A sunrise has something magical about it - perhaps that ability to provoke delight in the heart of every photographer and nature lover. On holiday, you would mostly watch a sunrise at the seaside. Sunrise watching in the mountains is quite a rare opportunity, since you normally have to climb the summit on foot in the dark, or even spend a night high in the mountains. Here in Grainau you can watch a sunrise on Mount Zugspitze without any effort - a great offer for sunrise fans.
6:30 am: Having to wake up at 5:30 am and leave your warm bed on a cold Saturday morning isn't really that great. But, anticipation is the best joy, so going to the bathroom is easier than usual. A quick look out into the darkness doesn't reveal that much, however, the clear starry sky and the dark outline of the Zugspitze high above promise a gigantic sunrise today. We quickly put on our ski clothes, pack our skis and boots and of course our camera into the car, and here we go to the Eibsee cablecar station. It's impressive to see how many cars are on the way towards the Zugspitze car park at this early hour. A caravan of lights flows up the curvy slope in front of us.
6:40 am: The spacious Zugspitze parking lot is already occupied to a great extent, but we are able to find a free parking space with the help of the parking attendants. We quickly pick the skis, the boots and the camera out of the car and head for the entrance. First, we have to wait in a queue at the ticket office - so many visitors have booked the sunrise ride. Even before the official opening time, the first cablecar is already on its way to the summit. Our booking confirmations are exchanged for a wristband, which can later be used for breakfast at the Panorama Restaurant.
7:00 am: Our cablecar starts exactly at 7:00. It is as full as it normally should be around 8:30 am, when skiers, snowboarders and other visitors take the first ride to get to the summit early. Today, however, many guests have tripods and large bags with photo equipment instead of skis, snowboards or ski boot bags. Already on the way up the first light of dawn can be seen in the distance.
7:20 am: At the summit station, cablecar attendants assist to direct the stream of visitors up to the summit. Those who have brought their winter sports equipment with them can leave it in the wall brackets. Just two more floors to go on foot or by lift, and we reach the viewing terrace. It's quite cold up here at this time of day and without the sun. However, we are quite lucky today, as the day temperature is expected slightly below 0°C. The photographers are now lined up along the parapet, looking out to the east, where the sky is gradually changing colour. The view is fantastic. The morning is amazingly clear, with the snow-covered peaks all easy to make out.
7:43 am: Now I'm getting a bit impatient, as it feels really chilly here on the plateau, even with my skiing equipment on. The others must be really tough, as standing out in the cold wind with just your jeans on is quite challenging. No wonder that some visitors are stamping their feet and rubbing their hands together to get warm. But here is the sun at last. Slowly, it rises above the mountain ridges and throws its light over to us. What a magical sight!
8:00 am: As soon as the sun goes up, everyone disappears from the plateau. We are looking forward to getting warm and enjoying our breakfast at the 'Panorama 2.962' restaurant as well. So we go downstairs and enter the warm restaurant, where tables are already laid out for the sunrise worshippers. The buffet offers a huge choice, whether Bavarian with white sausage, pretzels and Obatzda, or continental with scrambled or fried eggs, bacon and sausages. Muesli, fruit, curds and yoghurt are there along with fresh buns, cheese and cold cuts. In addition, you can try waffles or Nutella pizza for the sweet. I wish my stomach were bigger. The coffee chases away the last sleepiness. After the stomach gets full, the next part of the day can now start: snow fun on the slopes!
8:40 am: We join the first winter sports enthusiasts, who have now reached the Zugspitze summit with the first official cablecar ride. Down at the Zugspitzplatt, I quickly get a locker to stow my camera and winter boots, and now I'm ready to hit the slopes. The sun, now shining high in the sky, blesses and warms me pleasantly as I start riding my curves down the slope. It will be a perfect day on the Zugspitze!
Tips & Infos:
As the sun rises earlier in summer, sunrise watching trips are only possible in the autumn and winter season. Check the offers from the Bavarian and Tyrolean Zugspitzbahn operator companies and make an early reservation, since the tickets are few and the events get fully booked in advance. The ticket normally includes a round trip with the cablecar and a hearty breakfast on the summit. You can combine sunrise watching with a day on the slopes.
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