In Kochel, a small Bavarian town in the foothills of the Alps at the shores of Lake Kochel, the summer festival on Assumption Day is still a major event: in the church and at the lake.
“Oh Jesus Christ, please protect us from lightning, hail and storm.” The small church is hazy with incense and full of locals in their best dress: Women in dirndls and small black felt hats pinned to their carefully wound buns, and men in lederhosn und loden jackets.
They hold pointed hats with feathers and flowers stuck in their hatbands, and some have brought old weapons. The flails, guns, halberds and morning stars commemorate a local revolt against Austrian rule in 1704. The women have brought bunches of flowers and herbs to be consecrated. “There should be more herbs in it,” a woman in full traditional costume admits. “I just took what I had ready to hand: rosemary, basil, valerian, chamomile, chives, …” With that, she sticks a small blue flower to Isa’s bicycle “It will protect you from traffic accidents!”
In the evening, everyone gathers at the lake for the local summer festival. An old man in full costume is stumbling away, having apparently gone through a few Mass (each is about 1 liter) of beer since the morning. Benches and a dancing stage are put up, a brass band in traditional costume plays, and young locals sell grilled fish, grilled pork’s neck and cakes baked by the Kochel housewives.
Sports climbing at Lake Kochel
“Do you know the area?” The bikers we meet on a gravelly forest path halfway up to the 1731 m high Herzogstand have lost their way. “We were looking for the path along the lake.” Luckily for them, we do know most of the paths in the area by now, having spent several days on various sectors of the sports climbing area around Kochel. Most of the climbing walls are situated deep in the mountainous forests above Lake Kochel, but the approach is worth it: Nice rough limestone with some easier vertical routes, much less slippery than we had expected in a popular climbing area, and with well-positioned bolts.