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Alp panorama inclusive!

Another club outing which is interesting, especially for our more experienced divers, is the trip to the Walchensee. This lake, situated in the Bavarian Alps at 800m (above sea level - remember that you're diving at altitude there), not only offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, but also great dive spots (like the village Urfeld, or the old quarry). Our destination is usually the so-called "gallery". Its drop-off rock wall makes spectacular dives possible. Again, buoyancy control should have been mastered by divers, as the sheer drop goes down to a depth of over 100m!

Getting there:

Drive through Kochel up the Kesselbergstraße (B11) and over the pass. Follow the road down a bit, to the lake. Drive through Urfeld along the lake
The "Gallerie"
on the B11. When you see a wooden tower-like contraption in the water to your left, you're nearly there. Just before a car gallery (like a tunnel, but with huge holes in one wall) there is a path leading to a car-park on the left (mind oncoming traffic!). Unfortunately this parking spot is often occupied for weeks by surfers with their mobile homes. If it is full, you have to park on the grass verge on the right of the road. When kitted up and attempting to cross the road, speed and alertness are of the essence, as cars shoot out of the gallery with considerable speed!

If you're in luck and manage to park on the space next to the gallery the walk to the

The entry point
entry point is quite short, as it is located at the end of the car-park. Some stairs lead to a catwalk reaching into the water, at the end of which is a little wooden hut. To reach the water it is necessary to climb down the stony embankment, which is quite hard when the water level is low. At those times a rope is definitely necessary if a tumble down the stones is to be avoided. Once in the water, don your mask and fins, check your buddy and start your dive! At this point the bottom is only about 10m down, turning immediately into a steep underwater hill.

The dive

It is best to descend along the catwalk pylons and to find the lightning

The Ford wreck: Now with added car stereo!
rod leading from the hut into the deep. The rod is more of a flat metallic band which you should follow down the (really steep) slope to a depth of about 36m (+/- 2m depending on the water level). Turn left and dive along the slope, keeping your depth. After about 10m you'll hit upon one of the lake's attractions: the Wreck of an old Ford (or Lloyd or Opel depending on the source of the information). There used to be mannequin tastefully draped over the steering wheel, but I didn't see it during my last dives there. Depending on the remaining no decompression time or the amount of decompression time planned you can now have a leisurely look at the wreck (and take a few pictures) before advancing further left to the drop-off.

If visibility is good, it is a fantastic experience to point your light downwards and to

Another dark drop-off
see the dark wall gradually fade into the darkness. Or turn on your back and gaze at the stone formations illuminated by the back light of the surface. When doing so, you'll notice a lot of invidious overhangs - so be extremely careful when ascending so as not to bump you head. As mentioned before, the dive is not for the faint of heart or the weak at buoyancy! Apart from the danger of bumping your head when quickly ascending there is, of course, the danger of suddenly plunging down when losing control of your buoyancy. But if you are in control, it is both a thrill and pleasure to ascend along the impressive wall. At the end of the drop-off turn round, dive slowly upwards back along the wall and with a bit of luck (or good planning) you'll be back at the lightning rod at the end of your safety stop (or decompression stops).

copyright Andreas Nowotny 2004

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