Explore: A Walk Up Wank Mountain at Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Explore: A Walk Up Wank Mountain at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany | EatExploreEtc.com

Sat at the edge of the Ester Mountain range in Bavaria is Wank Mountain. I wouldn’t blame you if you thought I was making the name up – in English, it’s a rather unfortunate moniker! But I promise you, the Wank is actually part of the Bavarian Prealps… and you can get to the top from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. 

Can I Manage This Walk?

In reading this post, you’ll find it helpful to know that I’m not much of a hill or mountain walker. And when I say “not much”, I mean that it’s a once in a blue moon activity. But on the flip side, I do love walking. I’ll go for miles and miles around cities and parks – all flat and easily accessible places really.

So what I’m trying to say is that I’ve got a little bit of walking fitness and hitting around 20,000 steps in a day is a perfectly reasonable thing for me to do. I figure if you’re going to take a look at the walk I did, you should know what sort of activity level I’m happy with.

Despite not being a hill walker, I’d decided I just had to visit this mountain. Why? Uhh… honestly? It’s all about the name! Plus, I’ll admit, I’m trying to fit as much as I can manage into my last couple of months here in Bavaria.

I found this post on the Toy Town forums: “Wank – What a relief to finish!” and from the description, it sounded like an activity that’d make for a great day out. And it absolutely did. But don’t worry if walking it is out of the question for you – there’s actually another option!

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

We arrived at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station for 9:30am on a Saturday. Travelling from Munich takes just over an hour and it’s such an affordable journey if you make the most of a Bayern Ticket. We wore sturdy boots and brought with us some extra layers, food and drink.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is actually a single town, formed by bringing the two separate towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen together in 1935. It’s a popular destination for skiers, hikers and tourists aiming to visit the highest peak in Germany, the Zugspitze. Though I briefly considered taking the cable car to that summit, it really was Wank Mountain that captured my attention.

When you’re walking around the town, you’ll definitely feel the difference between the former areas of Garmisch and Partenkirchen. The latter is far more typically Bavarian, with painted buildings, cobbled streets and all the shops being closed by lunchtime on a Saturday. The area belonging to Garmisch however was busy and full of life, with plenty of shops and restaurants open. It’s not what I’d call a ‘quaint’ location, but it’s a popular ski resort area so adjust expectations accordingly.

Climbing Wank Mountain

We opted to take a longer, more circular route around Mount Wank to reach the top. Though it’s a little counter intuitive (perhaps) we didn’t want to walk the route which echoed the Wankbahn’s path, choosing instead to loop around the side of the mountain.

The footpaths for the most part were excellent, with a laid path to follow around the mountain for much of the way to the top. Be warned though, you’ll want footwear that’s comfy at the heels – because the inclines you’re going up are going to push your feet backwards.

It’s difficult to really show just how steep some of the paths are in photographs, but suffice it to say that at times I felt like a mountain goat. I’d go up a bit then pause, catching my breath and enjoying the scenery before continuing on.

For the final third of our walk, the footpaths disappeared in favour of zig-zagging rocky pathways up the mountain. Mostly formed as a single track route, steps are frequently formed out of tree roots and supported by intentionally placed logs. You’ll want reasonably sturdy footwear for this, as the sharp rocky gravel underfoot would be uncomfortable through thin trainers. We wore pretty rugged CAT boots which did the job nicely.

The route is easy to follow though and as the time ticked past lunchtime, we encountered a few people starting to make their way down. Nearing the top we were greeted by snow and piles of spruce and fir trees that occasionally smelt like Christmas.

Reaching the Summit

The summit sits at 1780 metres above sea level. Starting at about 700 metres above, this means you’ve climbed around 1000 metres to get here. As our Google route plan suggested, it took us 3 hours to complete the walk from the train station.

And honestly, it felt pretty wonderful to get to the top – where we promptly sat on a bench and dug out our packed lunch. It’s easily one of the best views I’ve ever had whilst eating homemade sandwiches!

If that’s not your thing though, you’ll also have the option of two different places to eat – the Wankhaus and the Sonnenalm.

To help you take in the view, there are a couple of short circular routes around the summit of Mount Wank. Slopes are relatively gentle and the ground underfoot is excellent.

There’s also plenty of benches and spots to take in the wonderful panoramic views and (if you visit in the summer) soak up the sunshine. After you’ve had your fill of the views over mountains and the tiny towns down below, you can then decide on how to make your descent.

The Wankbahn

For the sake of time, we chose to take the Wankbahn back to the bottom of the mountain. The times of operation vary throughout the year, so make sure to check whether it’s running for your visit. The cable car has a maintenance period this year from November 6th to December 24th, where it will not run at all.

All the Wankbahn hours and maintenance dates are listed on this website.

Should you visit when the Wankbahn is open, it costs around €14 for a single trip and just €21 for a return. So if you don’t fancy the three hour walk or have little ones with you that just couldn’t manage, the top of the Wank is still highly accessible.

And should you choose to take the cable car, you’ll be treated to some lovely views on the way back down.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day out here climbing Wank Mountain. And look, I made it through the whole post without making a rude joke! But you’ve been giggling anyway, haven’t you?

Useful Info

Location | Travel by train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Find Out More | Mount Wank Hiking Info | Wankbahn Prices | Wankbahn Opening Hours | Zugspitz Region Hiking Info

4th November, 2017
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