The 5 Routes To The Summit Of The Zugspitze

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

As I wrote in my previous blog (Everything You Need To Know About The Highest Mountain In Germany – The Zugspitze) there are three available cable car routes to the Summit although if you’re on my site, 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.


1. The Eisbsee-Seilbahn Cable Car to and from Eibsee

2. Zahnradbahn and the Glacier Cable Car to and from the train station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

3. 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 Car Routes, there are actually 5 other routes you can take to reach the Summit:

  • Route A: Reintal (Rein Valley)

  • Route B: Ehrwalder Alp & Gatterl

  • Route C: Austrian Snow Cirque

  • Route D: Hollental (Devil’s Valley) (TECHNICAL ROUTE)

  • Route E: Jubilee Ridge (TECHNICAL ROUTE)


IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are considering either of the two technical routes then this is not the blog for you. I have some experience with technical climbs but I am definitely not yet experienced enough to advise other climbers about technical climbs.


If you are considering climbing the Zugspitze (which I hope you are!) then I recommend that you do it in the summer. Climbing during winter can turn even the 3 simplest routes into the most challenging, technical routes because of the weather. And even during the summer, always check the weather forecast before you leave.


Depending on how fast you are, you may want to consider booking a space at one of the huts. Rather take your time than rush up and rush down. All it takes is one wrong step to twist an ankle or fall. Majority of mountaineering injuries happen on the way down from a mountain so always make sure you have enough energy and concentration to make it back down again.


Remember, the other option is to take a cable car back down!


Route A: Reintal (Rein Valley)

Distance: 21km

Duration: 8 to 10 hours

Ascent: 2,300m


Of the three available routes for normal trekkers and climbers, this is by far the easies, with the starting point beginning at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you are newish to trekking and climbing then I would definitely recommend you take this route.

This is said to be the most scenic route to the summit. This route takes you through a narrow canyon and then along a crystal clear river. You’ll then find yourself passing Bock Hutte, where the trail begins to climb and get rockier. After that you’re next marker is a waterfall, from there the Reintalanger Hutte is about 0.75km away. It’s a ncie place to stop for a meal and drink.


After the Hutte, the real climb starts. The trail becomes quite steep and rocky. After sometime, you will reach Knorrhutte. This is the best hut to stay at if you planned on spreading the climb out into 2 days.


As soon as you pass the Hutte, the trail begins to climb. You’ll pass the cable car, a rocky path where you can touch the Austrian side and then finally up to the summit which you’ll more than likely be sharing with a load of tourists who took the cable car option to the top.


Route B: Ehrwalder Alp & Gatterl

Distance: 14km

Duration: 7 to 8 hours

Ascent: 2,100m


Although this is a shorter distance with less of an ascent, this route is definitely a step up from the Reintal Route. The starting point is from Ehrwald cable car station. You will pass meadows and begin to feel the path steadily steepen. Keep going until you reach a point where the trail splits for the Steinernes Huttl. You can take the left trail towards the Gatterl. The trail will take you over rough scree and potentially over snowfields depending on the weather from the previous winter and the up to Knorr Hut. You can either stay the night there or continue your climb.


The trail is pretty gentle from there as you cross over to the Zugspitzplatt, from there follow the clearly marked path and then up towards the summit.


Route C: Austrian Snow Cirque

Distance: 8km from Eibsee or 5km from Ehrwald

Duration: 8 hours

Ascent: 2,015m from Eibsee and 1,735m from Ehrwald


This is another step up from the Reintal and Ehrwalder Alp & Gatterl routes. You can start the route either at Eibsee or Ehrwald. It is classified as difficult and I would only really recommend it to an experienced or confident trekker and climber.


Depending on your starting point (either Eibsee or Ehrwald) you will find this route both challenging and rewarding as there tends to be less people on it simply because it is the harder route of the three non technical routes. Both ways are well marked and well trodden. There is a lot of loose scree so make sure you watch your footsteps. If you plan to stay a night in a Hut then book in with the Knorrhutte as it is on both trails.


Although this is not classified as a technical route, you must be careful and be aware of potential rock fall over ‘Stopselzieher’. If you are concerned about this, make sure you pack a helmet for this specific section.

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