News from the snow
Garmisch - Partenkirchen Germany
Garmisch - Partenkirchen is Germany's undisputed 'Winter Sports Capital', located only a short distance from the Austrian border in the country's southwestern corner. Famous for it's annual New Year Ski jumping competition, televised all over the world, and as a former site of the Winter Olympics, Garmisch - Partenkirchen today is a large, cosmopolitan town with plenty to see and do both on and off the slopes. It is a town that is also rich in history and culture. Local people often dress in traditional styles (without being paid to do so by the tourist board!) and many of the older buildings are decorated with beautiful frescoes - wall paintings that are often centuries old. All around is magnificent mountain scenery, dominated by the mighty Zugspitze to which lifts rises over 2100 metres (nearly 7000 feet) from Garmisch - Partenkirchen - producing one of the world's biggest lift served verticals (although unfortunately it is not possible to ski all the way back down!). The final string to the Garmisch - Partenkirchen bow is its status as a health resort, or rather as a "climatotherapeutic training centre" - a program of exercise and complete body management The objective is to prevent illness in its early stages by making the body and spirit stronger, although Garmisch is also a good choice for those seeking to recuperate from existing conditions in the pure mountain air of the resort.
Germany's best known ski resort is the site of the famous annual ski jumping each year and World Cup Races. A large traditional Bavarian town with incredible facilities and a population of 30,000 it is located beneath Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze.
The eight surface lifts and one six-person chair up here, serving mostly intermediate level terrain, are also accessed by the older funicular railway which passes through a long tunnel through the mountain, a remarkable feat of engineering, before emerging at the snowfield. This is also the train many take from Garmisch - Partenkirchen to the base of the Zugspitze cable car. Closer to Garmisch - Partenkirchen itself, and also reached by the funicular before taking the relevant cable-car up the mountain, are the ski slopes of the Alpspitz (top lift 2050 metres / 6730 feet) and the just lift-linked Kreuzeck. Keuzeck starts where the snow line ends, just at the base of the Alpspitz area and just lift linked to it. From there it is possible to ski back down through the forest to the base station at 750 metres ( 2460 feet) - the longest descent in the area. The potentially patchy snow cover at the lower levels are backed up by snow making on this run. Most trails will again appeal to intermediates.
The fourth and fifth areas at Eckbauer and Wank above the famous ski jumps are linked by a ski touring route and both offer skiing within the tree line accessed by lifts from the outskirts of the town. Both have a number of blues suitable for beginners although the highest lifts are at 21780 metres (5850 feet) at Wank. Of the dozen other choices on the Happy Ski card, the best options include Mittenwald in Germany, the elite Austrian resort of Seefeld and also in the Tyrol, the big verticals at Ehrwald and Lermoos.
Other evening entertainments include two cinemas, regular classical music concerts and guest appearances by famous performers at the Kleines Kurtheatre. Or there is comedy and folklore performances at the Peasant's Theatre or the Bayernhalle. Ice shows and hockey matches are open to spectators at the Olympic rink.
Other created features are to be found at the Ehrwalder Alm (above Ehrwald, on the area pass), and at Seefeld and Lermoos. There's a Funbox, wave ride and half pipe at Kranzberg by Mittenwald and a half pipe and quarter pipe at Karwendel. Erwin Gruber's dedicated snowboard school in Garmisch - Partenkirchen publishes a brochure featuring pictures of 'boarders with aircraft turbo-props strapped to their backs for added oomph - an experience not to be missed by the dedicated pro.