The Hills Are Alive With the Sounds of Hikers, Climbers, Vacationers

by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn Rich
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Garmisch-Partenkirchen area has been a popular vacation destination in Europe for many years.

During all seasons, the area has something for everyone. In the winter, it is a cool spot for skiers, snowboarders and all manner of snow sport adventurers. In the summer, it is a hot spot for climbing, hiking, biking, mountaineering and much more.

Located in the German state of Bavaria, Garmisch is surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, a place known for the coveted Edelweiss flower. It is said that having Edelweiss is the badge of a true soldier. These small, white, star-like flowers grow high up on the cliffs and are now protected. So, if you do come across these blossoms, keep in mind: no picking, only pics.

Towering high above the city is a summit known as Alpspitze. At 8,622 feet, it lends a familiar landmark and has a familiar place along the skyline. There is a cable car available to take most of the way up the mountain.

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran climber, this mountain offers hikes and trails that can be inviting and challenging.  Climbing paths are equipped with static lines and anchored ladders for addition safety and assistance.

It is advised that you bring your own equipment, including a helmet, harnesses and carabineers. If you do not own your own climbing gear, you can rent it at Outdoor Recreation either on Ramstein, or in Garmisch. They can also advise you what the best equipment will be for you and the conditions you will be climbing in.

I would highly recommend checking the weather to ensure you will have the elements on your side. Bring a jacket; it may be cold up at the top, even if it doesn’t seem so at the foot. Snacks and water are more must-brings; there are no places to grab food on the way up or at the top.

Make sure that you wear comfortable footwear. The climb can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours (one direction), depending on the weather, your skill level and the number of other guests on the mountain. Halfway up the trail is no place to realize that your new stems are causing blisters.

If it is your first climbing endeavor, there is a treat for you once you reach the summit. You will have a grand view of Garmisch-Partenkirchen from above and the surrounding Alps mountain range.

If climbing is not your cup of tea, there are also incredible walks and hikes that you can take in the area.

One of the popular places to scope is the Partnachtklamm gorge.

The trail leading up to them begins similar to any other hike, but soon the trail takes a turn for the adventurous.  Once you reach the river, the path begins to take on new life as it carves through the mountainsides, meandering alongside the stream of water, then in places there are turbulent rapids.

There are places where the waterfalls rumble over where you are walking and roar past you. Some of the archways have low ceiling and are poorly lit, so watch your noggin.

Once through the caves, several paths will take you deeper into the forest and to other falls of various sizes.

If your walks are designed to keep you less entrenched in the forests there are other options to choose from.

 You can also take a tour of the home of the 1936 Olympic opening ceremonies. The stadium that was built for this event still stands and attracts many visitors each year. The grounds are still used for yearly ski jumping competitions of the esteemed Four Hills Tournament.

In the event that you have planned to the best of your ability and Mother Nature still has other plans for the weather, the military’s Edelweiss Lodge and Resort offers many other indoor options for you to enjoy. There are also a number of quaint shops and restaurants throughout the area to pursue at your leisure.

If Garmisch is a little too far for you to get to, but you are still looking for some great outdoor options, just head over to the KMCC Outdoor Recreational Center.

Outdoor Rec has an indoor climbing wall and it’s a good place to get acquainted with climbing or stretch your legs and get back into it.

There are helpful staff members who will assist you during your visit. More information is available at the Outdoor Rec or on the Ramstein website.

Also, not too far from downtown Kaiserslautern is an outdoor adventure park called K1, Waldseilpark Fröhnerhof. There are static and zip lines through the trees. You can climb, swing and slide your way through the pathways above the ground with ease.

You are required to wear proper safety gear they provide you and the gear is included in the fee of €18. You are also required to take a short safety course with a member of the staff. They will show you how to use the harnesses and carabineers so that your outdoor adventure is a safe and happy one.

This is a very family friendly place with a more “keep-your-feet-on-the-ground” type of playground for the little ones. A picnic area is available above the main reception area so that you can observe others going through the obstacles befitting Robinson Crusoe. 

More information can be found on their website at