The second part of our journey was on the Glacier cable car which goes all the way to the summit terrace. The edges of the terrace were treacherous with thick ice and a mound of snow had been pushed up in the centre so that it was safe to walk around. The track to the summit of Zugspitze, adorned by its gilded cross, was closed to walkers and we weren’t going to be buying anything from the souvenir stand either.
Back inside the warmth of the cable car station we followed the walkway around to the Fascination Zugspitze Interactive Museum where the sign said that cable car tickets would give us free admission. We tried to swipe them time after time without success until the lady on the information desk spotted us and came to help. “Where have you come from today?” she asked and laughed when we told her we had started from Garmisch. “Your tickets won’t work here – you’re in Austria now!” Lucky there were no passport checks!
We paid our €2.50 entrance fee and made our way through the museum, from the Conquest of the Zugspitze display with old photos and artefacts telling the history of the railway, past the glass floor and internal viewing platform which looks down 200 m to the rock below, to the 3D model of the Zugspitze.
We left Austria and crossed back over into Germany, exactly where we weren’t sure, and made our way back to the summit terrace. The cloud had begun to clear and the 360° view over the mountains was amazing. On a clear day it’s possible to see into Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland – this day we were happy just to be able to see the mountain peaks, more than 400 in number, and green alpine valleys stretching away to the horizon.
The last part of our journey was on the Eibsee cable car, which took us on a 10 minute 2,000 metre descent to the Eibsee Lake. We walked along the track through the alpine forest to the train station to wait for the cogwheel train back to Garmisch, shedding our warming Winter layers as we went. At the foot of the mountains we were back in Summer.