Coming from England, where the highest peak is 918 m, it was a shock to regularly hike to 2000 peaks with my Bavarian friend.
And then I decided to climb Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro.
Obviously I had to raise the stakes while hiking and decided to Try out Germany’s highest mountain – the Zugspitze, on the border with Austria.
It was tough, but I made it alive and I’m here to tell you all about my hiking experience on the Zugspitze.
Related read: Trekking essentials to take with you when trekking
On a warm Saturday morning in May, three friends and I drove to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the venue for the 1936 Olympic Games. Even today, Alpine World Ski Championships are held regularly in the area.
Art from the 1936 Olympics, the area is best known for its beauty Partnach Gorge, 702 meters long and over 80 meters deep. It’s good that the Reital route hike to the Zugspitze begins here and what a start.
Nothing prepares you for the roaring rush of water that surrounds you as you enter the gorge. It’s dark, damp and wild and at the same time breathtakingly beautiful. When the sun catches the rocks properly, there are perfect rainbows. But hey, we weren’t on a sightseeing tour, we were here for hiking.
Take a look at our winter guide to the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena in Austria.
Forward and up, people.
On the other side of the Partnach Gorge, we found families picnicking by the mountain stream in a mild breeze and sun. A pretty big part of me thought, „Let’s look at this, let’s have a picnic too,” but
a) I only had energy bars with me and
b) I really wanted to reach the highest point in Germany before my Kilimanjaro trip.
We had six hours left to hike and I can honestly say it was that most breathtaking landscape that I have ever experienced.
I had hiked a lot in the German and Austrian Alps before hiking the Zugspitze, but the fantastic weather combined with the blooming spring flowers and (surprisingly) rolling hills made the experience very enjoyable. As the afternoon drew to a close, we reached the Reintalangerhütte, our place to stay for the night.
A quick beer before sunset filled our energy and we played cards until dinner – when I ate a huge serving of roast pork. And then there were more cards and hot chocolate right into bed.
In Germany, the dormitories are not separated by beds. Oh no, it comes with a huge mattress that can sleep up to twenty people. Of course there was a snorer in our dormitory, and I barely got an hour’s sleep.
The second day of the Zugspitze hike
I was grumpy at breakfast, but it was so hearty and filling that it perked me up quickly. Besides, the sun was still shining. As we continued to climb, we were told to be careful as there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground. Day two should be a lot harder, I noticed that after half an hour, than yesterday’s “rolling slopes” turned into steep, powder-covered cliffs.
At eleven we had a soup and a wheat beer.
It was cold and we had hiked over a lot of snow. We played with a couple of Jack Russells for a while and then decided to keep going – we wanted to take the last train down the mountain at 4pm and had to get to the top in time.
Here everyone began to fight – the group split up.
The snow was deep and I was grateful that I was wearing gaiters. The summit was in sight for a long time. It was frustrating, the effort of hiking through the deep snow meant I couldn’t get there quickly.
I was finally there. I could have cried, I was devastated.
I kind of cut my foot, my hands were blistered from my walking sticks, and I needed a plate of chips.
Germany’s highest peak – Tick.
Find out more about the Zugspitze hike Here.