5 routes up to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak

During my research for our Germany trip to Bavaria in summer 2015, I looked through a lot of German websites reading about the routes up to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak (2962m). But it seemed that very few pages have an English version, that’s why I’m gonna give you a quick overview about the 5 main routes up to the summit of Zugspitze.

Routes to the summit of Zugspitze

routes summit zugspitze germany's highest peak

Source: alpenverein.de

Route A: Reintal (Rein Valley)

Starting point: Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Distance: 21 km
Time to ascend: 8-10hrs
Difficulty: simple
Ascent: 2300 m
Technical climbing: no
What you need to know: Be careful if it’s foggy on Zuspitzplatt. If you’re exhausted at Sonn-Alpin, take the cable car to the summit. Be aware of snow fields at the edge of the summit.

Route B: Ehrwalder Alp and Gatterl

Starting point: Ehrwald
Distance: 14 km
Time to ascend: 7-8 hrs
Difficulty: simple to medium
Ascent:  2100 m
(Reintal + Ehrwalder Alp and Gatterl = joined route from Knorrhütte (Knorr hut))
Technical climbing: no
What you need to know: Be careful if it’s foggy on Zuspitzplatt. If you’re exhausted at Sonn-Alpin, take the cable car to the summit. Be aware of snow fields at the ‘Gatterl’ and the edge of the summit. The walk can be shorten with the Ehrwalder Almbahn (cable car).

Route C: Austrian Snow Cirque

Starting point: Eibsee or Ehrwald
Distance: 8 and 5km , respectively
Time to ascend: 8 hrs
Difficulty: medium to difficult
Ascent: 2015m and 1735m, respectively
Technical climbing: no
What you need to know: Danger of falling rocks over ‘Stopselzieher’ through hikers ahead. Ascent with little sunshine.

Route D: Höllental (Devil’s Valley)

Starting point: Hammersbach
Distance: 9 km
Time to ascend: approx. 10hrs
Difficulty: difficult
Ascent: 2200m
Technical climbing: yes. Climbing equipment, helmet and harness necessary. Also crampons for crossing the glacier.
What you need to know: Use crampons on glacier. Danger of falling into crevasses when moving offside the trail of the glacier. Be aware of traffic jams at ‘Randkluft’ (Start early!).

Route E: Jubilee Ridge

Starting point: Ostfelderkopf
Distance: 8 and 5km , respectively
Time to ascend: approx. 10hrs
Difficulty: difficult (including alpine route)
Ascent: 2015m and 1735m, respectively
Technical climbing: yes. Climbing equipment, helmet and harness necessary.
What you need to know: Due to length of ridge excellent stamina necessary. In summer often risk of thunderstorms. No possibility to refill water between Zugspitze and Alpspitz.

Whatever route to Zugspitze summit you choose, make sure you start early and have enough time to descend or to take the cable car down. The last cable car, dependant on the town you go back to, is between 4:45pm and 5:45pm in summer, and between 4:15pm and 4:45pm in winter (check your local cable car operator).

Is there anything else about routes up to Zugspitze you want to know? Please leave a comment in the section below and help to make this article even more helpful for other readers.

(If you want to know more about Zugspitze, read 10 facts about Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak.)

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22 Responses to 5 routes up to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak

  1. Paul S. says:

    Adding comments on my experience in the hope it helps people. 😉
    A friend and I ascended following route D in late September about 7 years ago. Beautiful weather and there had been no inclement conditions prior to our chosen day. Stupidly, we only had one pair of crampons between us, but we needed them to cross the glacier. That held us up as it was fairly icy (there were only about 200m to traverse, but they were tortuous with only one crampon).
    We started at about 6am from Hammersbach and summited at about 2:15pm, with about 1 hour for a break at the Höllentalangerhütte and at the glacier. However, I’d claim that we were very fast but both of us were pretty fit and experienced, so I wouldn’t regard that time as being standard.
    The passage through the gorge (Klamm) is beautiful. The first via ferrata (Klettersteig) is not for the faint of heart – it’s a sheer 80m drop crossing on iron pegs hammered into the rock. After some “standard” hiking the route then becomes quite tiring when crossing on loose rock and shale. Then it’s time to put on the crampons to cross the glacier.
    The final stretch is to ascend the ridge, which takes about two hours, if my memory serves me right. I found that quite exhausting as the continuous stream of climbers means you don’t get time to relax. Despite the good weather, attaching your safety rope in the ever-present ice when tired is relatively demanding. The view overlooking the Eibsee is fantastic, even if you don’t get time to stop and enjoy it at leisure.
    And then you’re at the summit – along with lots of tourists who’ve taken the cable car up and have scaled a two-metre ladder to get to the summit in their casual footwear!
    I intend doing the “easy” Gatterl route in October with friends with little alpine experience, but there have already been some heavy snowfalls, so looking at the webcam closer to the time will be critical.
    HTH

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritesh says:

    Hi, myself Ritesh from India presently in Germany for business needs. I’m planning to go to this mountain this weekend n was planning to take Devils path, but my colleague told me not to take that path without a guide. I’m unable to find a guide for this tour. Is there any 1 you know abt? And what are the things we need to carry while trekking this particular mountain I mean eatables etc etc. Thanks in advance.

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  3. Liam Brown says:

    Hi. Is climbing from route D Devils valley possible in March? Thanks

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  4. Karin Johnson says:

    Hello Stef,
    Thanks for all your help and efforts on this blog.
    Can we take Route A and stop at a guest house about 4 hours in, stay overnight and do the balance the next day?

    Danke, Karin

    Like

  5. Gary says:

    This is awesome information, thanks for taking the time to share it. In your opinion, which route or two is the most scenic on the ascent?

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  6. jeff says:

    hi. my girlfriend and i like to hike. we’ve done 15 mile out and back trails like half dome in yosemite, and mount washington in new hampshire. we don’t have any climbing gear, but want a challenging day hike. like up to 10 miles to get to summit, and then take cable car down? or gondola? which trail shall we use, and we would be sleeping in munich?

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  7. Pingback: Zugspitze – Photo y Note

  8. Stef says:

    8-10hs for the Garmisch route is the ascend. You can comfortably take the cable car down, however I’d recommend to start as early as possible. Also check when the last cable car to Garmisch is.

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  9. joker5064 says:

    Hello! Thank you for the post it was very helpful picking a route. My question is the Garmisch route. You say it takes 8-10 hours to summit Zugspitz but all others I have spoken to say it will take 12-16 hours. I want to hike this weekend but only have one day to summit and take the cable car down. I would very much like to take the Garmisch route. Can it be done in 8-10hours like you say? Thank you!

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  10. Stef says:

    Hi Caitlin,
    thank you for your questions. I’ll do my best to answer: Routes A and B don’t require climbing equipment. However, I would pack crampons, especially when you climb Zugspitze in November. There is snow up there all year round and walking with crampons makes climbing much more comfortable and less exhausting. Definitely check the weather at least 1-2 weeks before you want to climb. If they have constant snowfall up there for weeks and weeks the staff and mountain guides working in that area will probably against climbing it. That happened to us last summer when we planned our holiday around climbin Zugspitze and it was raining down in the valley for weeks and weeks. Eventually we couldn’t climb it which was very disappointing but the safest thing to do.
    You probably need to start walking at 5am or 6am in the morning to make it to the summit in time and get the last cable car to get off the mountain before sunset. Check with the local tour and cable car operators for timing and if it’s safe to climb. They’ll know.
    I hope this helped.
    All the best and have a fantastic time.
    Stef

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  11. Stef says:

    Hi Harry,
    thank you for your comment.
    The Ehrwald route doesn’t require technical climbing experience. Normal hiking equipment is just fine. The via ferrata is via Höllental. So you’ll fine with your hiking experience on the route you chose. And yes, there are cable cars down to the valleys again. (Check the local cable car operators for the last cable car down from the summit.)

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  12. Caitlin says:

    Hello, thank you for this post!
    My husband and I are planning on going in early November to hike to the top. Would routes A and B require climbing equipment? One of the worries is the weather during that time and ice on the routes as well as avalanches. Is Reintal relatively safe/require climbing gear or just normal hiking apparel? Our plan is to hike it all in one day and cable car down. Also, at the very peak I know is a very steep climb..any idea how hard this would be in winter?.do they close it off if there is bad weather
    Thank you for your help
    Caitlin

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  13. Harry Edelman says:

    Hello Stef, thank you so much for posting this information. I think like most english speakers, i am having trouble understanding what i about to get into.

    My girlfriend and I were planning for later this month to hike the mountain. I would like to do the Ehrwalder Alp and Gatterl route. What i am unclear about is if climbing gear is neccissary or not. We are pretty experienced hikers but have very limited climbing experience. I have read that zugspitze has some via ferra routes along it. Do you know if that is on the Ehrwalder route? I believe i see on the map that their is a bahn if once we get up there we would just like to take it down.b

    Thank you for you help!

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  14. Stef says:

    Hi Michiel,
    thanks so much for your comments and questions.

    For the D route via Höllental you definitely need full climbing equipment (helmet, harness, etc) as it would be too dangerous to go without. Have a look here for a detailed report and pictures: http://www.ckemp.com/zugspitze/. If you don’t have any experiences in this kind of climbing, try a tour operator. You need to book well in advance though because the groups are small and the service in high demand.
    You also need crampons for this route.
    I hope this was helpful.
    Let me know how you get on with your tour in September!

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  15. Michiel Stevens says:

    FYI, I was talking about route D!

    I read somewhere that crampons are necessary when the glacier is pure ice. How likely is this in September? Also: the 10 hours you speak of, is the descent included? And is the descent on foot? Or do you rather recommend the cable car?

    Thanks again!
    Michiel

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi Stef

    How kind of you to enlist all of these possibilities. I am planning on climbing the mountain myself in September. However, what i found to be unclear on the web is whether or not this climb requires climbing gear/experience (like for klettersteig and stuff). ‘Cause for the moment I’ve only got my hiking gear/experience, and I wondered whether that was enough?

    Thanks in advance
    Michiel

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Stef says:

    Hi Eleanor, thanks for commenting.
    Yes, Zugspitze is doable within 1 day. However, start as early as possible, maybe around 7am or even earlier.
    The easiest route is via Reintal. But if you’re fit and experienced hikers I’d suggest via Hoellentalklamm (Hoellental Gorge). It’s just beautiful and a fantastic route!
    Hope that helps.
    Stef

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  18. Eleanor says:

    Hello, thanks for taking the time to help out fellow hikers going to Bavaria. We are planning to travel there in mid -August this year. Our travels were quite spontaneous, however, and we have not had much time to plan ahead and all the huts on the way up are booked. In you experience is it do-able in one day? We are very fit and do a lot of hiking/ walking as standard. Any sdvice you could give us about the ease or difficulty of route and how to navigate would be greatly appreciated.

    All the best,
    Eleanor Beal.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Stef says:

    Hi Jim, thanks for reading :).
    We used this map: ‘Kompass No. 25 – Zugspitze + Mieminger Kette incl. Ehrwald, Lermoos, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Reutte’.
    It’s got all routes to Zugspitze on it.

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  20. Jim says:

    Great info regarding the five routes. Nearest I’ve been is over by Mittenwald. Do you know what the best maps for the Zugspitz area are ?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. litadoolan says:

    I love the ordered way you can organise your hike. I love walking and rambling and so often join groups to do his and always admire the person in front with the map and the compass. Bravo. It’s inspiring to look at the way you interpret the mountain. I hope the hikes are terrific.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Pingback: 10 Facts about Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak | Hiking Madness – Hiking in UK and elsewhere

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