The Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany (2963m), with skiing nearly year round. The routes are many and diverse. You will likely cross snowfields (were glaciers before global warming), scree at steep angles, and if you are lucky a herd of Gämse (Mountain goat of the Alps.) The mountain and its peak stations are shared by Germany and Austria, both countries having cable cars that a railpass may admit one if you call ahead. Otherwise it is 24 Euros each way from the German side. The peak is well hidden by other peaks and precipices, lending a sort of mystique and curiosity about timing the summit. It also remains technical through mid-late june, mountaineers are more plentiful above the Höllentalangerhütte between July and August.
FA: 1820 by G. Deutschl, Maier and J. Naus
NAME: Zugspitze literally translates as tip of the track (train), which may have originated from early geographical surveys in 1656. Those geographers who coined the term may have either been referring to the avalanche track remnants left by stones and Geröll from the side of the Zugspitze massif, or to the fact that a train could not pass the mountain. Either way the name remained which became more fitting when cable "trains" were added to the tip for tourism.
CROSS: Since 1851 a cross has stood on the summit. Likely due to the driving force of strict Catholic clergey who wanted the closest point to heaven in Germany to be guarded by something holy. The cross that stands today is the fourth installment, the first having sustained lightning damage - 1882, the second after spending 111 years on the summit, had finally surrendered to the American soldier who had shot it after WWII - third installment - 1993, and the third was just renovated in 2009, newly guilded - fourth.
TRAIN: From Munich, Trains to Garmisch run nearly every hour from platforms 27-36, which are somewhat hidden (if facing trains from street, go right to end of trains, then left all the way down to the end, there you have the odd tracks). Once in Garmisch, the Zugspitzbahn station is underneath and just to the west of the DB station (out the back). AUTO: From Munich, go South on the A95 to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Go through town on the 23/Zugspitzstrasse (West), at a bend in the river, just west of town, Zugspitzstrasse (Smoltzstrasse) cuts left (south), take this to Hammersbach, Park and hike.
Höllental translates as valley of hell, you decide how heavenly this valley is. Route is most pleasant in two days, but can be realistically done in one (6-10 hrs) to the summit and take the tram down. If you miss the last tram at 4pm, you may be able to get a room at the Münchnerhaus (DAV), otherwise you would have to be real to hike back down the same day, but if you do, you have options (see OPTIONS below).Once you are in the valley from Hammersbach, follow the main trail to the Höllentalan...[more]Browse More Classics in International