Sitting below the spectacular Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany, is the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen: a spectacular climbers town with no bouldering, or at least no recognised bouldering. Now that raises the obvious question: if there is no obvious bouldering, why include it on this website?
There is logic to its inclusion. Firstly, Garmisch is a typical climbers town – although more inhabited by paddlers but still, akin to Arco, Chamonix or Llanberis – and as a stop off point on your way past, or even as a base, it is a good solid choice. Vils, Allgau and Kochel are all within a sensible day trip from here and given the facilities on offer here, i wouldn’t rule it out as a place to stay.
Secondly, there are boulders, just nothing published about them. I have yet to find out about any potential local scene but trust me, for the budding first ascentionist, there is plenty to go searching for.
What i find staggering is that there aren’t any existing routes but there are two factors in that: firstly, we are in Germany and the Germans really aren’t famed for their outdoor bouldering. While they may well have the rock, as i’m finding slowly over the years, it is not a focal point for them. Just look at the Frankenjura.
Secondly is the fact there is plenty going on here as it is. Eibsee and the Zugspitze, as well as the abundant other local attractions, bring in millions of people every year so there is little need to attract more. Zillertal, Magic Wood, Cresciano and so many others are still very close by, giving the budding boulderer plenty of other places to head.
My suspicion is that the discipline just hasn’t hit the area yet but that it will. Once someone clocks on to the fact that at the bottom of Germany’s highest peak will lie some boulders to be climbed, they will and from there i expect it to snowball. Don’t forget that bouldering as a sport is still very young and that many of the existing “classic” destinations have been established for less than 20 years. I have no doubt, having explored the area, bouldering will come here one day too.
There will be downsides. There is no obvious boulder field and any climbing will doubtless be spread out across a wide area. The quality could well also be an issue, with the rock being limestone that is prone to polishing and doubtless not steep enough. However, the latter hasn’t stopped them in Arco and with scenery this outstanding – in quality and in aspect – even the most ardent limestone-hater would live with it. You really do need to go.
As mentioned, there aren’t really any in the immediate vicinity and that isn’t really why this page is on here. I have included some suggested crags that aren’t a million miles away with the caveat that we did not go to all of them.
If you have and care to offer some suggestion, please do let me know in the comments section below. I would love to hear more from you.
Vils. The Alpen en Bloc guide made this out to be a decent crag in it’s own right but the Allgau guide has it listed as one small area in a much bigger area. There are about a dozen limestone blocs in a wooded aspect with some great lines to try. Soul Rebel 7a and Hanuman 7a+ are two that stand out but there are plenty of others to keep you occupied for a day.
Allgau. A bit of a conundrum based on guidebooks alone, Allgau could either be amazing or a vast collection of mediocre crags. Some of the scenery certainly looks amazing and the area is plenty good enough to have a decent section in Alpen en Bloc Vol 1 and to have it’s own dedicated guide if you can find a copy. Mostly limestone from what i can gather, if coupled with a trip to Garmisch would definitely be worth investigating.
Kochel. A 45 minute drive to the North, but with what sounds like a bit of a beasty walk in. The grades are mostly in the 8s but with some to do for those mere mortals among us. I’ve not actually been but it sounds like the Parisella’s Cave/Stoney Middleton of the area: hardcore, perma-dry and worth a go for the strong ones among us.
This is what stands Garmisch out from the surrounding towns and villages, in my opinion. Famed for it’s winter climbing and alpinism, there is plenty here. Driving into town on our first night, we spotted at least two outdoor shops on the outskirts alone. More were found in the town proper and a quick Google search hinted there were better ones still to be seen.
The beauty of Garmisch is that the infrastructure is in place for any outdoors enthusiast to rock up and be easily catered for. Camping, hotels, restaurants aplenty, there is more than enough here to make a decent home, let alone a base. If only there was climbing on the doorstep, i may never leave.
- Food. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the local supermarkets are Aldi and there is one located directly across the main road from the campsite. There is also a Fristo; a beer supermarket! I don’t even drink much and i got very excited. I’m sure they exist everywhere else too but this is Bavaria – they’re quite well known for their beer and it does indeed come in at less than 1 euro per bottle. Watch out though as everywhere is closed on Sundays.
- Climbing Shops. The one we were dead keen on was Bergsportgeschäft Alpinsport as their website clearly showed hardware, rock shoes and the like. There are many other outdoor shops in town, as you’d imagine, but this is the one for the rock climber. The staff are wonderfully helpful too.
- Accommodation – Campsites. There were two main campsites that came up in our searches before we arrived: The Camping Resort and the Camping Experience. The Resort will get you 5* while the experience only warrants 3*. Needless to say, we avoided the 5* prices and went for the cheaper option but were still not disappointed. Perfectly decent campsite with pay as you need electric for tents. Recommended.
- Cafes and Bars. There are SOOO many in Garmisch proper, as well as plenty in the outskirts. We ate at a burger bar on my birthday, called Shaka and it was excellent. I would certainly go there again. If burgers aren’t your thing, there are more alternatives than you can imagine, including the excellent Italian restaurant Celentano. Excellent food and reasonably priced.
- Guidebooks. Get yourself a copy of Alpen en Bloc – volume 1 covers the western end of the alps, 2 the east – and you’ll find your nearest bouldering. There is also a dedicated Allgau guide if you can find it.
Relevant blog posts: here (if you’re that psyched or bored)