Up the mountain

Another highlight of our road trip was to visit the top of Zugspitze – the highest peak of Bavarian Alps, Wetterstein Mountains. The summit was 2,962 m (9,718 ft) above sea level, and could be accessible by cogwheel train and Gletscherbahn cable car.

We left Garmisch Partenkirchen around eight o’clock after a brief showdown with that old woman at the reception. In the end, she offered to knock off €20 from our bill, and I decided to settle the matter without further haggling or making a scene. Life is too short to be unhappy, especially during our precious road trip, mum and I agreed.

Mum poised on a cogwheel train, waiting for the train to move…

There are a few ways to reach Zugspitze. One way is catching a cogwheel train at Garmisch Partenkirchen. The train stops at Hausberg, Kreuzeck-Alpspitzbahn, Hannerbach, Grainau and Eibsee before starting a serious climbing toward its terminal at Zugspitzplatt. Another way is driving to Eibsee like we did and catching a train from there.

Our train was starting from Eibsee and it was schedule to depart at 9:15…

We managed to find the seats by the driver. We could hardly wait until a driver arrived and started the engine.

At the beginning, the track was surrounding by thick woodland…

The climb was rather slow and laborious. We could feel the cogs underneath our carriages biting into the steel tread between the rails and pulling the load up like a powerful farm horse ploughing a field. I had never been on this type of train, therefore, I was fascinated by how it worked.

Then all of the sudden, the vegetation on our right opened and revealed a breathtaking view of Lake Eibsee on our right. The sight made us realised how high the train had climbed already…​

After Eibsee, there were two loops on otherwise a single track. At each loop, two trains, one ascending and the other descending, waited in order to pass one another.

Our train entered Kleiner Tunnel and stopped. The driver turned off the engine. Apart from the driver, none of us on the train knew what to expect in the tunnel, and we were rather excited when we spotted some bright light in the distance…

The light was of the headlamps of the oncoming train. The train approached towards us very slowly and steadily, like two cars passing each other on a very narrow street.

After the tunnel, the cogwheel train climbed another 1,100m and we arrived at the terminal, Zugspitzplatt…


Despite it was 2588m above sea level, the inside of the terminal station was not at all cold. Mum and I were well prepared for low temperature, therefore, we were a little disappointed…

We won’t need any jacket after all!

Our optimism would vanish into thin air as soon as we stepped out of the building…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

5 thoughts on “Up the mountain

  1. Reading your posts of this interesting road trip I never cease to be amazed by your Mother’s stamina. And, yours for doing all the driving! I have driven some long stints on the German Autobahns and you certainly have to have your wits about you. It’s the combination of volume of traffic and such a variation in speeds at which all the different vehicles are travelling. 10 out of 10 for you.

    • Oh thank you, Agnes! Yes, my mum is packed with energy and curiosity always and she is my inspiration😊 I will aspire to age like her. Driving on Autobahn was a bit nerve-wracking, I must admit. People drove so fast on the left lane and the right lane was packed with HGVs all the time. Because my car was right-hand drive and it required me to do an extreme rubber necking every time I ventured out to the fast lane, I ended up having a sore neck in the end😭 Also, those drivers with high-power BMW or Audi alike, drove very aggressively! So many times, they came right up to my car and tailgated me until I move to the slow lane😡 I much preferred driving on French Motorway.😝

      • Yes, I think you need nerves of steel for driving on the Autobahn – fortunately we had a left-hand drive when we were living just outside Frankfurt and any very long trips (weekend visits to France etc) we used to share the driving.

      • Indeed! Now I know what to expect from the Germans on the Autobahn😝 Paul & I are leaving for France next Friday and we are taking our car (& Bella). We are planning to share the driving but I am not sure if I can trust him with “driving on the wrong side”. Fingers crossed!😵

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