Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski resort
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is arguably Germany’s most well known ski resort, an accolade not to be sniffed at given there are over 500 outfits competing for the same title.
Most commonly abbreviated to just ‘Garmisch’, the country’s only Winter Olympics, the 1936 Games, which saw the first downhill ski racing, were staged here. More recently, it hosted the 2011 Alpine Skiing World Championships and, as a regular host of World Cup events each year, it is now among the select few resorts to have staged all three levels of international competition.
Unsurprisingly the resort is well equipped to keep all levels of skiers happy. Accomplished skiers in search of a real test will relish the opportunity to ski the Zugspitze glacier, home to Germany’s highest slopes, with guaranteed snow cover and testicle-tightening verticals.
But it’s not all about the white stuff; Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an attractive area home to scenery that draws tourists year-round. Après-ski and dining options aplenty, this is an example of a rare resort that can be just as much fun for non-skiers as long-term powder junkies.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located in the Werdenfelser Land district of the Bavarian Alps in south-eastern Germany, close to the Austrian border.
On the slopes
Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski resort’s relatively low altitude means its lower slopes can have problems maintaining cover towards the end of the season; five of the key runs down to the town, however, have snowmaking facilities.
At the other extreme, the resort’s separate glacier ski area has the country’s highest run. It was formerly open for summer skiing and has Germany’s longest season from early autumn to mid-spring – so here skiers are guaranteed at least some snow cover.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is comprised of more than a dozen separate small- and medium-sized ski areas, with some located across the border in Austria. While this fragmentation is seen as a drawback for some, bringing (or hiring) a car – as most German guests do – permits a variety of options, while an efficient public transport system also connects the different sectors.
Depending on each skier and boarder’s needs and ability, a ticket can be purchased for individual areas or skiers can opt for the affordable Top Snow Card pass, which can also be used in the Austrian centres of Seefeld, Ehrwald and Lermoos.
The closest ski areas to Garmisch-Partenkirchen are Alpspitz, Kreuzeck and Hausberg. Between them, they offer around 40km (25 miles) of runs accessed in a number of ways, including a combination of a funicular railway and gondolas.
Garmisch’s other main ski area is on the Zugspitze mountain where 22km (14 miles) of piste reach up to 2,720m (8,530 ft), with 720m (2,362ft) of vertical slopes.
Additionally, Cross-country skiers have 28km (17 miles) of tracks in the area to explore.