Of all the hikes I have done in my life, I think not a single one was exhausting me that much, partly due to conditions with walking 12h in sun and in the end too little water. But more, because you constantly climb a ridge up and down: the Jubiläumsgrat, connecting Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak, bit under 3000, and Alpspitze. It's a (direct) 4.5km long ridge and this leads to around 8-9km of climbing, partly free, up to difficulty III and partly ferrata up to D. Hardly getting easier than I, II. So what's an exposed passage on a difficult hike is here the normal thing for around 8h. One of the most rewarding and challenging tours in the Eastern Alps, but it also brought me and a friend (assumebly we are rather fit) complete to the limits. If you only want to read about the Jubiläumsgrat itself, click here.
Start and climb for the Jubiläumsgrat has many different options, obvious aim is Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, just north of Tyrol. Good train connections especially from Munich, from there it is 1:45 h to Garmisch, from Innsbruck around 2 h, from Salzburg 4 h.
We came by car, parking next to the Boulder hall was for free and we could also sleep in the car there for a night (caravans are forbidden on this parking lot, but camper vans were around).
You should plan two days for the climb, first just ascending a bit and a long second day with very stable weather. The classic path is from Zugspitze to Alpspitze, other way round is also possible, but less common.
Straight on Zugspitze is the Münchner Haus, not too big, moody owner and when we checked fully reserved for the whole upcoming month, so if you do not plan months ahead it is tricky getting a spot there.
Many people biwaked around the hut and cable car stations, some with tent bit further down, many (when we were there I would say around 20) just with sleeping bad, sleeping bag and Biwak bag somewhere on the terrace of the cable car stations or alternatively 15min down towards Wiener Neustädter Hütte at the platform of the old cable car station, where there was a wooden platform and less people than on the top.
For reaching the Zugspitze there are several options as well: easiest and most lame just with cable car to the top.
Most beautiful and interesting ascent is via the breathtaking Höllental, first a gorge and then easy ferratas and a glacier. We went against this option because it would have required crampons and heavy shoes. When the glacier is covered with snow less equipment is needed, but this summer with hardly snow and pure ice the whole glacier equipment was necessary.
We decided to go for the Wiener Neustädter Hütte, just called the day before, it was booked out but owner told us that we will find a spot somewhere, worst just with blankets on the floor of the guestroom. In the end, as always, people didn't show up and we got a bunk bed. The hut was super, great sunset, awesome, talkative, uncomplicated owner. For dinner there are only two choices: one meat (pasta with sauce and meat, Geschnetzeltes, and pasta with tomato sauce. Both very tasty, but more importantly kind of all you can eat and we went twice for extra portions).
The hut can be reached by many different ways, we went from Eibsee in around 2.5 h, official 4 h. Car stayed in Garmisch and we biked go the lake and hid the bikes in the forest. Less complicated is just taking the shuttle bus or the Zugspitz Zahnradbahn, both cost around 5€, leave twice per hour and less than an hour you are at the lake. The next day you just need to drive back and pick up the bikes again in case you proceed like us.
Bike lane towards Eibsee, surprisingly Garmisch has hardly any bigger hotels and has nice landscape to bike along, to the right the tracks of the rack railway.
The valley in the back is the Höllental, first an impressive gorge and then via a short ferrata towards a dying glacier and furthermore to the Zugspitze summit. Gorge is also for casual tourism very popular.
Beautiful and refreshing Eibsee, also by itself already worth a visit.
Well hidden bikes, easier is just taking one of the shuttle options for 5€, but we lacked a bit research regarding this topic.
The path from the lake towards the Wiener Neustädter Hütte, in the beginning via the skiing slopes, just approaching the mountain was already spectacular. On the top of the peak the cable car stations are visible, as well the cables in the center right.
The path gets more alpine and the pylon visible is part of the Austrian/tyrolean cable car going to the top. Approximately that is the path as well, it also serves for delivering food to the hut. Every morning they stop it on top of the hut and drop down groceries (that is why water also costs 3,5 € for 1,5 l).
Some easy climbing also involved.
Wiener Neustädter Hütte. On top the summit. Via the wall it is a secured, but not too difficult hike/climb to the summit, waiting for us the next morning.
The first of three dinner portions, the vegetarian option with tomato sauce was also very tasty!
Had worse views in my life.
In the inside still very much orgininal with furniture being older than 100 years and it left a very cosy and alpine flair.
Some people failed to make it down on time dua to bad planning, long queues at ferratas and bad fitness, the lower two light points went to the hut and arrived at 11 and later, the upper just biwaked there (but had the right equipment for this).
For the second day and the actual Jubiläumsgrat, follow here.