Ascent of Zugspitze on 2008-09-04

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
Date:Thursday, September 4, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:9718 ft / 2962 m

Ascent Trip Report

Zugspitze: 2963m, P1747m

Map: Freytag & Berndt 1:50k map WK322 (100m contours).

Stats: 7km, 1740mH

Time: Thur 4 Sept 2008.

Start: Ehrwald - Zugspitzbahn car park, W (Austrian) side of summit.

Route: In poor weather we simply took the Zugspitzbahn (a fancy cable car, c.32 Euro return). Our intention was to hike the mapped route: Trail 822 ascends SE from car park, joining Trail 801 which is then followed NE from 1637m. This crosses the cablecar route, passes the middle "station" at 2209m, the a via ferrata route climbs the W spur to join the main ridge 300m SW of the summit; a trail finally leads to the summit. We expected from the map that it would be possible to link with the cable car at the middle station, but from the video on show in the summit complex, this seems to be possible only by special arrangement.

Difficulties: Summit climb from the platform, involves 5m of scrambling on good rock with moderate exposure, metal holds and cable protection. From the Austrian side there is a via ferrata route, apparently of moderate difficulty. A mountain race ascends it: I would guess it is YDS 2+. If taking the Zugspitzbahn, as we did in poor weather, only the final summit climb remains. This can however be a little intimidating in wind and rain.

Summit: A mass of buildings. Of the original three closely spaced summits, the middle one is completely covered by the main structure and the W summit (bearing the trig point and the old Hut) is only just distinguishable from the main building. The east (higher) summit is accessible via a walkway and ladders and bears an ornate gold-coloured cross. The 1:50k map seems to suggest the W summit is 2961m and the E summit 2962.

Triangulation point: Typical concrete block on the west summit, immediatly next to an entrance on the Austrian side titled Wilkommen in Tirol. Its top surface bears the numbers 296 36. I found it by accident, by scrambling up to the first summit I came across after exiting the building.

Notes: Following yesterday's Birkkarspitze ascent, we spent the night at the car park, ready to make the Austrian ascent. However, Thursday dawned wet and windy - the first bad weather in 13 days. This was no day for a via ferrata ascent, we decided. After yesterday's 35km 12 hour day, we decided to take the cable car. We were on one of the first of the day, at 09:00 (it runs between 08:40 and 21:30) and at the summit in 10 minutes. Heading up through the big modern complex we finally emerged into (very) fresh air, on a raised platform, in thick mist. On emerging, seeing a summit on my left, I hopped over a low wall and scrambled up to a rocky summit rising 2m above roof level, finding a triangulation point (concrete block) at the summit, and several pieces of ironwork poking out of the rock. Not very inspiring; no view. Scrambling down again, I found Andrew, who pointed out a large sign a few metres away proclaiming Das ist der Gipfel. And so it was, a rocky pinnacle rearing up a few metres into the mist. Decidedly unpleasant conditions but we opened a gate, descended a metal stairway, crossed a walkway to the rock, then using rungs and protective cables (very welcome in the strong wind) made our way to the summit, trying to look cheerful for the photographs.

Job done, we took plenty of time to get breakfast, look around the exhibition, view the excellent video (from which we learn among other things, that there is a race to the summit from the Austrian side). Heading back to the summit area later, there is a view of sorts, under the low cloud, to a few nearby jagged ridges. We are down by 11:55 - not quite the Zugspitze experience we were looking for, but I can think of worse ways of spending a morning. I expect I'll be back for a proper ascent - maybe for the race!

Having done our bit for Austrian tourism, we head off to find a mountain to climb! - Kramer Spitze

Zugspitze Race: Writing this report sometime later, I learn that 2 people died in a snowstorm on the most recent running of this event, 14 July 2008. Some years, it seems, the race finishes at SonnAlpin (2580m). Start is Ehrwald, Martinsplatz. Entry (for the 24 July 2009 race) costs 49 Euros. For details of the Zugspitze Extremberglauf (or to enter!) see or for information in English, see e.g.

For trip details and logistics, see the Säntis report
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5719 ft / 1743 m
    Extra Gain:10 ft / 3 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.4 mi / 7.1 km
    Trailhead:Ehrwald: Zugspitzbahn  4019 ft / 1224 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Drizzle, Cold, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Time:10 Minutes

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