I used to have this idea about climbing the highest mountain of every country in the world. Clearly, it was a ludicrous notion, not least because I’m not a mountaineer. Though look up Ginge Fullen for someone who is well on the way. The ambition then reduced to climbing to the highest point of at least one country per year. So if I live to be 200 I still might achieve it! Assuming the world remains inhabitable for that long.
This ambition has led me up some beautiful but obvious mountains, such as Kilimanjaro and Ben Nevis, some beautiful but obscure (and hairy) climbs, such as Grauspitz (Liechtenstein) and Aragats (Armenia), and some ridiculous high points like the side of a road up an escalator in Monaco and a radio mast on a foggy hill in El Salvador.
I thought I could tick off my 2019 high point with Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. At 2962 m, steep and rocky, and snow-capped for most of the year, it is a proper mountain. However, there are a series of cable cars and cog railways to the top where you’ll find a restaurant. Or it can be hiked.
More great music in Munich
Adele played on a Cello inside the marble Diana Temple in Hofgarten was actually lovely.
The best route involves via ferrata and a glacier crossing and takes multiple days and some specialist equipment. That route should not really be undertaken solo as you ought to be roped to someone else, especially for the glacier crossing (crevasses for breakfast anyone?). Or there is a longer, less exciting, but apparently beautiful route up the Reintal Valley. Again, multiple days are recommended as it’s about 20 km to the top but with an altitude gain of about 2500 m.
This blog was supposed to be how I had set off from the pretty town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen at around 5am, hiked superfast all the way to the top where I would lunch with the tourist hordes in their jeans and flop-flops. Then, turning my nose up at the cable car prices and queues, I would hike back down again arriving truly knackered but thoroughly satisfied at the hostel after about 15 hours on the mountain.
None of that happened. I didn’t climb it at all.
A weeklong remote sensing workshop in the Austrian Alps had Magdalena flying to Munich – a few days early in order to have a look
Partnach Gorge, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
5 Euros to walk the length of it along the path carved and tunneled into the side.
around. Obviously, I had to go as well. Not to the workshop but for the look around bit.
We had a day and a bit wandering around Munich. It was nice. It was hot. Consequently, we spent a lot of time in the many parks and gardens. The English Garden was particularly lovely. It is a huge expanse with trees affording welcome shade though with grassy areas that were filled with sunbathers as at a beach. There is a river you can swim in, or surf on the single standing wave, and there’s a large beer garden in the middle where an oompah band played from a Chinese temple.
Our favourite spot in the city was the Viktualienmarkt where there was a lot of traditional food and drink on offer in the shade of trees and a maypole. I had a massive piece of pork with sauerkraut and a big glass of beer – as you must if you are in these parts.
Then down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the edge of the Alps, where I would attempt my epic hike and Magdalena would continue onwards via Innsbruck for her workshop. We
walked up past the ski jump – not a sport I fancy trying after seeing the size of the structure – built when this place hosted the winter Olympics in 1936 and up to Partnach Gorge. It is probably worth the 5 euros as the path is carved into and through the cliff of this narrow canyon through which the snowmelt was thundering.
As we popped out the upstream end of the gorge and hiked up the hill on our circular route we stumbled across the Zugspitze Ultratrail. This 100 km race had been reduced to “just” 60 km because of heavy snow conditions at higher altitudes. I found it extremely inspiring as people of a variety of shapes, sizes, ages and nationalities (they had a flag of their country of origin on their race number which had us staring at the groin – where the numbers were pinned – of every runner we passed) ran, or often walked, past us and we discovered they had done 40 km already thus still had 20 km to go. Consequently, since getting back to the UK I have started trail running again after an absence of about 18 months
The Rathaus on Marienplatz, Munich
Where crowds of people waited for the thoroughly underwhelming midday clock glockenspiel thing.
due to injury.
The highlight of this walk was the wildflowers. You had probably gathered this from the proportion of the blog photos devoted to the flowers. The alpine meadows were stunning with carpets of orchids and… lots of other pretty ones that I can’t identify. Edelweiss? Or is that just a song?
Unfortunately, the full day I had scheduled for the Zugspitze climb had been forecast thunderstorms for over a week. High mountains, especially if you are dangling from metal cables and chains, are not places to be in a thunderstorm. I had pretty much resigned myself to not doing the climb even before arrival and when we got there the peaks were invisible in the cloud. And the ultra-marathon being cancelled due to too much snow further suggested that attempting to summit would be foolhardy. I considered the easy option of getting the cable car to the top but the summit restaurant webcams revealed that visibility was a few metres. So a total of about 40 euros just to touch a point that could have been anywhere in the world due to zero view with the added risk of being struck by
lightning? I didn’t bother and stuck to a lower level hike instead. The predicted heavy rain didn’t materialise but I think it was the right decision; probably at the top there was a blizzard!
As such, my quest to reach the highest point of a country this year is yet to be fulfilled. Given the upcoming trip, I can either go for a random point in the corner of a field at about 200 m altitude in the Baltics or attempt a 7000 m mountain in the ‘Stans. Which one to go for…
Tot: 0.367s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 11; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0193s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb