Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany. It's a beautiful and impressive mountain when you look at it from below.
There are several alternatives available to get to the top. The easiest way is to get one of the cable cars. There is one leaving from Germany (Cable Car Zugspitze) and another one leaving from the Austrian side (Tiroler Zugspitzbahn).
For hiking to the top there are also several routes that take you to the top. The track described here follows the route that starts from the Ehrwalder Almbahn parking in Ehrwald (Austria). Ehrwalder Almbahn is another cable car but this one doesn't take you to the top. It is a short one that takes you up to skiing slopes.
This is a very long track, almost 30 Km, with a total elevation gain of above 2000 meters so you better get prepared for that.
The route can be divided into 4 parts. It's actually easy to identify the four parts in the elevation chart next to the map.
The first part is from the beginning up to a col (Waypoint named Col). It is about 7 Km of constant climb walking among trees and green slopes where we gain half of the total elevation gain of the route.
The second part is about 3 Km long and goes from the col to the Knorr hut on the German side. It has a bit of up and downs but in general is more or less flat. First we will traverse a couple of small valleys to get to the Austrian - German border where you will find a fence with a little door that is open. From here you can already spot the Knowrr hut quite far in the distance and getting there is fairly easy. Halfway you will pass another small hut that we found closed.
The third part is another 3 Km long and takes you from the Knorr hut to the ridge where a safety cable is installed. This part here is quite tough. We keep gaining elevation quickly walking inside a very dry and rocky area. The worst are the last 300 meters where we find very loose stones. It is quite frustrating because for every two steps you take you slip down one and at this point you are already feeling tired. The start of this part is marked with a waypoint named Loose rocks area starts.
The fourth part is for the last kilometre or so of ridge that takes us to the summit. All along the ridge there are sections of steel cable installed for our safety. You can clip yourself on to the cable, I didn't feel the need for it, but the best is that the cable is showing you the way to go up so you cannot get lost :-).
The ridge takes us to the cable car station where we can find shops and restaurants. From here we can see the summit with the cross just a few meters from the safe area where we are.
There is one last thing to do. We need to get down the stairs to access a gate that will get us back to the summit ridge on the other side. From here to the real summit is only about 40 or 50 meters but you need to be a bit careful. Firstly because there are lots of people who want to do this part (even people that came with the cable car, some of them looking like they have never been in a mountain) and secondly because it is quite steep and could be indeed dangerous. To start with we encounter an iron ladder that lead us to a small flat area where some of the tourists decide to stay and not proceed further. We make a right, here I decided to clip myself on to the safety cable, and after just a few short meters we are finally at the top of the Zugspitze.
Enjoy the beautiful and well-deserved views!
Is it difficult this last part? No, but be extra careful. And my recommendation is to wear via ferrata climbing gear to clip yourself to the safety cable. As an example the one I use.
For the way back we follow exactly the same route as to come up.
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