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Ski vacation at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hello,

Just decided to take the plunge and plan a winter vacation to Germany. I plan on going in the first week of February for 7 days. Being military, I decided to book a room at the Edelweiss Hotel and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Other than the obvious skiing at Garmisch-Classic and Zugspitze, what other places are "must see's" during the winter months? Also, I will be going with my gf who's never skied before, does anyone know whether they have some fairly easy terrain that she could handle after a few lessons?

 

Thanks

post #2 of 20

Hi Mattsch,

 

I ski in Garmisch quite often as it is the closest and cheapest real skiing for somebody living in Berlin.

 

The Garmisch Classic area has great, steep, fast groomers as well as a fair amount of beginner terrain. The off-piste is somewhat limited but does exist.

 

The Zugspitze has a few intermediate groomers that honestly are not all that interesting. The off-piste is huge when it is in shape. It takes ages to get up to the glacier, and as a result I have only made the trip once. It is worth it just for the view, though.

 

So those are the two obvious places to ski from Garmisch, both relatively small but good enough for a day or two. Luckily there are a number of gems within about an hour of Garmisch (you can drive or take the train) that are even mostly included on the same multi-day ski pass.

 

Just over the boarder in Austria you have the Zugspitzarena, which is several smaller, not lift connected resorts. The best of the bunch is Lermoos. Great beginner terrain for your gf, and while the mountain looks small on the trail map, it "skis big". There is some great intermediate and advanced terrain on the mountain, as well as some obvious and very good off-piste.

 

In Mittenwald there is a small beginners ski area, not really worth the trip, but for experts you can take the Karwendelbahn cable car and ski the Dammkar, which is a 7km off-piste route. The patrol carries out avalanche control on the main route, although it is still advised to carry avi equipment. It's a fantastic run when the conditions are right.

 

Similarly Oberammergau also has a small beginners area and a single cable car, the Laberbahn, which also offers up an avi controlled off-piste route. It's shorter than the Dammkar but also steeper.

 

So there really is some great skiing in the area, you just have to be willing to travel a little bit each day to access it. The one big criticism of the area is the low elevation. In a bad year you can just about get skunked out everywhere but the glacier.

 

Garmisch is an interesting town. On the one hand you have the traditional Baverian village, but then there is the military presence. It creates a strange atmosphere, but I've always had a good time there.

post #3 of 20

Mattsch...ENJOY Garmisch...all the bier is good.

Can't really comment on the ski areas, learned to ski after coming back and moving to CO.  But the town is nice, little kitschy, but don't blame that on the "military presence".  More of an issue with the tourist focus across southern Bavaria. 

 

All in all is a fun town and the whole experience is more fun than the land of the Orange back in NY.  Biggest recommendation is to get away from the Edelweiss and spend a lot of time downtown wandering around.  Agree that the altitude is pretty low, most wintertime we spent there was not particularly cold, but friends who got up high on the Zugspitze had a good day

post #4 of 20

I worked for Edelweiss as a ski instructor for three seasons, so i can attest that your girlfriend will be able to get lessons from an American ski instructor.  It is a PSIA school and their lesson rates are unbelievably cheap(because the pay their instructors minimum wage), avoid getting rentals from Edelweiss though. The rental fleet is outdated and is maintained by an incompetent Brit named Mick Jagger (No, seriously).  Edelweiss offers a "ski week" package that is 4 days of skiing, lifts and rentals(they are included but go elsewhere anyway! I would suggest ski school to the left of the Edelweiss Ski School commonly known as "The Red School").

 

Garmisch is a nice area if you like groomers. The Classic is much more interesting than the Zugspitz Glacier. I would also recommend Lermoose which is just south of Garmisch and easily accessed by train right from the parking lot of Edelweiss Ski school. 5 euros and 25 minutes later you are there. If the snow is good Lermoose has fantastic tree skiing. Pay one of the instructors at Edelweiss to guide you there one their day off. 

 

The Brewery tour at Edelwiess is a must do! Great food and awesome local beer at a local German beer hall. Say hi to Wolfgang for me.

 

For food don't miss Zum Wildschutz, it is an authentic Bavarian restaurant specializing in game meat (boar>pig).

 

Okay that's all for now. Like I said, I lived there for 3 years. If you have any specific questions or even need directions feel free to PM me. I love to talk about Garmisch.

post #5 of 20

Let me second the recommendation for Zum Wildschutz, I eat there every time I'm in Garmisch. The venison is incredible. They have homemade schnapps, too. Makes me wish I was there right now.

post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattsch View Post

Hello,

Just decided to take the plunge and plan a winter vacation to Germany. I plan on going in the first week of February for 7 days. Being military, I decided to book a room at the Edelweiss Hotel and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Other than the obvious skiing at Garmisch-Classic and Zugspitze, what other places are "must see's" during the winter months? Also, I will be going with my gf who's never skied before, does anyone know whether they have some fairly easy terrain that she could handle after a few lessons?

 

Thanks

 

This is my neck of the woods!

 

Here's an article I wrote about the place: http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/travel/exploring-around-garmisch-partenkirchen-germany.html?pagewanted=all

 

Here are some photos I took:

Partnach and Hiking

Garmisch Classic Skiing

Zugspitze Skiing and Snow Hotel

 

Wildshutz is great for dinner.

 

Do NOT miss a hike through the Partnach Gorge.

 

Do make sure you walk through the main street on the Partnach side of town. 

 

Ask around about one of the epic sledding runs (rodelbahn), which can be over a mile long and pretty wild. 

 

Zugspitze has some potentially great off piste. From small/short between-piste runs if the powder is soft (way above the tree zone mind you), to no-fall station/summit to piste runs, to some longer outside the perimeter runs, to a few epic routes from the pistes all the way down to the valley (all-day) which can include some touring, some repelling (one or two sections) or a nice little jaunt down to the Austrian side through another resort. But being high alpine/glacier territory, it is not a good idea to venture far outside the pistes unless you have a guide or are familiar with the area. A friend of a friend who works the igloo/pistes told me she found an intermediate guy burried up to his neck at around 3.30pm just one ridge over the boundary-- who would have spent the night had she not happened to want to get one last off-piste run in on her own. 

 

The Zugspitze pistes themselves are relatively boring and flat. A few years ago they even removed a lift up one of the steeper sections because too many people would get off up there and be stuck-- steep + moguls. These days there are a bunch of short, hike up the sides runs... but ask about conditions because avalanches are a real hazard up on the walls. That said, it's beautiful up there, and since getting to the top just to be a tourists is the same price as the lift ticket... you might as well pack your skis. 

post #7 of 20

Oh, and Garmisch Classic has at least one OK section of easily accesible off-piste. I forget the name of it, but it's all the way at the top/back. There's a pretty wide field that runs under this huge old-school aerial tram lift that has some short, OK terrain. Nothing very steep/technical. But if you're itching to get off the pistes, it will sate that. But it gets sun so it can be anywhere from re-frozen to fresh and light to re-heated spring-ssh type snow. And I hate those trams. 

 

There's also the potential for some tree skiing, but when I was last there the snow conditions were pretty crap in the trees (refreeze) and I didn't find any really fun stuff.

 

The Kandahar WC run from the top can be great fun for piste skiing. The top half is particularly good. And it seems so many people are afraid of the very, very top section (it's a bit steep, but really easy, and groomed to perfection/death- depending on your preferences :) ) that you can get a number of all-out runs up there... just give it one lap to figure out where the choke/tight spots are so you don't kill yourself. That said, the view is spectacular from the top sequence, and if you're into bombing a quiet, well-groomed run without many human obstacles... it can be really fun (for sticking to the pistes, that is). 

 

Re Zugspitze, keep in mind you're at nearly 10,000 feet at the summit, and 8,800 on the pistes. Some people feel the altitude even there. 

post #8 of 20

I have no idea about how your/army deals are with staying at Garmisch, but personally I would never pick Garmisch for skiing holidays. Only decent ski tracks are both Kandahar runs, everything else is more of a joke. So personally I would rather move 50-150km down south where you have endless option of Austrian ski resorts to choose from. From Kitzbuhel, through Solden, Ischgl, St. Anton, Lech... I admit I didn't ski all that much in Garmisch, since I'm there only for World cup races (and World championships last year), but it was still enough, that I managed to ski pretty much through all hill, and it's really not impressive to me.

So unless you get some really great deal through army for staying there, I would look a bit more south for A LOT better skiing.

PS: But I certainly agree... You can probably find better beer only in Czech, everything else and anywhere else beer is at least few grades worse :) So if this matters, then Garmisch is definitely place to pick :)

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by justruss View Post

Oh, and Garmisch Classic has at least one OK section of easily accesible off-piste. I forget the name of it, but it's all the way at the top/back. There's a pretty wide field that runs under this huge old-school aerial tram lift that has some short, OK terrain. Nothing very steep/technical. But if you're itching to get off the pistes, it will sate that. But it gets sun so it can be anywhere from re-frozen to fresh and light to re-heated spring-ssh type snow. And I hate those trams. 

That'd be the Alpspitze area under the Hochalmbahn. There's also some obvious, low-consequence off-piste skiiers right as you head towards the Bernardein T-bar. You however do NOT want to venture off-piste without knowing what you are doing pretty much anywhere else in that area. You can get lost very quickly and cliff out very easily. A Polish woman died a couple years ago after tumbling off a cliff, actually surviving, but then being trapped and having no idea where to send rescuers.

 

The Kandahar is great fun, but get there early if you want to really let it rip. By mid-morning its pretty full of mediocre skiers trying to prove they can handle it. But get the first lift up in the morning and get in a few runs on it by yourself, awesome.

 

I understand Primoz's criticism of Garmisch. The place is not without its downside, and there is a reason I ski elsewhere despite it being the closest and cheapest option for me. However I do neverthless go down there about once a year, and I've always had a great time. You have to work a little bit to find teh great skiing there; it isn't always obvious or easy to to get to. It also helps that I'm also there to cross country ski, and there are some very good trails in the region around Garmisch.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice everyone! I will definitely take it into consideration. I had a few changes over the past couple of days. I decided it would be more economical to get a rental in G-P, plus I kind of want a break from the military after this deployment. With the money I saved from that, I was able to throw in a rental car. Hopefully gas prices dont get too much higher rolleyes.gif Also, since I am flying Iceland Air, I took advantage of an offer of a free stopover in Reykjavik for a couple of days at the end. Seems like theres a lot to do, mainly the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and pub crawls. Anyone with experience in that neck of the woods? I also hope to ski 2-3 days and check out some of the sights in Bavaria.  

 

Sking related, I'll have to take a look at the different areas. I consider myself an intermediate, and still stick on piste, so I wont be too upset if theres a lack of ungroomed off piste areas. I have a lot more planning to do and am not opposed to driving around to get the best experience.   

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiingblind View Post

I worked for Edelweiss as a ski instructor for three seasons, so i can attest that your girlfriend will be able to get lessons from an American ski instructor.  It is a PSIA school and their lesson rates are unbelievably cheap(because the pay their instructors minimum wage), avoid getting rentals from Edelweiss though. The rental fleet is outdated and is maintained by an incompetent Brit named Mick Jagger (No, seriously).  Edelweiss offers a "ski week" package that is 4 days of skiing, lifts and rentals(they are included but go elsewhere anyway! I would suggest ski school to the left of the Edelweiss Ski School commonly known as "The Red School").

 

Will I be able to take advantage of the ski school at Edelweiss if I dont stay there? Also, I was looking into the Ski Week, my only concern is that since my GF and I are on different levels, will we spend the entirety of the time separated in our respective classes? Im all for time apart, but dont want to make it the majority....

 

Quote:

Here are some photos I took:

Partnach and Hiking

Garmisch Classic Skiing

Zugspitze Skiing and Snow Hotel

 

Wildshutz is great for dinner.

 

Do NOT miss a hike through the Partnach Gorge.

 

Do make sure you walk through the main street on the Partnach side of town. 

 

Ask around about one of the epic sledding runs (rodelbahn), which can be over a mile long and pretty wild. 

How is the gorge in the winter? Ill be sure to check out the eateries too.  

post #11 of 20
The gorge is great in the winter. Huge ice formations.

Sent from a stupidphone.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks Justruss... I took a look at you pics and your article. It was very, very helpful. You said your from the area, or live there now?

post #13 of 20

I'm in Munich. But I'm from Western Mass originally and got here via SF and then NYC.

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

That's great! If you're free while I'm there, lets try to grab a drink!

post #15 of 20
Sure. I'd be happy to.

Sent from a stupidphone.
post #16 of 20

Another restaurant for you. Perhaps you may wish to try Gaststätte Flößerstube. And if you desire, check out the Kloster Ettal brauerei. Agree with comments about Classic and heading over to Lermoos for more beginner options. Not sure Laber is such a good idea for you and GF but Kolben is OK but small. Shouldn't be any problem finding an english speaking instructor willing to guide on day off (except holidays). Gute Reise!

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattsch View Post
 

 

Will I be able to take advantage of the ski school at Edelweiss if I dont stay there? Also, I was looking into the Ski Week, my only concern is that since my GF and I are on different levels, will we spend the entirety of the time separated in our respective classes? Im all for time apart, but dont want to make it the majority..

You most likely will be in a different class from your GF. Although in my experience, if you wanted to hang out with her while she is in her class they will allow that. 

post #18 of 20

Oh and Edelweiss offers a nighttime-torchlit tour through the Partnach gorge. I think it is Tuesday and Thursday night. Check with the gift shop at the Edelweiss.

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys for all the tips.... I'm going to talk to the gf and see if she wants to try to take a few lessons at home before we go abroad so she can get a taste of it (and hopefully get hooked :)) 

 

Here is the itinerary so far:

 

Day 1 Arrive to Munich and head to Garmisch-Patenkirchen

Day 2-4 Ski & Sight See around Garmisch-Patenkirchen

Day 5- Day trip to Munich

Day 6- Visit with friends in Amberg

Day 7- Castle tours

Day 8 Fly out of Munich/ Arrive in Reykjavik

Day 9 Drive around Iceland/Pub Crawl!!!

Day 10- Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa and Fly Home

 

How is the Zugspitze for Beginners? I saw some easier terrain up there or would it be overwhelming? I will definitely look into the other areas, though...

post #20 of 20

Zugspitze is fine for beginners and low intermediates. It won't be very interesting skiing, but it's worth heading up there to check out the views if you have never been before. The rack and pinion train that goes up there from Garmisch takes forever; your better off driving to the cable car at Eibsee. The view is also better from the cable car (it's insanely steep and climbs over 6000 feet). However, only go to the Zugspitze if it's a clear day.

 

The obvious choice for the other other two days in Garmisch is one day at the Classic area and one day at Lermoos.

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