August 21st: Zugspitze trek day 1

The alarm went off at 6.25 and we were soon ready to leave, having prepared the night before. The early buses don’t stop at the Wankbahn cable car station, next to the camper van site, so we walked down the road to the next bus stop. We were very early and waited… and waited… and waited. Finally we decided that the bus wasn’t coming. What to do now? We decided the only option was a taxi so John switched his 3G on and googled one. There seemed to be a bit of a language problem with the first firm he tried but we were successful with the second.

We arrived at the start of the walk, the 1936 Olympic ski stadium by about 8.30 and set off through the Partnachklamm gorge. We both thought this was even better than the Hollentalklamm gorge which we visited earlier in the week, although it was shorter. This gorge also had tunnels and paths hewn in the rock but there was much more water running through it and as it was so early we had it to ourselves.

It was a beautiful morning, however, the gorge was dark and cold. Similarly, the path which continued along the river once we left the gorge was shady and cool. It made the gradual ascent much easier. After a couple of hours, and having passed another gorge which we could look down in to, we reached the first hut, the Bock hut, in a sunny spot by the river.

Here we had coffee and cake before setting off again. The path became a little steeper and passed through woods before becoming more rocky and alpine. We could see our destination, the Zugspitze, in the distance.

In another hour or so we reached the next hut, the Reintalanger hut, in an even more beautiful location. This was where we had planned to stay the night. However, we had made such good progress that, after lunch, we decided to push on to the next hut, Knorr hut, instead.

After passing through meadows full of sheep with shaggy coats and floppy ears, the ascent really started in earnest. Up until now we had gone up 670m in 14k, in the next 4k we would ascend the same height again.

The views on the way up were fantastic, back down to the valley and the mountains all around. Finally, after a steep, sweaty ascent lasting about an hour and three quarters, Knorr hut came into view and by 2.30 were soon sitting on the terrace with a beer, enjoying the views and the sunshine.

We couldn’t check in until 3.30. We knew we couldn’t get a bedroom and that we’d be in a dormitory so we were anxious to see what it would be like. When we’d checked in, we were pleasantly surprised to find we were the first in our dormitory and could choose our beds. There were blocks of 3 and 5 so we chose 2 of the set of 3 on the bottom bunk, and had showers and changed.

Back downstairs we played cards then had an early dinner and a couple of drinks. I couldn’t believe how many people kept arriving. The hut was packed. We were the only British people, and we think the only foreigners! There were people in every chair and outside on the terrace. The room we were in was very warm, and listening to all the chatter in German around us, I felt very tired. John and I went up to bed at about 8.30. It had been a long day. I can remember some others coming to bed but was surprised to wake in the night to find a man on the floor on a mattress near me. John was quite pleased when a blonde lady occupied the bunk next to him!

But more about the night in tomorrow’s instalment!

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