A Danish Outdoor Adventure Group Production
In august 2011, we decided to start summiting the highest mountains of each country in Europe. As we had already done the Mount Blanc and several others, we agreed upon Austria and Germany.
The Zugspitze Climb:
The Zugspitze, at 2,962 metres above sea level, is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains as well as the highest mountain in Germany. It lies south of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the border between Germany and Austria runs over its western summit.
The ascent starts in Hammersbach (758 m or 2,487 ft) through the Höllental along the Hammersbach stream. The path runs through the Höllental Gorge (Höllentalklamm) and was built from 1902 to 1905. Twelve tunnels were driven in the rock of the 1,026 metre long gorge with a total length of 288 metres. Another 569 metres of path was dynamited into the rock in the shape of a half profile, whilst 120 metres was led over footbridges and 49 metres over scree. The gorge can also be circumnavigated over the Stangensteig path. After the gorge the route heads for the Höllentalanger Hut (1,381 m or 4,531 ft), after which it crosses the Höllentalanger stream. Above that the Brett is crossed on steel pins fixed to a rock face. Crossing the Grünen Buckel the trail runs up to the Höllentalferner glacier. The glacier is mostly snow-free in summer so that crampons are required to cross it. Even more difficult is the randkluft because the ice retreats further and further from the rock as it melts. After the glacier there is a klettersteig to the summit of the Zugspitze. This route climbs through a height of 2,204 m (7,231 ft), for which between seven and eight hours are needed. There is also the option of getting to the Höllental route on the Riffelsteig path from Eibsee. This path crosses the Riffelscharte wind gap and meets the route before the Brett.
An excellent long day with an overnight stay on top of the mountain on a lonely snowpatch just 20 m left of the top. Next day we hiked down the Austrian side.
Two days later we attempted the Grossglockner:
The Grossglockner is, at 3,798 m. (12 460 ft.) above sea level, Austria's highest mountain and the highest mountain in the Alps east of the Brenner Pass. This makes it, after Mont Blanc, the second most prominent mountain in the Alps, when measured by relative height.
We agreed upon climbing the normal route.
The easiest and most common route is from Erzherzog-Johann-hut: PD, glacier 35°, UIAA II.
The Grossglockner is one of the "to do"-mountains, like Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, which many non-alpinists want to climb once in a lifetime. So it is often noticed that unexperienced and under-equipped people try to climb it. The normal route is more difficult than many other major mountains of the alps. From the Erzherzog-Johann-hut you have to cope with a 35-40 degree steep slope (pure ice in later summer) and with an exposed ridge rated UIAA II. If you are an inexperienced alpinist, carrying a rope with the ability to handle it, is a must. The rope should also be used for crossing the glaciers to the Erzherzog Johann hut from Stuedl hut or Franz-Josefs-Hoehe. Some have already fallen to their death because of crevasses!
The route starts from the Luckner-Haus (1918 m) and continues up to Stuedl hut (2802 m). From the Stuedl hut to the Erzherzog-Johann hut (3454 m) it takes 3 hours: A marked path passing a big cairn to the Koednitz glacier. Then crossing the Koednitz glacier (rope and crampons recommended because of crevasses), then a steep but not difficult scramble (UIAA I, cables) to the Erzherzog-Johann hut.
We booked an overnight stay at the hut and had spaghetti bolognese. Nice and warm. Early next morning, around 4.30 am, we got up. Had some breakfast and started climbing to the summit and all the way down to Luckner-Haus at 1918 m. We also experienced a mountain rescue by helicopter from the summit.
Gil Nielsen & Kenneth Andreasen
Danish Outdoor Adventure Group