Date: August 27, 2016
As an expat living in Munich, climbing to the top of Germany was definitely on my bucket list. Knowing that we would have a lot of elevation gain and distance to cover on the route (2150 m and 31.2 km to be exact), we opted for the 5:32 train from Munich to Ehrwald.
Off to an early start, we quickly made it onto the hiking path and started the ascent. About an hour into hiking we were met by a line of 20 hikers. Yes, this is a popular route so expect a lot of people on the trail during the high summer months. We made our way around the group and continued upward.
The hike up to Wiener-Neustädter Hütte is quite nice and I didn't really feel any fatigue from the elevation gain. After the hut is when the fun begins. What looks like a cliff face, needs to be climbed. It looks more intimidating than it really is. The A/B klettersteig itself is quite manageable without equipment but due to the crowds of hikers a helmet is a must to protect from falling rocks.
I really enjoyed the klettersteig section with many iron ladders and steel cables for security. It never felt too exposed or scary. The final push is on steep scree and then on rocks up to the summit.
We didn't really make it to the cross through the hoards of people at the top. Most of the crowd was coming from the seilbahn. We didn't even try to get a group picture like we normally would at the peak. Rather we sat down for a beer and cake and then escaped out of the crowds as quickly as possible.
The descent offered awesome views in the valley and required some care over the steep rocky paths. We realized that we had 20 km downhill to cover so we might as well enjoy it. We took our time, stopping at the Knorrhütte and continuing down to the Parnach river.
My feet ached over the distance but we pushed on and finished just as it was starting to darken into night making the 9:00 pm train back to Munich.
Although this a must-do hike for anyone living in Germany, be warned that it is very crowded and touristy near the top which taints the experience in some ways.