Everything You Need To Know About The Highest Mountain In Germany – The Zugspitze
Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Location: South Germany along the German and Austrian border
Distance: 42km from start to finish
Duration: Normally 2 days, with an overnight stay in an alpine hut before attempting the summit bid
Summit Altitude: 2,962m (9,718 feet)
Best Time Of Year To Climb: July to the beginning of September (depending on the snowfall that year)
How To Get There
On the German side, the nearest tourist resort is Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You can reach this little resort by car or by train. The trek starts at the Olympic Ski Jump stadium.
What You Need To Climb The Zugspitze
Trekking/mountaineering boots and crampons, depending on the route you are taking
35L day backpack
Sunglasses (category 3 is best)
Your first aid bag (Make sure to read this too - The 11 Essential Items That Should Be In Your Mountaineering & Trekking First Aid Bag)
Trekking poles (Not sure whether you actually need poles? Checkout this blog - Trekking Advice For Beginners - Are Trekking Poles Worth It?)
Camel pack/Nalgene bottles for 2 to 3L of water
Comfortable trekking clothing
Synthetic down jacket - I hear you, "whats synthetic down?" Read this to understand the crucial differences between down and synthetic down.
Goretex® jacket and trousers
Beanie and buff
Snacks and food for the climb
Thin sleeping bag
Cash (for extra food, water and the entrance fee)
Just so you are aware, there are three available cable cars to the Summit although if you have found yourself here, reading this blog, I’m going to make the assumption that you want to climb the Zugspitze and not take a cable car so I won’t spend too much time taking about the cable cars.
It is good to know that the option is available even if you are primarily interested in reaching the summit by foot because on the off chance that something were to happen and you needed to get down the mountain quickly, you’d know that there was a faster option than barrelling down a steep mountain slope.
The Eisbsee-Seilbahn Cable Car to and from Eibsee
Zahnradbahn and the Glacier Cable Car to and from the train station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
The Tiroler Zugspitzbahn to and from Obermoos, Austria. Please note, this is the only Austrian cable car, the other two both depart and arrive back in Germany.
Apart from the 3 cable cars, there are actually 5 routes that you can take to reach the Zugspitze summit. Please read this blog for a detailed description on each as well as a bit of extra advice that will help you to decide which route is best for you: The 5 Routes To The Summit Of The Zugspitze
Extra Tips & Tricks To Summit The Zugspitze
There are two places for you to stop and stay the night:
1. Hollentalangerhutte (1,379m)
Wiener Neustadter Hutter (2,209m)
The huts tend to be full and overcrowded during the climbing season so make sure you call ahead and do your best to reserve your space before it gets too full. You can book a private room for two but make sure you do this as soon as possible as they tend to be sold out. The other room type is a dorm, shared between six to 10 people and another room that is basically mattresses on the floor. If you have to sleep in the third option, try getting a space next to the wall.
Always make sure you check the weather conditions before starting your climb as well as checking the snowfall from the previous winter. There is seldom any need for crampons but on the off chance that the previous winter was particularly bad, there can be snow and ice on some of the routes.
The only unfortunate thing with climbing the Zugspitze is actually reaching the Summit. There tends to be A LOT of tourists who take the various cable cars up to the summit to enjoy the view, eat lunch and drink beer.
The normal euphoric solitude that you would expect to experience like on other summits is not there as you share the space with a load, busting crowd. But saying that provided you know and expect tourists at the summit then you are mentally prepared on what to expect. It is the journey after all that matters, and not the destination.