National Park Berchtesgaden
I love the mountains. The more rocky they get, the more interesting they look. The perspective you can take from the different peaks makes you feel very small. But what would it be like to be able to look over them all? In the age of smartphones and drones, that may be pretty easily achieved. Hike to the top, launch your drone, and get even higher.
But you don’t feel it, because you’re not really there. You get cool photos and videos, but the only excitement you feel is when suddenly the connection to the drone breaks off or you fly close to rocks and trees to get your shot. It’s definitely fun, but it’s still not what I was looking for. Being in the air without really being up there gave me the idea to go fly in the mountains with my dad. And what would be better than to start at sunrise and fly to the only german national park in the alps. To Berchtesgaden.
Now in early October, you don’t have to roll out of bed so mega early to catch the sunrise. Especially not when there’s a small airfield just 10 minutes from your own parents‘ house. Except for the small hangar and a grassy runway, there’s not much there. But that’s all you need. At this time of year it is often foggy in the morning, which makes the landscape even more interesting. Of course, we had looked for a promising weather window in advance. But we couldn’t really estimate the morning fog. It was simply a matter of playing poker. But if you want to take off with a small motor glider, the fog can be a real obstacle. In fact, if you can’t see the ground anymore, taking off is impossible. Or in other words: You can take off, but if you have to do an emergency landing, you no longer have a reference point to the ground. Not necessarily optimal.
So we stood in the hangar before sunrise and got everything ready. Not knowing yet if we would be able to take off at all. But the fog meant well with us.
The morning light combined with single patches of fog over the rivers was just insane. It brings me joy every time again, when I can experience my own home in this way once again completely different. The pure flight time to Berchtesgaden was about 45 minutes. Our destination: The Hochkalter, the Watzmann and the sea of stones.
A view like no other.
As we slowly approached the Hochkalter, we could see a large cloud that would be right in front of the sun. Without the morning light on the rocky slopes and peaks, you wouldn’t be able to see its wildness to the extent I had in mind. Further east, the light was perfect. We almost turned off to follow the light. In such situations, however, I often have to recall the actual plan. In short: Ignore the light to the east. So first wait and see. We started to circle the Hochkalter at summit level. Camera on, battery full and the finger on the Shutter. And after a few circles, luck was on our side.
„The nose further to the left, tilt the aircraft to the right. Oh and can we open the hood?“
When the sun finally did come through above the cloud, the light was just gorgeous. Not quite as golden as before, but still beautiful. The sun was still low enough to draw all the details in the rock that I was after. A small side window was my door to the outside to photograph. The lens just barely fit through the opening. As a result, I couldn’t always shoot at the angle I wanted. The solution: tighten the seat belts and open the hood! It may sound crazy, but that’s how it was. Feels totally crazy the first time, when at over 3000 meters the hood moves back and you hold the camera out of the plane. In addition, there is the icy cold. So i had to be quick. I always had to direct my dad a little before opening, so that we also had the right position. The announcement „Nose further to the left, right wing further down“ sounds simple, but in reverse it means that we no longer fly straight ahead, but rather jet through the air at quite an angle.
But yes… that’s how we did our rounds. First still further around the Hochkalter and the Wimbachtal, then around the king of the national park, the Watzmann and the Königssee.
Last but not least, we flew towards the summit of the Hochkönig over the sea of stones. Up there, you feel like you’re in another world. The only signs of civilization are the tiny mountain huts that can be found isolated among the rugged rocks. Compared to the jagged cliffs to the south, the plateau seems almost flat. And although you are flying between the clouds, it is also somewhere close to the ground. On our last flight we first flew along the cliffs in the direction of the Wimbachtal, turned upwards into the mist and finally dropped back down through a little hole in the clouds. Better than in any movie. A saying says you should stop when it’s at its best. And so we headed back home. With a full camera and both with a grin on their faces. A morning I will never forget.