Ascent of Zugspitze on 1993-08-07

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, August 7, 1993
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:9718 ft / 2962 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today I climbed the Zugspitze, highest peak in all of Germany at 2962 meters (9716 feet). The mountain lies on the border of Germany and Austria, and I climbed it from the Austrian side, parking my car in Ehrwald at a tram base station. Although not a snowy or icy peak, it is very steep, and the trail I took climbed up sheer cliffs with the aid of cables, ladders, and metal spikes driven into the monolithic gray rock. Also, it was a 5688 vertical foot hike, a long day by any standards.

Zugspitze means "train peak" in German, and several cable cars and underground trains took millions of tourists to the summit, which featured a restaurant, bar, observation tower, souvenir shop, and giant cranes working on constructing various additions. It was utterly mobbed on this nice day, a few morning clouds lingering as a layer at about 2000 meters the only flaw. Even the very summit, reachable only after walking though an under-construction building, was overrun with people. The trails, though, hadn't been too crowded at all.

While in the Zugspitze summit building I saw a plaque very similar to one I had seen in the hut near the summit of Triglav in Slovenia, and this time there was an English translation. Apparently the famous Indian guru Sri Chinmoy (most famous for having Carlos Santana as a disciple) had designated the seven highest summits of the seven countries sharing the Alps (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, and Italy) as holy spiritual peace mountains, and had very recently dedicated seven plaques to announce this christening. People who climb all seven are even entitled to a special Sri Chinmoy peace medal.

I had already done three of the seven and was on my way to do the next four, and, since the plaques had been put up only a month ago, it was entirely possible that I was about to become the first person to become eligible for this medal since the christening. I never did anything about this, though, for two reasons. First, I don't know what Sri Chinmoy regards as the highest summit in Italy (a controversial issue) and I may not have gotten to whatever it is. Second, this seemed like a silly list.

Anyway, I hiked down the lower part of the mountain on a different, longer route than the one I ascended, and seeing a parapenter jumping off into space from a craggy pinnacle halfway down was interesting. Very tired after my long hike, I returned to the youth hostel in Reutte, Austria, and hung out, after a stop at a Spar supermarket to buy dinner.

In 1993 the summit area of the Zugspitze was a mess of construction (1993-08-07).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5690 ft / 1734 m
    Trailhead:4028 ft / 1227 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear

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