I had greatly desired to get out into the Wetterstein long before I arrived in Munich towards the end of May.
Clouds Above Kramerspitz
Alpspitze’s beautiful, triangular summit as viewed from Garmisch-Partenkirchen seemed a wonderful vantage point to take in the wonders of the Wetterstein.
Waxenstein (right) and Zugspitze (left)
I left the Hauptbahnhof in Munich using the Deutsche Bahn around 8 am. To my surprise and frustration, I found out that the Bavarian Ticket I purchased was not valid until after 9 am on weekdays. Fearing the forecasts for thunderstorms in the afternoon, I chose naively to pay the 40 Euro fine and continue on my way. I later found out that I could have asked for a printed citation, which I could have contested later instead of paying the fine. Bummed by the ticket that effectively cost 60 Euro, I rode on to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
On this particular hike, I chose to take notes so as to better document the adventure. I left the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Bahnhof (707 m) at 9:11 going east thanks to a ridiculous decision I still don’t understand, which I thought would put me on a path directly to the Hausbergbahn. After meandering through the streets of Garmisch, I found a path that took me back west to an intersection I should have passed 10 minutes earlier if I had gone west out of the train station. I continued up the road I thought would lead me to the Hausbergbahn, but instead, placed me a hundred feet above it. The heat and humidity compelled me to retreat down again to check if I could cut a few hundred meters off my hike (9:50 am) by taking the cable car. Unfortunately, they weren’t running for anyone except construction workers. Disappointed yet again, I rambled on, into the network of paths on the slopes and in the trees.
Part way up the klettersteig
After another 20 minutes, I lost the trail and had to resort to a guesstimation based on the not-so-precise map I had in my pocket. The decision lead me through ankle deep mud and a startlingly steep, slippery slope close to the Toni.-Hutte (10:20 am). That’s when I noticed the massive clouds building above Kramerspitz to the north. To avoid turning around, I had to ignore the instincts acquired in the four-corners of the U.S. where afternoon thunderstorms sweep in with fury like clockwork around noon daily. I picked up the pace a little but to no avail since more construction lead me astray, losing me the minutes I earned with the extra effort. I ended up reaching Kreuzeck (1651 m) at 11:20 am. The clouds at this time, had consumed the upper portion of Alpspitze.
With no water since well before Kreuzeck, I chose to push on to Hoch-Alm (1705 m) where I tossed back a Spezi at 11:40 am. Using a biker as a pacer, I tried to blaze to Osterfelderkopf. About half-way between the two waypoints was when I heard the first rumble of thunder far off to the west. I arrived at Osterfelderkopf (2050 m) at 12:20 pm and pondered the risk of continuing on. When no thunder materialized for a few minutes, I gambled and pressed on to the klettersteig.
Clouds harassing Zugspitze
For many portions of the klettersteig, the protection seemed superfluous. I assume the cables have the primary purpose of securing climbers in snow. I found clipping and unclipping rather time-consuming so I elected to use them rarely and resort to simple scrambling. At 1:35 pm, I topped out in a sea of clouds that lifted occasionally to reveal the wondrous Wetterstein with Waxenstein, Zugspitze, and Hollental basked in sunlight.
After a good long period on the summit, I descended the same route to Osterfelderkopf, arriving just before 3 pm. The thunder returned soon after as I lay on the bench waiting for the next tram down. Despite the early adversity and frustration, it turned out to be a great day.