Kahler Asten ( German pronunciation (help·info)) is an
841.9-metre-high mountain in the Rothaar range in the district of
Hochsauerland, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is a
popular destination, receiving more than 500,000 visitors annually.
4 Weather station
Observation tower and hotel-restaurant
7 Exhibition on the mountain
8 Winter sport
9 See also
12 External links
Kahler Asten is located in the northwestern part of the
Rothaargebirge in the
Hochsauerland region, a little southwest of
Winterberg between the villages of Altastenberg,
Climatic diagram - Kahler Asten
Erroneously, the Kahle Asten is often said to be the highest mountain
North Rhine-Westphalia or even sometimes in the whole of northwest
Germany, because it is shown on the WDR weather map. In fact the
highest peak is the 843.1-metre-high Langenberg on the state border
with Hesse; and the nearby summit of the
Hegekopf (842.9 m) in
Hesse, where the
Rothaar Mountains merge into the Upland near
Willingen, is even higher. The height of the Kahle Asten on the latest
topographical maps is given as 841.9 m, but its height is also
recorded on a marker stone at the spot as 842 m. The Kahle Asten is
therefore only the third highest mountain in the region, but the most
well known by far.
View from the Kahle Asten
Part of the Rhine-
Weser watershed runs over the Kahler Asten, and the
Lenne also has its source near the summit. The enclosed spring, which
only wells up from time to time, is located at a height of 820 m
and is thus the highest river source in northwest Germany. The Lenne
flows west into the
Ruhr and on into the Rhine. Another stream, the
Odeborn, emerges on the southeast slope of the mountain, whilst the
Sonneborn rises on the northeast side and flows southeast. These two
streams reach the
Weser via the
Eder and Fulda rivers.
There is a permanent
German Weather Service
German Weather Service weather station on the
Kahler Asten which is part of the weather bureau at Essen. It has
contributed significantly to the public's awareness of the mountain.
The summit of the
Kahler Asten is part of a mountain heath. Because
many rare and threatened species live there, it has been placed under
conservation protection as part of the
Kahler Asten nature reserve and
Special Area of Conservation
Special Area of Conservation (48.69 ha). Hardly any trees grow on the
heath, because the vegetation is kept short by sheep grazing. In
places, however, natural reforestation has already taken a strong hold
because the grazing is insufficient. Through manual intervention using
chain saws and strimmers, attempts are being made to stop this
reforestation. The vegetation consists mainly of common heather
(Calluna vulgaris), mat-grass and subshrubs. Breeding birds on the
heath include the meadow pipit and tree pipit. The black grouse used
to breed here, but the population died out decades ago.
Observation tower and hotel-restaurant
Restaurant and observation tower on the Kahle Asten
The Asten tower in winter
There is an observation tower on the summit of the Kahler Asten
immediately next to the hotel-restaurant called the Astenturm (Asten
tower). From the platform of the tower, which is
862 m above sea level (NN), there is a superb all-round
view over the
Rothaargebirge and other parts of the Sauerland. In very
clear weather, even the
Brocken mountain in the
163 km away, can be seen without the aid of binoculars.
Plans for a monument on the
Kahler Asten go back to the Vormärz
period in the first half of the 19th century. As early as 1843 King
Frederick William IV of Prussia
Frederick William IV of Prussia visited the Kahler Asten. At the time
it was planned to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Treaty of
Verdun by building an observation tower as a monument. This treaty
sealed the division of the
Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms:
East Francia and
Lotharingia and was seen as the
beginning of the separate development of the French and German
nations. During the 1848 year of revolutions the Asten tower was the
target of a demonstration for the aims of the March revolution and of
Plans for a monument were not taken any further, however, until 1881.
The foundation stone was laid on 22 June 1884 by the district
administrator, Federath, in the presence of numerous honoured guests.
In the same year the construction of a tower began. The 25-meter-high
skeleton fell victim to an autumn storm, however. Rumours of faulty
construction could not be proven in the subsequent legal action. By
1889 the district administrator was able to persuade private donors
and the Westphalian provincial association to provide the means to
rebuild the tower. It was opened in 1895.
Since 1900 the tower has been an official monument of the Province of
Westphalia. Since 1918 the tower has also been a weather station.
The first renovations were needed in 1923 as a result of
weather-induced metal fatigue. At the same time, the restaurant was
built. New modification plans were started in 1930 and implemented in
1937. During the
Second World War
Second World War the tower was almost completely
destroyed by a direct hit from artillery. The repair of war damage was
not completed until 1955. In 1967 the damaged slate sheathing had to
be replaced by copper. In 1995 an exhibition room was added. In 2004
ownership of the tower passed to Westphalia-Lippe Property Management,
a subsidiary of the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Council
(Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe). A thorough renovation and
refurbishment was then carried out by December 2005.
After its restoration the hotel-restaurant opened its doors again in
December 2005 and the Astenturm itself was re-opened on 20 March 2006.
It now has a self-service area, a restaurant area and 17 double rooms
with 34 beds.
Exhibition on the mountain
Since October 2008 visitors can learn more about the mountain at its
summit through an exhibition called the
Kahler Asten - the roof of
Westphalia. The central themes of the exhibition are the nature
reserve with its mountain heath, the weather station and the history
of the Asten tower. In addition clips of amateur film from past
decades are shown.
Kahler Asten and the surrounding area, with its sister mountains,
out to about 40 kilometres is one of the most well-known winter sport
regions in the German
Central Uplands due to its good snow conditions.
Kahler Asten itself is part of the ski lift complex known as the
List of mountains and hills in North Rhine-Westphalia
^ a b Schluka (2006), p 56.
^ Geoklima 2.1
^ Schluka (2006), p. 57.
Sluka, Klaudia (2006). Einfach Spitze. Westfalen Spiegel, Feb 2006.
(pdf, 214 kB)
Hochsauerlandkreis – Untere Landschaftsbehörde: Landschaftsplan
Winterberg. Meschede 2008, p. 100
Neueröffnung des Astenturms am 20. März 2006. In: Sauerland. 2/2006
Website of the mountain restaurant in the Asten tower
Report on the Asten tower in the Westfalenspiegel
website of the RAF in Wi