AT20 a three country border visit

This expedition started and finished in Munich with with fellow IBRG members travelling from Denmark. The route maximised the opportunities to visit Enclaves, secondary tripoints, border crossings (road and rail) and to view border markers, some relatively new and some old. The trip was a fast moving 5 day trip visiting 3 countries, an enclave, crossing many borders and undertaking day hikes to get to more remote border areas.

I describe this expedition as an informal IBRG trip as it was in addition to the usual much larger annual trip (sadly curtailed due to Corona Virus border restrictions).

Participants: (Left to Right) Barry Arnold (UK), Peter Hering (AT) and Steen Schelde (DK)

Happy Border Enthusiasts at the secondary tripoint between Bayern/Salzburg and Tyrol.

Day One

My border friends arrived on the overnight train from Copenhagen and as arranged met me in Munich. I stayed at the Hotel Italia, close to the Hauptbahnhof. The adventure begins, with the journey to Kleinwalsertal & Oberstdorf. Kleinwalsertal is a beautiful valley situated within the Allgau Alps. Due to the mountains there is no road link with the rest of Vorarlberg and the only road link is to Germany. It is accessible only via Oberstdorf, Germany, to the north, and thus is an Austrian pene-exclave. There were two areas of focus on this visit, the bridge across the Schanztobel which marks the entrance to the exclave and as the Kleinwalsertal is almost completely surrounded by high mountains by taking Kesslerlift cable car to the Fellhorn ridge it was possible to explore the alpine border markers between Austria and Germany.

Austrian national and regional signs on entry to the exclave
Looking towards the Fellhorn summit. Can you spot the border.

Old border marker on the German side of the river.
Note the number – this is one in a series of markers between #161 and #162

More details of our Kleinwalsertal trip are available here. After the obligatory coffee and cakes we travelled to our second pene-exclave of our trip, Jungholz. Sadly on this trip we were not able to climb the Sorgschrofen (1636m), a mountain whose summit has almost mythical status within the border enthusiast community as it is one of the few verified quadripoints with 4 municipalities meeting at Border marker #110. Because of our schedule and shortness of time, we explored the 2 access roads to the exclave and explored a rural track hunting for more border markers.

German National Markers on the Bridge over the Mulhbach.
The border is clearly marked on the bridge and follows the middle of the stream.

More details of our Jungholz trip are available here. We stayed in the wonderful Landhaus Windrose.

Day Two

Another busy day of border spotting awaits. After leaving Jungholz we crossed the AT/DE border once again at Oberjoch (DE)- Steig (AT) with the border being suitably indicated by regional and national signs as well as a border marker. More details of this border crossing here.

Border marker at the Oberjoch (DE)- Steig (AT) border crossing,

Whereas by definition, road border crossing are easily accessible our next destination was anything but. The Schrofenpass (1688m) connects Oberstdorf (or the Allgäu) with Austria. The Schrofen Pass is particularly well-known among mountain bikers who looked to me as if they pushed their bikes more than they rode them. We hiked the footpath 445 up to the pass and then hiked along the ridge (lots of border markers, although many were inaccessible because of the brambles and dense vegetation) to the Haldenwanger Eck which marks not only the southernmost point in Germany but also the point where Bavaria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg meet. Border marker 147 is an impressive monument with regional symbols and border markings cut into its top. It also became a meeting point for hikers. More details of our hike are here and us reaching the Haldenwanger Eck are here.

Finally at the top of the Schrofenpass (1688m) with a suitably placed bench to be taken advantage of.
Border marker 147 at the Haldenwanger Eck. The southernmost point in Germany

Day Three

After travelling and staying overnight in in Ischgl at the Hotel Garni Martina were well placed to tackle our next border adventure. Two new experiences for me: riding an e bike and crossing the Austria/Swiss border on route to the remote Heidelberger Hütte (2,264) in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden.

AT/CH Border marker- note the S marking.
Heidelberger Hütte

Writing this account in 2022 it easy to forget that this visit took place when Europe was partially locked down and than masks were being worn everywhere. Ischgl was a footnote in the transmission of COVID 19 when over 6000 skiers from 45 countries contracted the virus. Although the first reported cases were in March 2020 it was thought the virus was present several weeks before. Subsequent legal action led to health officials being cleared of any wrongdoing.

After renting our e bikes here and travelling by the Silvrettabahn , we tried out our e bikes for the first time. Given the inclines and the off road conditions higher up, e bikes were definitely the way to go. Crossing the Austria/Switzerland border (walkers and cyclists only) and noting the border markers and country signs there. It was only a short hop to the alpine hut and lunch, meal number 2 of the day in country number 2! Details of our visit to the Heidelberger Hütte are here.

Travelling on from Ischgl we headed for Innsbruck-Trins. One more border visit however was planned. Brenner Pass is a fascinating place for border enthusiasts, with a complex border transecting the road, and rail networks. The border is well marked with many markers some inset into the roads themselves. Several historical markers also exist. Our third meal of the day in country number 3 ( a few meters from Austria) made it a truly international experience. Although we were in Italy, this is a German speaking area and no Italian was heard for the duration of our stay. Details of our visit to the Brenner Pass are here.

On the AT/CH border!
AT/IT Border marker #47

Day Four

After leaving Weberhof guesthouse in Trins we headed to begin our hike to Pfitscher Joch and the mountain hut which over the border in Italy. After a couple of hours of walking uphill we made it to the pass.

AT/IT Border marker #147 at the top of the Pfitscherjoch pass.

Our destination is a rugged mountain pass and border crossing on the high alpine frontier linking Austria & Italy.  Whilst most other walkers were not as keen in tracing the varied border markers, border marker #147 at the top of the pass was a focal point. The border is well marked with a variety of different markers, some being signs bolted onto rocks and others of the bore traditional type. Nestled in the Zillertal Alps, the pass links Tyrol, Austria, and South Tyrol, Italy and links Val di Vizze and Valle dello Zamser Grund. There is a good restaurant/hotel at the summit, called Rifugio Passo di Vizze, built in 1888. The pass itself is traffic free, the only way to get there is by cycle or walking. Details of our visit are here.

After returning to our car (in the rain), we returned to the Brenner pass, but this time to the eastern time to note the border markers there. Details of our visit are here.

Welcome to the Sud Tirol, Italy.
AT/IT Border marker #148

Day Five

Our final day was packed with border interest. Our first visit was to 2 sights near Hechtsee. The first was a joint rail and road crossing between Austria and Germany with both national and regional signs as well as demarcation between the ÖBB  and DB rail companies. The next sight was the actual Hectsee a lake on the border which is marked by a historical border marker from 1844. Details of our visits are here.

AT/DE Rail and Road Crossing near Hectsee
Found It!! A border marker from 1824.
AT/DE Border Marker B = Bayern.

On to Reit im Winkl where the interconnectedness of the AT/DE border has lead to a golf course that is right on the border and border markers are everywhere. It must be great when a sliced shot ends up in a different country! Details of our visit are here.

Our last visit is to our second secondary tripoint visit of the trip on top of the Scheibelberg. Border marker #203 on the AT/DE border also marks the point where the federal states of Bavaria, Tyrol and Salzburg meet and is suitably well marked by a historical and ornate marker with the Lander emblems. A suitable ending to a busy few days looking at points on the Austrian border and 2 of its neighbours. Details of our visit are here.

Not many golf courses have these type of markers.
Bavaria, Tyrol and Salzburg Tripoint

Many thanks to my fellow AT20 participants for making this trip so enjoyable.

Dates of Visit: 3 September 2020 to 7 September 2020