Zugspitze: From Garmisch through the Reintal onto Germany’s highest peak

The hike through the Reintal at a glance:

Altitude difference: 2200Hm

Duration: 8½– 11hours, depending on the number of breaks and your tempo.

Equipment: normal hiking gear for a mountaintrip, trekkingpoles are recommended

Town: Garmisch-Partenkirchen (708 m)

Starting point: Olympia-Skistadion in Partenkirchen (725 m), accessible with the local bus line 1 and 2.

Public transportation: railway connection from München or Innsbruck.

Best time of the year to walk the trekk: midsummer and early autumn.

Map: Map of walks in at least 1:50 000, which shows the “Wettersteingebirge”

Tourist office: Garmisch-Partenkirchen-Tourismus, Tel. 0 88 21/18 07 00, http://www.gapa.de

Huts: “Partnachalm” (983 m); “Reintalangerhütte” (1369 m), opened from May till mid October; “Knorrhütte” (2051 m), opened from May untill end of September or beginning of October and the “Münchner Haus” on the top of the Zugspitze itself (2959 m), opened from mid June untill mid October.

 Character/difficulties: It is an extreme long, but very beautiful, ascend on to the top of Germany’s highest mountain. Normally it would be better to stay for a night in one of the huts, because it is a very exhausting hike. If you want to save a little bit of time, you can also ride with a mountainbie to the Reintalangerhütte and begin there the ascend by foot.

Our Experience:

We took the train at 4.53 am in Munich to Garmisch Partenkirchen and there the local bus to the Skistadion, where our hike began at exactly 7.00 am.

We then took the trail throught the Pachtnachklamm which is one of the most stunning gorges I have ever seen, and which is definitely worth a second vistit, as we walked quite quickly through it.

The way up to the “Reintalangerhütte” is quite easy as the altitude difference over those first sixteen kilometers is just 650 meters. The path is wide and well maintained and the valley is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in the Alps.

We didn’t really have a pause until we reached the “Reintalangerhütte”, whereafter the first real ascend of the trek began.

We completed this part of the trek in 3 hours, which was already quite fast.

I will definitely go back there again to enjoy those beautiful landscapes with more time to spend at the “Reintalangerhütte”.

Our next stage was fron the “Reintalangerhütte” to the “Knorrhütte”, where we arrived at 12.30 and made a break before the third stage of the trek. The “Knorrhütte” is also the last place where you can refill your water bottles if you don’t want to make a detour to the “Sonnalpin” hut later on.

Unfortunately it started raining on the way to the “Knorrhütte” for 15 minutes and the rain was so cold, that I now have a bit of a sore throat. But immediately after that, the sun came out and the weahter was really nice for the rest of the day.

On the “Knorrhütte” I also realised, that my backpack was way to heavy. I had a longer pair of trousers with me, rain jacket, t-shirt and a hoodie because I knew that it coud be very cold and windy on the last ascend but it finally wasn’t at all. I also had my DSLR camera with me, which also wheights 1,5 kilos and with the 4 liters of water, the backpack was around 10kg.

The Zugspitze is generally known for its fast changing weather conditions and for that reason the weather announcements were really not useful, so I thought it would be good to be prepared.

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The third stage beginns with a steep ascend but flatens out a bit untill you reach the upper valley with the glacier and the “Sonnalpin” hut which lies on the left side and you can already see the Zugspitz station. It is here where you can choose whether to walk the rest of the trek up to the mountain top or take the cable car, if you feel too exhausted, or have blisters, etc.

The last part of the asend to the Zugspitze is then the most exhausting part of the trek and I needed about an hour and a half.

First you have to make your way through a steep debris field along the weather station and continue then on a mountain climbing track, where safety gear would be appropriate. It is possible to do it without but I woud not recommend that to anybody who already feels the exhaustion of the trek.

Finally after 9 and a half hours we finally stood on the mountain top and enjoyed our view over the border of Germany and Austria, which is unbelievably beautiful. We celebrated the fact that we safely made it to the mountain top with a beer and got ready for the return trip.

We then took the cable car back to the “Sonnalpin” station, where the “Zugspitzbahn” (a cog railway) leaves and took us back to the central station in Garmisch Partenkirchen.

The cog raillway is the only way to Garmisch, as the cable car from the Zugspitze to Garmsich is not in service this summer (2017) until December as they have torn it down to build a new one, it is a pretty impressive building site by the way.

In conclusion, I can say that we really enjoyed the hike despite the steep ascends and the challenging sections of the trek. If I ever do this one again, I would definately spend the night at the Knorrhütte and do the rest of the trek in the early morning of the second day to avoid the masses of tourists on the mountain top.

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