The summit of Hochvogel. Photo: DPA
It is one of the most famous mountains in the Allgäu Alps – and it could soon be history. According to experts, the summit of the Hochvogel will soon collapse, and up to 260,000 cubic metres of rock could fall into the valley.
Yet the possible scenario is hardly shaking up the locals: According to the authorities, there is no particular threat to the population near the mountain.
For years now, a huge crevasse at the summit on the border between Bavaria and Tyrol has been growing in size, and the first rock falls have already occurred. Researchers use sensors to monitor the movement of the massif in order to be able to predict large rockfall.
The only building near the Hochvogel summit is the Prinz-Luitpold-Haus, an almost 140-year-old refuge of the German Alpine Club. But it is so far away that hardly anything can happen to it, says Andreas Kaenders of the Oberallgäu District Office.
There is no built-up area on the Austrian side, says Thomas Figl from the Tyrolean Landesgeologie association. "If there is the big rockfall, there will be a cloud of dust in the Hinterhornbach community depending on the wind, but the area is definitely not threatened," he says.
The village is more than two kilometres as the crow flies from the mountain.
The rock movements at the Hochvogel are monitored by researchers. According to them, the crack at the summit is currently a good 40 metres long, 8 metres deep and 3 metres wide.
In the Zugspitze area as well as in two other regions in Austria and Italy, threatened mountain regions are also being monitored by drone flights and measurement technology.
It is unclear whether the Hochvogel summit will actually come to an end with a great deal of noise. "There have been smaller and larger events for years," says state geologist Figl.
It is difficult to assess whether the rockfalls will continue piece by piece or whether the “big bang” will suddenly occur.