Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Wetterstein’

My Tirol: Scharnitz and Porta Claudia

Where: Scharnitz, at the northern edge of Austria’s Tirol, next to the Austro-German frontier.
What: Porta Claudia, mid 17th-century fortifications directed by and named after Claudia de’ Medici.
BTW: Scharnitz Pass is technically not a mountain pass.

I’m interested in geography, historical relics, and the topography of European borders.

Scharnitz Pass is one of the lowest crossing points over the Alps at an elevation of only 955 metres (3130 feet) with the Wetterstein mountains on one side to the west and the Karwendel mountains to the other side in the east. The pass might better be described as a “gorge”, given how the Isar river traverses the valley floor between the two sets of mountains. Naturally, a road at this location would’ve been ideal as a vital north-south route for trade and communication, which is why the Romans built the stone road, Via Raetia, through the river valley. A 200-metre section of this old Roman road remains in the woods outside the nearby town of Klais. The location of the pass/gorge is also why the Romans built a guard station “Mansio Scarbia” here to control traffic between the northern outer provinces and the rest of the inner empire to the south.

One of the earliest records from the 8th-century AD/CE documents the establishment of Scaraza Monastery, known also as Scarantia#. The name evolved to “Scaraz”, “Scarbia”, “Scarnize”, and eventually “Scharnitz”. Today, between 1300 and 1400 people live in the Austrian town of Scharnitz in the Tirolean region of Seefeld. The town lies on the road between Innsbruck and Munich and next to the international border between Austria and Germany; the strategic importance of this modest town has never gone away.

“Porta Claudia” is the name of former fortifications on high ground at a narrow curve over the Isar river valley. In the midst of the pan-European Thirty Years War, Claudia de’ Medici, the Regent of Austrian Tirol, ordered in 1632 the construction of a strategic defensive rampart at the Tirol-Bavaria border to protect Tirol’s northern border from invasion by Swedish forces. The Bavarians overran the rampart in 1706, but fortifications were expanded in 1766. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about passing through Scharnitz in 1786 on his journey into Italy. In 1805, Napolean’s army laid siege and destroyed the fortifications, freeing the path for joint French-Bavarian armed forces to enter Austria. Remnants of the retaining wall up to six metres in height and an archway through the wall are visible today.

I’m up and about at dawn, and within 50 minutes on an S-Bahn Tirol S5 train from Innsbruck, I’m about to satisfy my curiosity about this stretch of the Tirolean landscape in Scharnitz. With the existing Schengen treaty among participating European nations, anyone can walk, bike, or drive freely across the unguarded international border between Austria and Germany%.


( Click here for images and more )

St. Johannes der Täufer, Obergrainau, Grainau, Waxenstein, Wetterstein, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bayern, Bavaria, Oberbayern, Upper Bavaria, Germany, Deutschland, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday in the Alps: Grainau

An infrequent but sure way to get me up, oot, and aboot in early-morning is if there is good light; if there’s the promise of something sparkly and shiny; and if there’s the promise of a subsequent shot. This image takes place in late-spring at 645am in Grainau, about 15 minutes west from the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in southern Germany. The St. John the Baptist church and cemetery lie at the foot of the looming Wetterstein mountains. The country’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, pokes out from behind to the right of the church steeple.

I made the photo above on 28 May 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the following settings: 1/500-sec, f/10, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-glP.

Alpspitze, Alpspitzbahn, Alpspitz-Gebiet, Osterfelderkopf, skiing, snowboarding, Garmisch-Classic, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Grainau, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Skiing at Alpspitze (Bayern 100)

It’s full swing into (northern) autumn, which for many means that winter and winter sports aren’t far off! (Me, I’m still mourning over the loss of summer.)

From the valley station in Grainau in Upper Bavaria, the Alpspitzbahn cable-car takes visitors on a steep ascent past the rocky outcrop of the neighbouring Waxenstein peaks to the Bergstation (mountain station) on Osterfelderkopf at an elevation of 2050 metres (6726 feet). The Alpspitz-Gebiet (Alpspitz area) is dominated by the distinctive pyramidal-shaped Alpspitze summit (2628 metres, 8622 feet) which is visible upper-left. In winter, skiers and snowboarders come up to experience the powder conditions as part of the “Garmisch-Classic” skiing area; admission prices vary for non-skiers like me.

November 2018 is the 100th anniversary for the declaration of Bavaria as “free state” (Freistaat). I made the photo above on 26 February 2017 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 glass, and the following settings: 1/500-sec, f/16, ISO1000, and 24mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9tz.

Grossglockner, Grossvenediger, Hohe Tauern, Austria, Oesterreich, Alps, Zugspitze, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: top of Austria from the top of Germany

For over ten years, I’d been trying to confirm claims of naked-eye sightings (and subsequent photographic evidence) of Italy from Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany at 2962 metres. Not only did I verify the claim, but I also sighted additional mountain peaks of the Alps in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

The next question was whether I could see the highest peak in Austria. With Google Maps (see below), I determined a line-of-sight distance of 135 kilometres from Zugspitze to Grossglockner. I had been wise to use both wide- and zoom-lenses to cover as much of the horizon from the southeast through the south and over to the northwest.

Photo (1) above is at azimuth 105 degrees (east-southeast) at 70mm focal length. The area framed in a red solid line is shown in the next photo, and the area framed in a white dashed line includes peaks of the Nordkette (North Chain) towering over the city of Innsbruck. Labeled are the Wettersteinhauptkamm ridge along the Austria-Germany border, the Jubilämsgrat ridge descending from the Zugspitze summit, and the Gletscherbahn (glacier cable car) between summit and plateau 300 metres below.

With an optical-mechanical zoom at 300mm focal length, photo (2) below* shows Grossglockner (3798 metres), Austria’s highest peak, and Grossvenediger (3657 metres). Both peaks lie in the Hohe Tauern mountain range in the central eastern Alps.


Grossglockner, Grossvenediger, Hohe Tauern, Austria, Oesterreich, Alps, Zugspitze, Germany, fotoeins.com

Photo (2): Grossglockner is Austria’s highest mountain at a height of 3798 metres (12461 feet) above sea-level.


Click the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend.

* I made both photos on 25 February 2017 with the Canon 6D, 70-300 glass, and settings: 1/1000-sec, f/16, ISO500, and 70mm/300mm focal lengths; beide Fotoaufnahmen sind mit Wasserzeichen versehen worden. I made extensive use of Google Earth, Google Maps, Alpenwelt Karwendel, AMAP Austria (from BEV Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen), and Open Topo Map. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bco.

Ehrwald, Tirol, Tyrol, Austria, Oesterreich, Zugspitze, Wetterstein, Wettersteingebirge, Wetterstein mountains, Alps

Fotoeins Friday: Zugspitze from Ehrwald, Austria

The impressive near-vertical wall of the snow-covered Zugspitze mountain faces west into Austria, which is where I’m standing in the town of Ehrwald (Tirol). I’ve come here to see the mountain face bathed in late-winter afternoon light. Meanwhile, in the foreground comes a little truck with a farmer accompanied by his trusty canine companion, and a bale of hay in the back.


I made the picture above on 25 February 2017 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 glass, and the following settings: 1/800-sec, f/16, ISO1000, and 28mm focal length. Die Fotoaufnahme ist mit Wasserzeichen versehen worden. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-aM7.

%d bloggers like this: