Ascending the Zugspitze via the Höllental
We left Munich at 5.30am on Saturday morning and arrived at Grainau, a small village near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After parking the car in a no-parking-zone we started the route at 6:45am. At the beginning, the trails ascends through forest and soon enters the Höllentalklamm, a narrow gorge. At the entrance of the gorge there is a hut, the Höllentaleingangshütte, where one can eat and also has to pay 1 Euro entrance fee. The gorge is pretty cool, with lots of waterfalls. To make it accessible, tunnels have been blasted through the rock and a few steal bridges have been installed (there are removed each winter). In the gorge, water (and a few rocks) come from above and one is well advised to wear rain gear even on a sunny day such as this one.
At the end of the gorge the valley widens and soon we reached the Höllentalangerhütte where we had a quick breakfast. The trail continues toward the "ladder" and "Brett", where it turns into a via ferrata. The "Brett" is a steep rock slope that one traverses on steel pins. Next we passed over a snow field toward the Höllentalferner, a permanent snow field, that does spot a few cracks. After crossing the bergschrund around 12:15pm we reached the final part, a via ferrata that leads up to the summit. As I said, there was still a lot of snow on the route and we belayed a few times when the steal cables where buried in the snow. This was a nice day and so the sun was pondering the steep parts which caused a series of small avalanches to rumble down the rock wall. There where no avalanches were we where, they were mostly on a rock section where the route would cross just before reaching the summit. Upon closer inspection, we could see that these avalanches where triggered by climbers crossing snowfields high up in the wall. One could observe how they got bigger and bigger, sweeping ice chunks and rocks down to the Höllentalferner. It was cool to watch and made a lot of noise but it also made us feel a bit timid:
Well, we pressed on, went past the Irmerscharte and reached the summit just after 16:30pm. We had taken our time on this climb because it is a bit demanding, with over 2000 m (6000 ft) of elevation gain. We had been warned that our last meters on the route would be watched by dozens of tourists snapping pictures. But when we arrived the summit was empty because the last cable car left the summit at 4:30 pm. Happily we checked in at the hut, had a good dinner and went to bed.
- Zugspitze via Höllental, day1