From afar, the summit looks like an impossible feat. However, the peak is relatively “easy” to reach via an excellent via ferrata route, known as the Alpspitz Ferrata or Alpspitze Klettersteig.
Starting at the Alpspitzbahn cable car mountain station atop Osterfelderkopf, it’s possible to summit Alpspitze in 2 hours along this beginner-friendly via ferrata/klettersteig climbing route.
From the summit, the hiking tour continues down the challenging Ostgrat (east ridge) and then across the north wall of Alpspitze along the Nordwandsteig (north wall trail). The whole route takes 4 hours.
This is a very well-known and busy route. Avoid weekends if possible and start as early as possible.
How to Climb the Alpspitz Ferrata (Alpspitze Klettersteig)
- Starting Point: Alpspitzbahn valley station | Google Maps
- Trailhead: Alpspitzbahn mountain station
- Distance: 4.5 km circuit
- Time Needed: 4 hours
- Via Ferrata Difficulty: Easy (A/B)
- Complete Hiking Circuit: Difficult
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 593 meters
- Minimum Elevation: 2031 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2628 meters
- When to Hike: Summer, or early Fall. Clear days only.
- Where to Eat & Drink: There’s a restaurant at the Alpspitzbahn mountain station
- Where to Stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Olympiahaus (budget), Quartier – Lodges Biohotel (midrange-luxury), or Werdenfelserei (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Grainau: St. Anton (budget), or Hotel Längenfelder Hof (midrange-luxury)
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Alpspitz Ferrata Hiking Map
Alpspitze Hiking Difficulty
The recommended circuit route can we divided into three parts:
- Alpspitz Ferrata – Via Ferrata Ascent
- Ostgrat – Southeast Ridge Descent
- Nordwandsteig – North Face Cross
The Alpspitz Ferrata is classified as grade B (“easy”). The entire route is generously secured with ladders, cables, rungs (brackets), and pegs. No parts along this secured route feel scary or unsafe, largely because there are so many installed aids.
Though the Alpspitz Ferrata isn’t overly difficult, it requires stamina. It takes 1:30 – 2 hours to ascend 600 meters. It’s important to be acclimatized and well-rested for this tour.
In our opinion, the descent along the Ostgrat ridge is far more technical and challenging than the via ferrata ascent. Hikers should be confident descending rubble/scree fields and scrambling down steep karst passages without aids (cables, pegs, rungs).
The Nordwandsteig cuts across the north wall of Alpspitze, completing the circuit. It’s a black hiking trail with cables and a few ladders. Though it requires surefootedness and concentration, it’s easier than the Ostgrat trail.
All-in-all, this circuit route is very challenging.
Alpspitze Via Ferrata Equipment Needed
Via Ferrata Equipment
A via ferrata kit consists of three pieces: a helmet, a climbing harness, and a lanyard.
In addition, we highly suggest bringing climbing gloves like the Unisex Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger Gloves. Gloves help you better grip the steel cables. They also protect your palms.
It’s advisable to wear the climbing helmet for the full duration of the tour. Most hikers also choose to wear the harness and lanyard for the full route, because there are also secured passages along the Ostgrat and Nordwandsteig trails.
How much you clip in will depend on your comfort level and experience. Do what’s best for you.
Via Ferrata Kit
- Women’s Climbing Helmet: black diamond women’s climbing helmet
- Men’s Climbing Helmet: black diamond men’s climbing helmet
- Women’s Climbing Harness: Petzl CORAX LT Women’s Harness
- Women’s Climbing Harness: Black Diamond Women’s Momentum Harness
- Men’s Climbing Harness: Black Diamond Mens Momentum Rock Climbing Harness
- Men’s Climbing Harness: PETZL Corax Climbing Harness
Via Ferrata Lanyard with Carabiners
- Unisex Lanyard with Carabiners: PETZL Scorpio Vertigo via ferrata Lanyard
- Unisex Lanyard with Carabiners: Salewa Ergo Core, Unisex Adult
Lightweight Hiking Backpack
Grade B, or Grade B/C High-Cut Hiking Boots
- Women’s Grade B: Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX
- Women’s Grade B/C: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady
- Men’s Grade B: Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
Where to Start the Alpspitze Via Ferrata
Alpspitzbahn Mountain Station: Osterfelderkopf
This high-alpine via ferrata tour begins and ends with the Alpspitzbahn cableway. There’s free parking at the valley station. Purchase a Garmisch-Classic Ticket, which includes one mountain ascent and descent.
If you’re traveling with transit, take the cogwheel train of the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn to Kreuzeck-/Alpspitzbahn. The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn train station is located only a few meters from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station.
- Address: Alpspitzbahn, An der Kandahar 13, 82491 Grainau | Google Maps
Summer Opening Times
- June: 8:30 am – 5 pm
- July – September: 8 am – 5:30 pm
- October: 8:30 am – 5 pm
Garmisch-Classic Summer Pricing
- Adults: 31 EUR
- Youth (ages 16 – 18): 25 EUR
- Children (ages 6 – 15): 15.50 EUR
Alpspitz Ferrata Trail Description
Alpspitzbahn Mountain Station to Alpspitz Ferrata Start (15 minutes)
Exit the cable car station and follow signs to “Alpspitz über Ferrata.” The signage is very clear. There will be absolutely no confusion about where to go.
The gravel path leads south towards the towering Alpspitze peak. After a few meters, the path splits. Stay to the left, following the sign to “Alpspitz über Ferrata.” The right trail leads to Osterfelderdorf and the impressive Alpspix viewing platform, which you can visit before/after the circuit tour.
Soon, the path splits again. Continue left, passing through the turnstile, used to thwart livestock from entering the cable car area.
This narrow path is mostly level and affords stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
You’ll climb through a rocky crevice, secured with rungs and a cable, and then continue along this balcony path to a signed trail junction.
Turn right to the Alpspitz Ferrata starting point, located at the base of the rock face, just beyond a small scree field.
Alpspitz Ferrata (1:30 – 2 hours)
The Alpspitz Ferrata starts off dramatically with a series of rungs leading straight up the rock face.
Several via ferrata passages usher you up to a notch, overlooking the Höllental Valley and the Zugspitze.
The secured climbing route continues to ascend, with very little “walking” in between. Views open up to Garmisch-Partenkirchen as you gain elevation.
Eventually, the Jubiläumsgrat and Alpsptize via ferrata routes merge.
You’ll climb up a gully to the ridge.
The highest point of the Alpspitze summit is located just above the Gipfelkreuz (Peak Cross).
Ostgrat (1:10 hours)
There are a few paths that lead down from the summit:
- Südweststeig to Grieskarscharte – This is the southwest via ferrata route which leads to Höllental valley.
- Ostflanke to Oberkar – This is the “east flank” route which leads to Oberkar basin.
- Ostgrat to Oberkar – This is the “east ridge” route which leads to Oberkar basin. Note: though it’s called the east ridge, it’s actually the southeast ridge of the mountain.
Follow the sign to Ostgrat / Oberkar. This route takes you over the southeast ridge of Alpspitze to Oberkar basin.
Initially, the path is just loose rocks. Pick your way down carefully. Hiking poles are absolutely essential for safely navigating this difficult terrain.
- Recommended Trail Poles: Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles
After about 25 minutes of zigzagging down the scree, you’ll arrive at the start of a secured passage. This secured route lasts 10-15 minutes.
Afterwards, the trail eases for a bit.
The next section requires careful scrambling without any aids. This unsecured path drops down steeply to Oberkar basin.
Norwandsteig (45 minutes)
At the Oberkar signed trail junction, follow signs to Nordwandsteig. This path leads across the north face of the Alpspitze to Osterfelderkopf and the Alpspitze cable car mountain station.
Much of this route is secured with cables.
You’ll hike through a short tunnel system, before rejoining the familiar path back to the Alpspitzbahn mountain station.
The tunnel system isn’t too long, but we used our headlamps nonetheless.
- Recommended Headlamp: Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Where to Stay
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the best-known alpine resort in the Bavarian Alps. Lying on the confluence of the Loisach and Partnach valleys, this all-year-round destination offers the most in terms of dining and shopping. During your stay, stroll along the famous Ludwigstraße in Partenkirchen, dine at Zum Wildschütz in Garmisch, and explore the natural wonder of Partnach Gorge.
We also recommend taking a day trip to Oberammergau and nearby Linderhof palace.
Budget | Olympiahaus is a traditional Bavarian guesthouse located at the historical Olympic stadium (where the ski jump is) and at the Partnach Gorge trailhead. The Olympiahaus features an on-site restaurant, breakfast buffet (optional), and free on-site parking.
Midrange-Luxury | Quartier – Lodges Biohotel is a modern hotel with nature-inspired minimalist interiors. Suites feature untreated stone pine paneling, natural bed linen, and metal-free beds. Breakfast is included. The hotel restaurant serves contemporary regional specialities, Tuesday to Saturday, 2 pm – 9:30 pm.
Luxury | Werdenfelserei is a standout boutique hotel which artfully combines traditional and modern alpine design. Highlights of staying here include the Zugspitze-facing rooftop pool, on-site restaurant, spa and wellness area, breakfast (included), and creative architecture.
More options: Hotel Schatten (budget), Central Garden-Mountain Apartment (midrange), aja Garmisch-Partenkirchen (midrange-luxury), Obermühle 4*S Boutique Resort (luxury), Private Spa & Garden Alpi (luxury).
Grainau is a village within the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located at the foot of the Zugspitze massif. Though quieter and more secluded than neighboring Garmisch, Grainau is perfectly positioned for exploring Lake Eibsee, Höllental (Valley of Hell) and Höllentalklamm gorge (Valley of Hell Gorge), and the high summits of the Wetterstein Mountains, including Alpspitze.
Budget | St. Anton is a top-rated guesthouse with Lüftlmalerei (art murals) and traditional furnishings. Set in a wooded area with mountain views, this charming accommodation looks like a scene from Hansel and Gretel. Double rooms and apartments are available.
Midrange-Luxury | Hotel Längenfelder Hof is a lovely, family-run hotel surrounded by meadows and facing the Wetterstein Mountains in Grainau. This idyllic 4-star hotel features spacious chalet-chic rooms, a wellness area, an indoor swimming pool, rich breakfast buffets, and complimentary afternoon tea and cake.
Luxury | Eibsee Hotel is a 4-star hotel located on the shores of Lake Eibsee, at the foot of Zugspitze. Stay here for the idyllic location, lake and mountain views, and wellness facilities (indoor swimming pool, multiple saunas, sun deck, garden, hotel-guest-only beach). Welcome extras include free use of kayaks, canoes, and SUPs, the Guest Card Grainau, and free on-site parking (including day of departure). Breakfast is included and half board is available.
In winter, guests have access to a free ski shuttle, Snowshoes, ice skates and toboggans, and a 20% discount off ski equipment.
Bavarian Alps Travel Essentials
Bavarian Alps Road Trip
The best place to start a Bavarian Alps road trip is in Munich, where there’s an international airport. Here’s our recommended Bavarian Alps & Austrian Alps itinerary.
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Germany. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your can rental as early as possible.
Guided Adventures in Bavaria
- Day Trip from Munich: Full Day Tour to Germany’s Highest Peak: Zugspitze
- Day Trip From Munich: Zugspitze Tour: Groups of 4 or More
- Day Trip From Munich: Neuschwanstein Castle Full-Day Trip
Self-Guided Multi-Day Adventures in Bavaria
- 8-Day Cycling Tour: Munich to Venice on a Touring Bike – Active
- 13-Day Cycling Tour: Munich to Venice on a Touring Bike – Relaxed
- 11-Day Cycling Tour: Breweries of Bavaria Bicycle Tour
- 8-Day Cycling Tour: Across the Alps on a Touring Bicycle: Garmisch to Lake Garda
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest
- Hiking Guide: Walking in the Bavarian Alps: 70 Mountain Walks and Treks in Southern Germany
- Hiking Map: Werdenfelser Land, Staffelsee – Kochelsee – Walchensee – Zugspitze 1:50 000
- Hiking Map: Hiking Map Freytag & Berndt WDK 4: Garmisch Partenkirchen
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More Via Ferrata Routes:
- Mount Triglav, Slovenia (Grade B/C)
- Santner Klettersteig (Grade B), Italian Dolomites: Rosengarten Trek
- Gran Cir (Grade A), Italian Dolomites
- How to Visit Lake Eibsee
- Partnach Gorge Hike
- Kreuzeck to Höllentalklamm Gorge Hike
- Best Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Germany Travel Guides:
- Germany Travel Guide
- Black Forest Travel Guide
- Upper Middle Rhine Valley Travel Guide
- Moselle Valley Travel Guide
- Ahr Valley Travel Guide
- Eifel Region Travel Guide
- Cologne City Guide
European Alps Hiking & Travel Guides: