Scaling the Zugspitze

Scaling the Zugspitze

by Heather Ann Cosimo
Stripes Europe

In the depths of Bavaria you will find Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Towering almost 10,000 feet (2,962m), the summit and straddles the German-Austrian border. You could say the Zugspitze has dual citizenship. On the German side, home base is considered Grainau which is part of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district. Ehrwald, in the Tirol district, lies on the Austrian side. Perhaps one of the easiest border crossings you will encounter is at the peak. A walkway connecting Germany and Austria offers a convenient passageway, complete with a “Herzlich Willkommen in Tirol” sign. 

Skiers and non-skiers alike can relish breathtaking views from the top platform. On a clear day it is possible to see over 400 Austrian, German, Italian and Swiss peaks. Focusing on the height, at the apex you will find Germany’s highest chapel, Internet terminal and conference facilities; thus enabling you to get hitched, send an email or network on the top. A weather station is also located at the summit.

Snow is plentiful for snowboarders and skiers on the Zugspitzplatt, 300 meters below the summit. The glacier ski area ensures white powder for around seven months, starting at the end of October. Beginners will feel comfortable on the shorter runs while advanced skiers have the choice of lengthier stretches and higher altitudes. You can rent equipment at the Valley Station of the Eibsee cable car or on the Zugspitzplatt in the basement of Sonn Alpin.

When it is time to warm up, head inside to one of the mountain restaurants. The Sonn Alpin complete with sun deck and glacier bar can be found on the Zugspitzplatt. Indulge in a snack at the Panorama Lounge; the hot chocolate itself is worth the trek. Glacier Garden and Summit Lodge Gipfelalm both dish out Bavarian fare. 

You can reach the summit by hiking, cable car or cogwheel train. Lake Eibsee rests at the foot of the Zugsptize and parking is nearby, if arriving by car. From this base you have the choice of taking a cogwheel train or cable car. Inside the Zugspitzebahn building is the entrance to the Eibsee-Seilbahn cable car. In ten minutes, you will be whisked to the top.  

The cogwheel train from Eibsee barrels up the mountain through a tunnel. Transfer at the Zugspitzeplatt glacier to the glacier cable car for the remainder of your ascent. The train trip takes around 40 minutes from Eibsee. Other train stops are available if you leave your car behind.  Beginning in Garmisch, the Zugsptize station is located behind the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hauptbahnhof, running through Grainau and Eibsee. The closest station to Edelweiss Lodge & Resort is Kruezeck/Alpspitze.   

A tour on the cogwheel train, glacier cable car and Eibsee cable car is 39 Euro per adult, 29.50 Euro for youth. Lift ticket rates for skiers vary depending on type and duration. Make sure you ask about special rates such as family discounts, group rates and German railways discounts.

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