Traversing in Garmisch

. . .with no offense to the Partenkirchen part.

I haven’t been here in ten years. In fact, this was the spot of my first snowboarding experience outside of the U.S., for an afternoon back in February 1999, on a crappy rented board with bindings that were way too big for the boots I was using. I was seriously ill after catching something on the plane ride from the West Coast to Frankfurt, added a few antimalarials, alcohol, a train system all out of whack from the avalanches in Austria, and I was an absolute mess. But hey, I still had to go and ride for the afternoon on the Hausberg.

Fast forward ten years later, give or take a month or so, and I checked the snow forecast and headed to Garmisch. It was partially a money-saving move, but I had not been up to Germany’s highest point either. And the Bavarian beer sealed my decision to stick relatively close by. 

Alas, it didn’t snow as promised, but the overcast gave way to plenty of sunshine during the day. I hooked up with another solo rider from Munich, and checked out some of the off-piste stuff. More snow is needed, but there were still some good spots. As usual for going to a new spot, I was lost much of the time. The runs are pretty short overall, and there are lots of flat spots that required either a lot of speed or plenty of traversing.


Put on the boots. . .


Get on the train, get on the cable car, and 25 minutes later. . .


The last run down was absolutely awful, narrow icy paths designed for walkers, but instead it was a nightmare getting down to the bottom. Ice. Flat spots, death chunks of ice. And more traverses. I don’t think I ever figured out how to really get around the area, but then again, it was my first time on some of these slopes.

Monday was significantly better, but cut short by my 4 PM train back to Munich. I headed for the Zugspitze area, which was a 45 minute journey by cogwheel train followed by a very thrilling cable car that went up 2000 m to the top of Germany. But that’s not all, then you have to take another cable car to go down to the ski area.

I did take in the view first, before heading down to the ski area. It’s an isolated peak in the almost Austrian Alps, with a view on the nicest days clear into Italy and Switzerland, so it’s an impressive panorama.

Waxenstein and Garmisch

Waxenstein and Garmisch

Top of the cable car

Top of the cable car


The snow was actually OK in spots, the ski area is built on this wide open bowl, with a fast disappearing glacier somewhere in the middle. I never figured out where the glacier actually is (was). There was 4 cm of snow Saturday night, but by the time I got there, it was sun baked, crusty, and skied out. Still, I found a few parts in the shade that stayed in very good shape, so I can say that it was a semi-powder (chowder?) day.

From the top

From the top


And, I should add, that I took a 5 minute detour and walked across the border into Tirol, before crossing back into Bayern. Note that there’s no mention of Germany or Austria.

Welcome to Freistaat Bayern

Welcome to Freistaat Bayern

Welcome to Tirol

Welcome to Tirol


Alas, one that ended a bit too quickly. I had to quit by 1:30 PM to make my way back, even though my legs were hurting, my big toes were getting bruised (again) from my oh-so-supa-tight boots. With the scheduling, the system of cable cars and trains was absolutely awful- a 10 minute wait here, a 15 minute wait there, and then the train back to Garmisch which ran every hour. There is a ski bus, but I couldn’t figure out where the stops were. So once you’re at the area of choice, it’s fine getting around, but to go between sections is downright horrible.

Not sure that I will come back here, unless I’m missing something really special. I’ll stick to Austria.

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