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A Pearl in Alpine Germany

The Watzmann knows nothing of inferiority complexes. Although shadowed by the Zugspitze, the second highest peak in Germany still attracts crowds of climbers eager to conquer its summit and view the alpine lake below.

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The Watzmann offers a demanding climb and stunning views

Even though it lacks the prestige of being the highest peak in Germany, the Watzmann still attracts crowds of mountaineers every year, all eager to conquer the second highest summit in the country.

Some mountaineers return time and time again to climb the mountain while others take their satisfaction from just one ascent. Even though at 2,713 meters it is dwarfed by the Zugspitze, which at 2,962 meters has more to offer, reaching the top of the Watzmann is something really quite special.

Set in Bavaria's Berchtesgadener Land National Park which surrounds the Königssee alpine lake, the Watzmann offers a great climbing experience in an area well known as the pearl of the German Alpine region. The challenge is one that mountaineers must attempt completely on foot. Ulike the Zugspitze, there is no cable car to the peak.

Königssee

No trip up the Watzmann would be complete without a stop at the legendary Watzmannhaus. Located 2,000 meters from the base of the most demanding incline on the mountain, the 100-year-old mountaineers' refuge provides welcome shelter for a brief stop or an overnight stay either on the way up or way down. Whatever direction you are taking, the view from the terrace is breath-taking with a clear view before you and mountains on either side.

Tours for every ambition

There are a number of tours on offer to those wishing to tackle the Watzmann. The most popular is the two-day tour which includes an overnight stay at the Watzmannhaus. There are a number of options as well with different starting points around the base offering tours ranging in time between three to six hours.

At the end of the first day, mountaineers are rewarded with the welcome sight of the Watzmannhaus, which is managed by the German Alpine Club and is open from the middle of May until the middle of October. It is wise for those who wish to stay at the stone construction lodge in the summer season to book a bed well in advance. Dormitories provide a communal atmosphere while smaller, more private rooms are available for two to six persons.

Choice of summits for different levels

On the second day, the push for the summit begins early in the morning as the narrow slope can become congested with human traffic very quickly. The Watzmann consists of three summits: the Hocheck at 2,651 meters is relatively easy to climb and takes about two to three hours to complete from the Watzmannhaus.

The middle point or Mittelspitze at 2,713 meters requires a degree of alpine climbing experience. The south point or Südspitze at 2,712 meters and the descent to the Wimbachgrieshütte lodge on the other side are only suitable for the confident, very fit mountaineers with the necessary climbing equipment. The guides who lead the tours know what is required for each peak and are on hand to offer advice.

Most visitors attempt the Hocheck summit and the Mittelspitze. From there, the return journey takes you back to the Watzmannhaus which once again offers a welcome resting point before heading back down to the valley below.

Once back in the valley, those who are still fit and eager have the choice of a number of tours around the Königssee which also offers overnight accommodation in huts around the crystal-clear lake.

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