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Skiing the Alps: the Garmisch-Classic 101
Visiting Germany and want to see the Alps while you are there? One of the best places to visit is Garmisch- Partenkirchen. The town is home to the highest mountain in Germany, called Zugspitze. This town is popular all year round, with many things to do during seasons. One of the most popular and know for recreational activities in winter is skiing. Suit up and get ready to hit the slopes for an action packed day!
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a pleasant tourist filled area with lots of country and mountain charm. Small huts can be seen along large grass-ways on the outskirts of town, just before the start of the mountains. Before the Winter Olympics of 1936, Garmisch and Partenkirchen were separate entities. They were joined together to make the Olympics run better. Here are some photos of the Olympic Stadium that can be visited while in town.
It is very easy to get there and park. Just see the map below to help you in the direction. There is a free parking lot just across the road of the arena. Venture over and see the huge jumps. A 20 minute walk along the small creek will lead you to the well known gorge. We were unable to see the gorge because of weather conditions. It will seem like you are walking in the middle of a road, but keep following it until you reach it! There are a few restaurants and coffee shops along the way.
The Olympic Stadium ski jumps and arena
Olympic Stadium Ski Jump
Olympic Stadium Ski Jump
Skiing the Alps: Where to start
Want to hit the slopes but don’t know where to begin. Here is a guide to help you through your first excursion at the Garmisch-Classic. What to bring, where to park and how to make it through the day.
Skiing in the Alps can be fun and exhilarating, but it can also be dangerous if the right precautions are not taken. If you plan on only skiing the Garmisch-Classic, park at the Hausbergbahn (see photos below). It is best to park here if you are renting equipment. If you are worried that you want to make it to the top and ski down the mountain, don’t fret, all the lifts can be reached once up on the mountain, besides the Zugspitze lifts. This will only allow you to ski the Garmisch-Classic. To ski the Zugspitze slopes, you will need to make your way to the Bahnhof Eibsee and take the train to the top or make your way by cable car.
As soon as you pull into the parking lot try to get a spot closest to the ski lift. This will make it easier for everyone to make multiple trips to the car without getting exhausted before hitting the slopes. Next door to the lift area is the ski rental and school building. They offer everything needed to ski or snowboard: boots, skis, boards, helmets, and even clothing. A small gift shop is attached with the normal gloves, hats and over-priced goods.
Once entering the building there are numerous computers to fill out the needed information to rent equipment. They offer most languages to make it easy for all customers. Just fill out the blanks for each question, print and sign. The technology here is much better than some places I have visited in the states. After checking-in on the computer, head to the left to grab your gear. Employees are extremely helpful and friendly when assisting with everything. They will offer you the boots to try on and then hand over your board/skis and poles. If it’s one of the first times on a mountain, I recommend getting the helmet. It’s hard to fit a hat underneath, but it was fairly warm and kept the wind off the ears even without the hat. Bring a small headband if possible to keep hair out of the face. If more information is needed, there is a help desk directly across from the gear pickup. Gear will also be dropped-off at the same place you picked it up from at the end of your stay.
Maps of Garmisch-Classic Ski Trails
Ski Lift Ticket
Your now ready to head to the top of the mountain to start your Alps journey. There are four to five windows directly in front of the ski lift area that sell the tickets. There are numerous plans to purchase depending on how long you want to stay. There are so many possibities! All day, half day, 2 days all the way to year passes. Check out all the deals here. There are deals for the Garmisch-Classic, Zugspitze and both of them combined. Know where you want to ski before purchasing the ticket. The tickets come in Adult, Youth (16-18 years) and child (6-15 years). Be sure to grab a map there to know what the slopes look like.
Getting on the gondala can seem intimidating at first. Before getting in line, take a look at how others are placing their boards and entering. Now get in the line, scan your ticket and board the lift. They will be moving slow enough for you to place your boards on the outside and enter. Take your poles with you. There are people who monitor the area to make sure all goes well. If they see need, they will stop it and assist you. Now just enjoy the ride up. Beautiful views of the mountains all the way up. It is about an 8 minute ride so just hold tight.
Hitting the Slopes
So now is the time to decide where you want to start. I recommend hitting the beginner slopes first. They are the slopes numbered with the blue. There is a kiddy slope directly to the right as you get off the lift. It is past the two restaurants. There, kids (or adults) are able to practice their skills without too much of a grade in slope. It is trail C4 and offers a magic carpet, which is just like riding the moving floors in an airport. Just beyond that is C2 and C3. They are also labeled blue for easy and have a rope that is placed between the thighs. The rope goes under the armpit for snowboarders. Check out these pictures and videos below of those slopes. Also remember to place poles in one hand, off the wrists. They could potentially get tangled with the rope and be fatal. As you approach the top of the hill, let go of the rope slowly so that it doesn’t catch onto something and pull. Someone will be at the bottom to help assist with the rope if needed. It can be tricky to grab it and place it in the correct spot all while getting your feet in the right place. Don't worry if a few go by while getting situated.
Getting off the rope tow
Check out the map for your skill level. Being too ambitious too soon could result in injuries. If in fact you do get hurt, try to ask someone to contact the mountain rescue crew. They will be able to assist you.
There are multiple types of lifts in the Garmisch-Classic: aerial cable car, gondola, chairlift, T-bar, moose lifts (the rope that goes between the thighs) and magic carpet. The Alpspix viewing platform is at the top of the Garmisch-Classic. It is a huge platform that allows you to get a great view of the mountains.
If you decide to go for the Zugspitze area, you can also take in a better view of the mountains. Its peak is at 2962 meters. The wide deck allows you to see all sides of the mountain.
Tips on what to bring up the mountain:
- Extra Gloves
- Extra Socks
- Small Light Backpack
- Sunglasses/sunscreen (We got lots of sun from the reflection off the snow)
- Opt for the helmet
- Headband for under helmet