I can admit it: I had never heard of the Marienbergjoch high above the Mieminger Plateau in all the years I have lived in Tyrol. Especially not that this alpine crossing had most likely already been used in prehistoric times and had also seen crowned heads in the Middle Ages.
It was research on Burg Klamm, located between Mötz and Obsteig, that gave me these new insights. A hike to the Marienbergalm with subsequent ascent to the Joch of the same name was therefore inevitable for me. Especially since the valley is also the scene of a mythical legend. Here, the three legendary "Saligen Fräulein" once watched over mountains and animals. They were worshipped throughout the Alpine region and are nothing other than the three female goddesses to whom the Raetians, a kind of indigenous people of the Alpine region, paid homage. I have already written a text about this.
The direct way from the Außerfern to the Inn
In the writing of Hubert Stecher, local chronicler of Obsteig, "Burg Klamm in Obsteig", he mentions a very special reason why this castle stands on a rocky spur high above the Inn valley: "Already in prehistoric times, a mule track led from Mötz via Obsteig to the Außerfern," it reads. "A route, however, that did not lead over Nassereith and the Fernpass, but directly over the Marienbergjoch into the Ehrwald basin." Conversely, older people tell of how people from Außerfern who used to have to go to Innsbruck had hiked over the Marienbergjoch to the train station in Mötz. So I set off for the 'Arzkasten', which the local chronicler names as the starting point of this Alpine crossing.
Ore prospectors opened up the valley
The name 'Arzkasten' - meaning ore box - is no coincidence. After ascending the forest road that leads to the left of the Roßbach to the Marienbergalm, and after leaving the dense mixed forest, they can be seen: the medieval 'Knappenlöcher' (miners' holes) that make the rugged limestone cliffs of the Mieminger Kette mountains look like Swiss cheese. Here, medieval miners certainly mined mainly for metals such as copper. However, there are also indications that there must have been all kinds of ore seekers here in prehistoric times.
After about one and a half hours, the hikers reach the Marienbergalm, where up to 200 head of cattle and young cattle of the Barwies farmers graze in the summer. The alpine hut, located at 1,623 meters above sea level, is managed all year round, i.e. also in winter. What had surprised me again. But clearly: The Außerferner skiing area around Biberwier 'spills' here quasi over the Marienbergjoch to the Marienbergalm. The winter is thus 'opened up' by a good old drag lift quasi from the Außerfern.
Marienbergalm: Fragrant and hearty food from the alpine kitchen
Caroline and Christian Soraperra have been taking care of the physical well-being of their guests here for seven years. Was it a sign from heaven that Christian had just prepared his universally praised apple strudel when I arrived, knowing that this is my favorite cake? The menu, of course, also offers hearty hearty, ranging from soups to all kinds of dumplings to sausages, noodles and Kasspatzln. The prices? Moderate for this altitude. By the way, the fact that the Marienbergalm has 23 sleeping places available, spread over four rooms, makes it a perfect mixture of alpine club hut and alpine pasture.
Ascent to the Joch
Christian, the host of the alpine hut, had prepared me for two 'caves' that can be seen on the way to the Joch. The place is called 'beggar's turn'. In fact, these are probably two 'miner's holes' that were once used by ore prospectors.
Who now assumes that medieval beggars were stopped here, is most likely mistaken. It has rather to do with the 'Beten', that is with the three 'Saligen Fräulein'. Their names end in the whole alpine region with -bet. In Tyrol widespread areAnbet, Wilbet and Borbet. In names like 'Bettlerküche', 'Bettlerspitze' or 'Bettlerbichl' this 'bet' might have been deformed to 'Bettler'.
And indeed, the 'Marabarg Saga' located in the area of the Marienbergjoch describes the love of one of the 'Saligen Fräulein' for a young hunter. She, dressed in a glistening white robe, demanded only one thing from her young lover: that he promise not to tell anyone her real name or where she came from. The disaster began when young local boys wanted to know what their colleague was doing in the mountains. They piled up brushwood and put a doll on the pile and set it on fire. Georg, the hunter, thought the doll was his beloved Mara and called her name loudly, whereupon he fell over a ledge and lay shattered in the depths. Mara and her 'saligen' wept so bitterly that a lake was formed, which still exists today at the foot of the glove tops. Then, in Christian times, the Marabarg became the Marienberg and the 'prayer conversion' became the beggar conversion. The website of the Marienbergalm describes this legend in detail.
From the Marienbergjoch, at 1,789 meters above sea level, hikers can see the Außerfern region virtually at their feet. The view stretches all the way to Lermoos, and to the left and right of the pass towering lime towers with names that take some getting used to: Wamperter Schrofen, Schartenkopf or Handschuhspitzen.
Descent via the Alpsteig
The descent I completed via the Alpsteig, which runs east of the Roßbach. Here a certain surefootedness is required, because there are several stream channels to overcome, which are however provided with holding ropes.
- The Mieming-Obsteig tourist information office arranges shuttle trips to the Marienbergalm. Information under this telephone number: +43 512 53566414
- The website of the Marienbergalm: https://www.marienbergalm.com/
- Location map of the Marienbergalm
- The Marienbergjoch is well known and popular among mountain bikers. As for example the tour from Ehrwald to the Joch.
- I have used information from the book "Die Burg Klamm in Obsteig" by Hubert Stecher. Remaining copies are available at the tourist information offices in Mötz and Mieming.
- The municipality of Obsteig offers a remarkable website of its village chronicle: https://www.chronik-obsteig.at/digitale-chronik/
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A volunteer at the "Schule der Alm" alpine farming school, cultural pilgrim, Tyrol aficionado and Innsbruck fan.