The Mountain Manager | DW Travel | DW | 21.08.2005

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The Mountain Manager

Manfred Feldmeier's workplace is tops -- literally. He is the manager of Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze. He tells DW-WORLD what it's like when the air is thin every workday.

Germany's highest summit: The Zugspitze

Germany's highest summit: The Zugspitze

My workplace is at a height of 2,940 meters (9,640 feet). I am the so-called summit manager for the "Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn" on the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain (2962 m). We operate the summit station, the lifts and the restaurants on the mountain.

Everything OK?

Manfred Feldmeier Zugspitze

Manfred Feldmeier at his workplace

During the week, I live on the mountaintop in a company apartment. Depending on weather conditions, I wake up between 5:15 and 5:30 a.m. There's not a single month in the year where it doesn't snow. Today, it was -11 Celsius (12 F) and there was snow on the ground, so the first thing I had to do was shovel the snow and throw sand. After that, I did my normal work. I set up the cabins on the cablecar and check that they are operational. I also turn on the lights and the machines that read the tickets. And then I check if the cablecar cable has to be de-iced.

Ticket please?

BdT: Eisig ist es auf der Zugspitze

August weather on the Zugspitze can be fiercely cold

After I've eaten breakfast, around 7 a.m., I do a test run on the cablecar. I ride it from the summit to the base station to make sure everything is alright. If nothing is wrong, then I ride back to the top, frequently with the first guests. On the test run to the bottom, my wife rides along. The night before, she takes the last gondola up. She works as a cleaning lady on the Zugspitze, so we see each other every day.

During the day, I am responsible for the visitors who are descending from the summit. I stand at the gate on the first floor where the cars go back down and check the customers' tickets. Aside from that, if there's any small thing that needs doing, like changing a light bulb in the restroom, I do that too. If it's something bigger, then I call up a repairman.

Back to the valley

Briefmarke vom Briefträger

The post office even delivers and picks up mail from the summit station

I usually take a lunch break between 1:30 and 2 p.m., when I go to my apartment and cook something to eat. After that it's back to my workstation. I take the next-to-last gondola down the mountain, officially that's 4:45 pm but sometimes it isn't until 7:00 pm. As a rule, I stay at the top until the last visitor has left. With the last gondola, I ride back to the summit with my wife.

While she goes about her business, I check everything one more time. The station is shut down, the electricity turned off, all the doors that lead outdoors are locked and the lights turned off. My day is over sometime between 8 and 10 pm. Should a mountain climber be in trouble though, then I have to make sure he gets help but, thank God, that doesn't happen too often.

Hobby: Nativity scenes

Manfred Feldmeier Zugspitze

Manfred Feldmeier makes sure the gondolas are in perfect running condition

When I am finished eating dinner, I work on my hobby -- making nativity scenes. Sometimes my children -- I have a son and a daughter -- come to visit. I don't have any problem working on the mountain, the altitude doesn't affect me. Once a day, I have to take a tablet to increase my red blood cell count. Everybody who stays up on the mountain has to do that. When I have vacation, well, I can't stay in the mountains all the time and so I almost always go to the Baltic Sea."

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