Enchainments at the Zugspitze
An overview of various Infinity Loops at Germany's highest mountain range.
Linking routes together is an excellent way of increasing the demands and thereby enhancing the overall experience. Inspired by this idea a few years ago, I started to connect different routes with each other in the Wetterstein mountain range – especially around the Zugspitze. And since I have always combined the climbs in a way that they all end back at the starting point, I have called them “Zugspitze Infinity Loop”.
There are hardly any limits to creativity. Numerous variations exist – depending on your level of endurance, time and weather conditions, if you want to be on the mountain for several days. Some combinations are also very good to climb solo. Not only the ascents are demanding in terms of fitness, but also the constant up and down along the ridges. An enchainment on the Zugspitze is always a good test of stamina, as there are always a lot of vertical meters to be covered.
Example: The Infinity Loop “Eibsee – Zugspitze north face – Partnachtal – Höllental – Jubiläumsgrat – Osterfelderkopf”, which I climbed in June 2018 together with Matthias Daube, brings it up to an impressive 8144 metres of vertical elevation in ascent and descent. In detail the route looks like this:
Ascent: Eibsee – north face via Eisenzeit – Zugspitze (1962 metres)
Descent: Zugspitze – Partnachtal – Garmisch-Partenkirchen (2242 metres)
Ascent: Hammersbach – Höllentalklamm – Höllentalferner – Zugspitze (2212 metres)
Descent: Jubiläumsgrat – Alpspitze – Osterfelder Kopf (1728 metres)
A shorter variation of this with 7374 metres of vertical elevation, which I've climbed in September 2020, is the Infinity Loop “Eibsee – Zugspitze north face via Eisenzeit – Jubiläumsgrat back and forward – Höllental – Eibsee”. This loop is ideal if you are on your own and don't have that much time. It is also very attractive and varied.
Other demanding enchainments:
- Hammersbach – Waxensteinkamm – Jubiläumsgrat – Hammersbach
- Eibsee – Zugspitze north face via Himmel und Hölle – Gatterl – Wetterspitze via Wetterkante – Zugspitze – Jubiläumsgrat – Eibsee
- Wettersteingrat – Jubiläumsgrat – Blassengrat
Let’s see where it is:
For all enchainments at the Zugspitze a stable weather situation is absolutely necessary. Because you are mostly climbing on very long ridges, there are hardly any possibilities to hide from the bad weather when a thunderstorm is approaching.
What I've used:
On multi-day climbs like those, where every gram counts due to the length of the route, I use the Ultralight III 300 sleeping bag from MALACHOWSKI. This is the world's lightest sleeping bag in its category and also has the smallest pack size.
When it comes to the hardware, I fully rely on C.A.M.P. Especially the light helmet Storm feels perfect, can be closed very well with gloves and also has flexible headlamp clips. The climbing harness Alpine Flash is versatile and can be packed extremely small.
In my opinion the perfect shoe for this terrain is the SCARPA Zodiac, because it has a stiff and well profiled sole, but is a lightweight low shoe with the appropriate flexibility.