

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  • Difficult
    04:54
    6.21 mi
    1.3 mph
    2,600 ft
    2,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This is again a more moderate stage. If you still want to save yourself a few meters in altitude, you can take the Dreiseenbahn cable car and then hike to the Finstertal reservoir, which is the first highlight of this stage.

    

    You hike along its shore and then climb steeply to the Finstertaler Scharte

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  • Difficult
    04:38
    6.50 mi
    1.4 mph
    2,650 ft
    1,575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Stage 7 is conditionally moderate with great prospects. The mountains keep getting higher and you get really close to a glacier for the first time. It starts in the morning through the beautiful valley of the Zwieselbach. You already have the Zwieselbachferner in view, which you then hike past at the

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  • Intermediate
    03:34
    5.87 mi
    1.6 mph
    1,550 ft
    2,200 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    On this stage, you first go downhill and then uphill again via wonderful valley paths. From the Winnebachseehütte you hike along the mountain slopes above the Winnebach and climb down over the tree line into the Sulztal. There you will pass the small town of Winnebach. If you descend a little further

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  • Difficult
    09:47
    11.9 mi
    1.2 mph
    3,325 ft
    5,525 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    On this stage, the demanding transition over the Atterkarjoch is on the program. The first section through the valley is still good, then it goes steeply and partly over large boulders up towards Atterkar, in which there is still a small glacier. The glacier-free path leads to the top via a small via

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  • Difficult
    06:56
    10.7 mi
    1.5 mph
    5,000 ft
    225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    After descending into the valley the day before, this stage can only go uphill. You hike quite comfortably through the valley to Obergurgl. Here, too, you can once again enjoy all the comforts of civilization.

    

    Then it continues on mountain paths. You hike along the slope to the beautifully situated Ramolhaus

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  • Difficult
    04:41
    7.46 mi
    1.6 mph
    1,650 ft
    3,225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    From the Ramolhaus it is a short and crisp climb to the yoke of the same name, where tools such as kicks and ropes will help you over the rocks. On the other side you hike past the Spiegelferner downhill into the Vent valley.

    

    Once at the bottom, it then goes up the valley on the slopes above the Niedertalbach

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  • Difficult
    06:26
    7.28 mi
    1.1 mph
    3,650 ft
    2,625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    On this day you can expect another summit and one with a magnificent view of some of the well-known mountains around: Among other things, the Wildspitze and Similaun can be seen from the Saykogel. Stage 12 also takes you to the third and last country of the L1 Alpine crossing, to Italy.

    

    From the Martin

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  • Difficult
    10:46
    14.7 mi
    1.4 mph
    2,550 ft
    9,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The 3,000 vertical meters in the descent are no picnic. With an overnight stay in Kurzras, to which you descend from the hut, this can unfortunately only be mitigated a little, as it is only about 300 meters in altitude to get there. Another possibility would be to take a bus from Kurzras to Naturns

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  • Difficult
    08:01
    10.3 mi
    1.3 mph
    5,900 ft
    2,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    You guessed it: you lost a lot of altitude in the previous stage, which you now have to regain. Past apple orchards you hike through Göflan to the edge of the valley and then uphill through the forest to the Göflaner Alm, which is good for a break before you climb to the Göflaner Scharte.

    

    With that, the

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  • Difficult
    06:16
    8.64 mi
    1.4 mph
    3,725 ft
    1,500 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    On this stage through the Martelltal you can expect a lot of ups and downs. You follow the Martello Höhenweg, which runs along the slopes, but also lets you descend a few meters in between. Sometimes you hike on boardwalks along rock faces, while meadows and forests alternate again and again.

    

    In the back

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  • Difficult
    06:55
    10.5 mi
    1.5 mph
    1,650 ft
    4,950 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    On this stage you are now hiking across the language border into Italian-speaking Italy. The transition leads over the Fürkelescharte, under which lies the glacier of the same name, which the route also crosses. The rock in the area of the col is often loose, so caution is advised.

    

    From the Fürkelescharte

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  • Difficult
    06:09
    9.74 mi
    1.6 mph
    4,075 ft
    1,125 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    After the long descent on yesterday's stage, there is a long climb today. From Peio you hike up the southern slopes of the valley, which you then cross with little gain in altitude. On the first half of this stage you can once again enjoy the lush vegetation below the tree line before heading back to

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  • Difficult
    05:00
    10.0 mi
    2.0 mph
    400 ft
    4,750 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    On this stage, you return to the valley for one night and thus to civilization. You will get to know the next mountain group from afar, which will determine the following stages: the Adamello. Overall, this section is one long descent.

    

    From the Rifugio Bozzi you cross the slopes with little loss of altitude

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  • Difficult
    05:09
    8.56 mi
    1.7 mph
    4,650 ft
    50 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    On this day you penetrate into the mountains of Adamello. You follow Adamello Höhenweg number 1, which begins with a long climb. From Temù you hike slowly but steadily uphill through the wooded valley of the Torrente Avio.

    

    A few hairpin bends take you up to three reservoirs in a row, which you run along

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  • Difficult
    05:48
    7.24 mi
    1.2 mph
    2,150 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This stage is also characterized by the (reservoir) lakes. However, the world looks very different here than on the previous day. You hike over granite blocks and narrow paths through a high alpine environment. From the Rifugio Gnutti it is downhill with more meters than uphill to the next reservoir

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    28
  • Distance
    259 mi
  • Duration
    175:23 h
  • Elevation
    84,700 ft86,125 ft

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