Thursday, 20 July 2006

The Bavarian Alps - Zugspitze

I had barely done any climbing, when i was invited to Bavaria with my mate and his dad. I had mostly Scrambled and hiked at this point, so the trip to Germany was a great opportunity.

We did mostly Klettersteiging, however, we decided that we would try to climb the Zugspitze (2894m) via the Jubislaumsgrat Ridge, which is a 8-12 hour ridge from the Alpspitze to the Zugspitze, with the aim of returning on the last Cable Car.
We caught the first Cable Car to the Alpspitze, then climbed up to the summit. We then started the Ridge, and this is what awaited us.

I had never experienced anything like this, the ever-continuing ridge of rock seemed an impenetrable barrier between the Alpspitze and Zugspitze. We weren't even sure of the grade, however, the Guide said that Klettersteig poles and wire were insitu. This however, was grossly out of date.

The sign at the beginning told us, that the the route was being returned to an "Alpine Ridge" but non of us read good German, so we weren't entirely sure what it said at the time! We made good progress, and were treated to fantastic views of Austrias highest Mountains and also got to see Broken Spectres, as we each got one, at least once! We, eventually passed the Jubislaum Hut. We decided to keep going. Soon, it became much colder; snow was building up and eventually cornices and ice. The Zugspitze was shrouded in a veil of cloud. It was getting dark.

We arrived after 9 hours on the ridge and we had missed the last Cable Car. We were unsure what to do, walk down? Luckily, as you may know if you've been to the Zugspitze the place is manned by a awful number of buildings and towers. We managed to get a room in a rickety shack of a Hut, that overhung the cliff-side and was supported with Scaffold. We thought the ridge was Extreme!

The descent was much more fun. It was warm, easy and it involved a glacier crossing and then an amazing walk through the Hollental Gorge. The Glacier can be seen in the picture, and the whole thing was my greatest Mountaineering experience to date.