On top of Germany’s highest mountain with alpine@corpuls
Written by Sabine Bartsch
Off the reserve bench and onto the field. Of course, corpuls CEO Iris Klimmer, wanted to go on the Zugspitze trip, but to be honest, she was feeling pretty comfortable with her place on the waiting list. But the unexpected can happen quickly.
And there was no turning back. And by the end of the trip it became apparent that “turning back” would have had nothing on “being there”.
But... lets start at the beginning. "Road to the Zugspitze" - the very ambitious project by ALPINE@corpuls, which came to a successful conclusion in September 2018. It was not the first hiking event undertaken by this employee initiative, which was launched in 2017 at the suggestion of Christoph Hentschel. But it was the first larger trip of this type in terms of altitude and conditions. Before this, some of the colleagues had met together to do short hikes or rock climbing in their free time. The focus of their mountain activities is usually in summer, but sometimes the odd outdoor trip is organised by the group in winter.
Since climbing the highest mountain in Germany is not easy - even if you opt for the 'easiest' (and longest) option throughthe Reintal - training was offered within the ALPINE@corpuls group. Every mountaineer must know what they are getting
themselves into - physical condition, equipment, preparation and stamina, everything has to fit. They also need be extremely sure-footed and not afraid of heights for a mountaineering project of this kind.
The "Road to the Zugspitze" organizational team (Christian Hentschel, Korbinian Hess, Fabian Auler) planned many things in the run-up to the summit ascent: they meticulously researched everything worth knowing about the departure times of the cable cars, the opening times of the gorge and parking. They also composed a packing list and worked out a carpool for arrival and departure.
A good week before the start, it was clear who would definitely be taking part in the corpuls Zugspitze trip. There was a good mix across departments, including colleagues from IT, development engineers, colleagues from marketing, operations, quality management and human resources.
One participant also brought along his wife, daughter and daughters friend.
The crew was also extremely well represented in terms of age (14 to 60 plus) and fitness level (from triathletes to occasional mountain hikers ).
29. September 2018, 8 a.m. Meeting point at the ski stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (708 m).
The somewhat motley, yet highly motivated corpuls team made their way through the 700 m long Partnach Gorge under an overcast sky.
Today's goal was the Knorrhütte (2051 m), in which ALPINE@corpuls had booked to camp for the night. Ahead of the hikers lay 17.9 km, 1405 metres in altitude and a walking time of approx. 6.5 hours. After the impressive start in the Partnach Gorge it was not too strenuous. About 2 hours later the first rest point was reached, the Bockhütte.
Here the first drinks and snacks were dug out of the backpacks and enjoyed. Continuing upstream along the Partnach and with a view of the forthcoming Reintal it quickly became clear to everyone what lay ahead. Up to the Reintalangerhütte (1369 m) in the Wetterstein Mountains, the route was chosen – less uphill, but longer -14 km.
And what is the most important thing on a hike like this? Exactly: the right mountain hiking boots. Sure, but what if one of them falls apart on the very first day? Well, if you're out and about with the ALPINE@corpuls crew, you don't need to worry: there was a gap between the toe cap and the sole of one hikers shoe, but as quickly as the gap appeared, rescue equipment was procured. Udo Franke contributed the string from his emergency kit, another hiker got a roll of tape out of his backpack. The 'wound' was treated with nimble hands and they carried on toward the top.
It got more dicey on the final ascent to the Knorrhütte (2051m).
It lies on the threshold of the Zugspitzplatt, southwest below the Brunntalkopf. Since 1855 it has been the ideal base for the Zugspitze ascent via the Reintal or from Ehrwald via the Gatterl. Four to five times in the summer the hut is supplied with groceries exclusively by helicopter. Rubbish and empties are taken back down to the valley.
In order to earn an after-work beer (e.g. the 'Heli Special' wheat beer for 11€ or the 'Mid-Summit Special' ), the hikers had to overcome steeper terrain. Everyone managed to do so with no trouble and the corpuls team finally broke through the blanket of fog: "It's a great feeling when you're rewarded with such a view from the Knorrhütte after those endless kilometres walking through the Reintal," says Korbinian Hess, summarizing the success of the stage.
The evening at the Knorrhütte seems a bit unusual from today's perspective (in view of Covid19 social distancing): "There was a lot going on, the hut was full of other hiking groups. We all sat very closely together, using even the smallest spot on the bench
as a seat, which is normal in a hut," says Udo Franke, who took part in the tour with his wife, daughter and daughters friend.
The strenuous hiking day came to a close in a happy and entertaining way.
And the room in the dormitory reserved especially for ALPINE@corpuls offered each hiker at least 40 cm width for sleeping (lets be honest: do you really need more?).
The tired bodies were however grateful for every centimetre: To sleep and recharge the batteries for the final ascent the following day.
30. September 2018, 7.30 a.m., departure from the Knorrhütte (2051 m). After a typical no-frills hut breakfast, it was time to set course for Germany's highest mountain. These 'last' 1164 vertical metres would be another big challenge for the mountaineers.
The estimated walking time would be 2.5 hours with a distance of almost 4 kilometres. The weather was promising and followed the forecasts, which showed sun and little wind.
After leaving their home for the night, the hikers crossed the Zugspitzplatt and finally reached the cable car station of the Gletscherbahn (2600 m). It was here that things once again got serious, as the most unpleasant part of the summit tour was imminent: the extensive screefield, which stretches past the Schneefernerhaus research station to the summit rock of the Zugspitze. "That was really uncomfortable," Iris Klimmer remembers, "you took one step forward and slid back two.
You start to wonder if it wouldn't be nicer at home." Some of the participants took advantage of the opportunity to bypass this tricky section from Sonnalpin (glacier restaurant) using the Zugspitz glacier cable car. It connects the Zugspitzplatt
with the summit.
Much awaited the hikers on the last stretch up to Münchner Haus (2959 m). Rope-secured and exposed ledges lead to the south-west ridge of the Zugspitze. Here it was important to keep a cool head, even with blood coursing through the veins from exertion and sweet dripping out of every pore.
But then, finally, it was within reach - the cross on the summit of the Zugspitze (2962 m).
It can be reached from Münchner Haus via a short ladder. Done - everyone stood in the sunshine at an altitude of almost 3000 metres on the highest mountain in Germany.
"Indescribable, this feeling of happiness, to have conquered the mountain and to be able to enjoy the intoxicating view," is how Iris Klimmer sums up her personal experience.
They were also very moved by the commemorative plaques for the victims of the Zugspitze Mountain Race in July 2008 – they died of hypothermia a few metres below the summit. "Together with the people who rode the Zugspitzbahn cable car to the top in their summer shoes, it paints a really strange picture," says the corpuls CEO.
For Udo Franke, team spirit and togetherness were in the foreground:
It was nice that "the whole group made it. Everyone tackled the climb in their own way, but in the end we achieved this goal together."
The special summit welcome by their corpuls colleague, Claudia Anzenhofer, was particularly moving for the hikers: She distributed certificates, hip flasks and chocolate to the mountaineers.
With a poem, she honoured the sporting achievement and collectiveness of the corpuls Zugspitze team. In the group photo from the summit, it is not only relief you can see on their faces. You can also see that there is something connecting us to each other, and I don't 'just' mean the red t-shirts.
All the participants of the ALPINE@corpuls trip took the Zugspitzbahn cable car back down into the valley. It seemed hard to believe that you can zoom down to the lowlands in 15 minutes, after having spent the last 1.5 days defying nature metre by metre to reach the summit. Next stop "Watzmann"
One thing is for sure: the current members of ALPINE@corpuls are planning ahead and are looking forward to the next adventure, especially after the two-year break. "We are aiming for Watzmann, specifi cally the Hocheck at 2651 m," says Korbinian Hess.
With its bizarre shape, the mountain dominates the Berchtesgadener Alps and attracts ambitious high-altitude junkies. "I've heard about the Watzmann project," says Udo Franke, adding: "It's a good goal. My personal favourite would be the Matrashaus on the Hochkönig, at 2941 m it can really only be reached on foot."
Until the next major event, there will certainly be a few less extreme outdoor activities after work or at the weekend - all the corpuls mountain sports freaks agree on that.