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Posts tagged ‘Garmisch-Partenkirchen’

Waxenstein, Wetterstein, Hammelsbacher Fussweg, Grainau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany,

Fotoeins Friday: “Pillars of society” (Grainau)

In winter, there’s always skiing and snowboarding in the Bavarian Alps, but a look here suggests that a walk in the fresh air (with that scenery) can also work wonders. Just outside Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the footpath Hammersbacher Fußweg stretches west to Hammersbach and Grainau with the Waxenstein mountains towering in the background. The clouds coming in and out on this late-February afternoon bring the threat of snowfall.

I made this photo on 24 February 2017 with the Canon 6D, 24-105 glass, and the following settings: 1/160-sec, f/16, ISO1000, 50mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at as

Zugspitze summit crosses (Gipfelkreuze) on Austria and Germany,

Alpen panorama from Zugspitze, the top of Germany

Visitors to southern Bavaria and the twin towns of Garmisch-Partenkirchen should aim high with Zugspitze in their sights. At a height of 2962 metres (9720 feet) above sea level, Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany, and can be reached from the Bavarian side in Germany or the Tyrolian side in Austria. As shown above, crosses appear on both Austrian and German (taller) sides. Most will take advantage of one of the following three ways to ascend to the summit:

On a clear cloudless day above and below, panoramic views from the summit include sight lines to other Alp peaks in Germany and Austria.

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Loisach valley, east to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bayerische Zugspitzbahn,

Oberbayern Hausberg: bovines and alpine meadows (2011)

It’s a bright autumn afternoon in Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria), and the cogwheel railway is on the descent from Zugspitze, returning to the valley base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The train slows on approach to station “Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hausberg”, only two-kilometres southwest from the twin towns.

Loisach valley, east to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bayerische Zugspitzbahn,

Loisach valley, east to Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Train station, Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hausberg,

Train stop “Hausberg”

Stepping out at Hausberg

Doors to the stuffy train compartment open out to the breeze riding down the Loisach river valley. Deep breaths expand and fill my lungs with the slightest hints of hay, fresh cut grass, cow dung, and woodsmoke. Brightly illuminated pastures beckon me forward, one foot in front of the other. Blank looks from the “bayerische Kühe” sprawled out on the grass suggest a possible course of action. Except for the part about the blank faces …

I’ve already seen a number of people in the valley as the train weaved its way down from the summit. Couples are out on their walks. Their slow gait is not representative of age or condition; their easy stroll reflects many years of familiarity with the area.

With a smile, I’ll greet passersby with “Grüss Gott”. I’m in small conversation, proceeding typically in one-way flow: “where are you from?”, “how did you learn German?”, “how long are you here?”, and “do you like the area?” My final answer often surprises them most: “ich würde hier lange bleiben, wenn ich könnte.” (I’d stay here longer, if I could.)

Within an illuminated river valley surrounded by “little” Alps, idyll has another name: Hausberg belongs right here in the now.

Loisach valley, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hausberg,
Loisach valley, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hausberg,
Loisach valley at Hausberg,

Loisach valley, at Hausberg, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Ausserfernbahn DB train, to Reutte in Tirol,

Deutsche Bahn “Ausserfernbahn” train, to Austria’s Reutte in Tirol

Tracks shared by Bayerische Zugspitzbahn and Ausserfernbahn, Hausberg,

Tracks shared by Bayerische Zugspitzbahn and Deutsche Bahn

Bovine residents at Hausberg,

Bovines, meadows, Alps, Hausberg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberbayern, Upper Bavaria, Bavaria, Bayern, Germany, Deutschland,

Simple things in Upper Bavaria: bovines, meadows, Alps.

Reaching Hausberg

Visitors staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen can easily walk the short distance from either of the twin towns. The flat stretch of Loisach river valley is easily walkable on the paved pedestrian path from Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the way to Grainau, Eibsee lake, and beyond. Alternatively, hop on the regional “Ausserfernbahn” train from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Reutte (in Tirol) and request to disembark at Hausberg. Another alternative is to hop on the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn cog railway on its ascent or on the way down from the Zugspitze summit.

I made all of the photos above on 9 October 2011. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

Münchner Haus, Zugspitze, Germany

Germany’s highest postal code on Zugspitze

Here you are; you’ve made it all the way up onto Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany.

You’ve always appreciated receiving handwritten mail in letters or postcards. As you’re traveling, it’s time you reciprocated by sending cards to family and friends, and you’ve written up a few postcards, ready to send. You’ve come up to the summit and you have the postcards in hand with correct postage already affixed to the postcards.

And in passing, you’ve just noticed there’s a mailbox here … at an elevation of over 9700 feet (almost 3000 metres) above sea level.

Sitting on Zugspitze’s west peak is the Münchner Haus (Munich House), started in 1897 and maintained since by the Deutscher Alpenverein (German Alpine Club). The building has the mailing address and post-code: “Münchner Haus, 82475, Zugspitze”. The accompanying and familiar yellow Deutsche Post mailbox here on Zugspitze is the highest in the country (obviously), and the box’s contents are emptied at 1030am every morning except Sundays (“Leerungszeiten”).

There’s no guarantee your mail will get a “Zugspitze” postal mark before the mail is sent to its destination, but one thing is true: that mailbox has a stunning view of the Alps to call its own.

Münchner Haus, Zugspitze, Germany

Münchner Haus, Deutscher Alpenverein (2011).

Münchner Haus, Zugspitze, Germany
Münchner Haus, Zugspitze, Germany

Germany’s highest mailbox (2011).

Zugspitze Germany

Münchner Haus’ east-southeast view, towards Gletscherbahn (glacier cablecar) and Reintal valley (2011).

On a repeat visit to Zugspitze in 2017, I discovered the mailbox on the summit was no more. The “highest” mailbox and post office in Germany is located in the warm confines of the Sonn Alpin on the Zugspitzplatt plateau below the summit proper.

Münchner Haus, Zugspitze, Germany,

No more mailbox (2017).

Deutsche Post, Sonn Alpin, Zugspitzpltt, Zugspitze, Germany,

Deutsche Post office with PLZ (postal code) 82475 at the highest point in Germany.

I made the photos above on 9 October 2011 and 25 February 2017. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberbayern, Bavaria, Germany,

The twin towns of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (fall 2011)

(Mostly overcast conditions in autumn, October 2011.)

They are six syllables, almost a mouthful, but the two words also represent hiking, climbing, trekking, skiing, Olympic history, and Alpine grandeur.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located about 90 kilometres (55 miles) southwest from München, and can be reached in about 90 minutes with Deutsche Bahn regional-trains. With the town’s close proximity to the Austrian border, additional trains direct passengers onwards to the Austrian towns of Reutte and Innsbruck.

In preparation for the 1936 Winter Olympics, the neighbouring towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen were merged in 1935 to form a single entity. According to “Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features, and Historic Sites” by Adrian Room (2005):

Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Town, southern Germany. The present town was formed in 1935 on the amalgamation of the two communities Garmisch and Partenkirchen. The former name means “Germar’s district,” the latter “(settlement of the) Parthians by the church.”

Many arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for day hikes into one of two gorges in the area: Partnachklamm and Höllentalklamm. Longer daytrips include a visit to Mittenwald or an ascent to Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany.

In town, there are small narrow cobblestone streets, few cars, and many colourful buildings built in a distinctive Bavarian architectural style. Garmisch feels more modern, whereas Partenkirchen has retained its old Bavarian charm. The combined town is contained neatly at the junction of the Loisach and Partnach rivers, in a broad valley surrounded by a crown of mountains. There must be something in the crisp air and the snowmelt; some consider Garmisch-Partenkirchen as a base for daytrips, but the town itself is worthy of discovery.

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Bayerische Zugspitzbahn, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Ascent to Zugspitze, the top of Germany

Around the Alps, the following questions are often asked: is it cloudy? If it is and I decide to go up, will I see nothing but near-zero visibility?

On an October morning, skies were overcast, but there were some promising clear patches around. Rainshowers over the previous couple of nights down in Garmisch-Partenkirchen town would have been snow at elevations higher than about 1000 metres, which meant all of the “local hills” would be frosted in white.

I took a chance and decided to ascend Zugspitze. It’d be all or nothing: a view full of glory, or a view with a whole lot of grey.

4 ways up top

There are four ways to Zugspitze, which at an altitude of 2960 metres above sea level is the highest spot in Germany. One way up is to scale the mountain on foot for the experienced trekker and climber. For the rest of us, there are three alternative routes to the summit:

•   Bayerische Zugspitzbahn cogwheel railway from Garmisch-Partenkirchen;
•   Eibsee-Seilbahn, aerial tramway from Eibsee, down the road from Garmisch-Partenkirchen; and
•   Tiroler Zugspitzbahn, aerial tramway from Ehrwald in Tirol, on the other side of the valley in Austria.

For the ascent, I rode the Zugspitzbahn railway to Eibsee, and took the aerial tramway up to the summit. Despite the possible snow up top, this was still the “summer season”. The round-trip to the summit costs € 48 per person (summer 2011), which sounds expensive, but as you’ll see in this and subsequent posts, I believe the trip was worth the price.

Bayerische Zugspitzbahn, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The way up. “Halt auf Verlangen” (stop upon request).

Zugspitzbahn leaving Eibsee station

Zugspitzbahn, leaving Eibsee station for the summit.

With operations starting in 1963, the Eibsee aerial tramway was designed as an alternative and faster means of ascending the Zugspitze summit.

Over the total 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) horizontal distance traveled, there are just two pylons or support towers, lifting the aerial tram vertically over 1950 metres (6400 feet) from the lower-station in the valley (about 1000 metres or 3280 feet above sea level) to the upper-station near the summit (2960 metres or 9700 feet above sea level). The height of the towers are 65 and 85 metres (213 and 279 feet, respectively), which makes the latter the tallest cable support-tower in the country. At its steepest near the summit, the aerial tramway reaches a grade of 46 degrees.

Eibsee aerial tramway

Eibsee cable car: just TWO support towers over a horizontal length of 4.5 kilometres, a vertical climb of almost 2 kilometres, and a maximum grade of 46 degrees.

Eibseeseilbahn Talstation

Looking up from the Eibseeseilbahn Talstation | lower station, Eibsee cable car.

1st tower, Eibseeseilbahn (cable car)

On the Eibsee cable car to the first tower.

To the 2nd tower, Eibseeseilbahn

On the Eibseeseilbahn, up to the second tower.

Looking down, Eibseeseilbahn

On the Eibseeseilbahn: breaking through the clouds.

Eibsee lake

Past the second tower, looking back down to Eibsee.

Ridge along Grosse Riffelwandspitze

Ridge along Grosse Riffelwandspitze; ice and snow chunks from the cable.

Cross marks the summit

Gipfelkreuz (summit cross) on the Bavaria/Germany side.

Austrian side of Zugspitze

Towards the frozen Tirolian/Austrian side of Zugspitze.

Despite the clouds at mid-level, the chance I took with the trip up to the summit proved very rewarding, as the aerial tramway broke through the clouds and into clear blue skies at the Zugspitze summit.

Subsequent posts highlight the exquisite view of the surroundings under a fresh layer of snow.

The series:

•   Ascent to Zugspitze, the top of Germany (this post)
•   Zugspitze summit : part 1, German side
•   Zugspitze summit : part 2, Austrian side
•   Zugspitze summit : part 3, Austrian side, after the clouds cleared
•   Zugspitze : part 4, the summit and the plateau below

I made the photos above on 9 October 2011. This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress at

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