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Schneeernerhaus (2010)

Schneeernerhaus (2010)

location Southern flank of the Zugspitze on the Zugspitzplatt; Bavaria , Germany ; Valley location:  Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Mountain range Wetterstein Mountains
Geographical location: 47 ° 24 '59.8 "  N , 10 ° 58' 46.5"  E Coordinates: 47 ° 24 '59.8 "  N , 10 ° 58' 46.5"  E
Altitude 2656  m above sea level NHN
Schneeernerhaus (Wetterstein Mountains and Mieming Range)
Built June 20, 1931
Construction type Research station
Web link

The Schneeernerhaus is a former hotel in the Alps that has been used as an environmental research station since 1999. It is located directly below the summit of the Zugspitze at an altitude of 2656  m above sea level. NHN .

It was opened on June 20, 1931 and housed the mountain station of the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn and a tourist hotel. The Zugspitze summit was reached by cable car from the Schneefernerhaus. In 1938 a pedestrian tunnel was opened between the ridge station of the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn and the Schneefernerhaus. From 1945 to 1952 the hotel was confiscated by the US Army as a Recreation Facility .

On May 15, 1965, an avalanche that hit the hotel's sun terrace and the lifts on the Zugspitzplatt left 10 dead and 21 injured. This event gave the impetus to the introduction of a state avalanche warning service and local avalanche commissions.

After the new train station of the Zugspitzbahn was opened on the Platt in 1988 and the SonnAlpin restaurant was expanded there in 1989 , the hotel and restaurant operations in the Schneefernerhaus were finally ended on January 14, 1992. The remaining tracks of the Zugspitzbahn still serve the operational purposes of the research station for material transport and special passenger trains.

The environmental research station Schneefernerhaus has been the highest research station in Germany since 1999. Nine German research institutes are currently conducting permanent studies there and form the consortium partners of the station with the Free State of Bavaria. The operating company UFS GmbH has been responsible for the station since 2007. The BG UFS GmbH office has been set up at the bifa Umweltinstitut, Augsburg, where all the central organizational and administrative tasks of the operating company have been bundled since January 1, 2007.


Buildings and logistics

Schneeernerhaus (2012)
Conference room 'Gletscherstube' of the environmental research station Schneefernerhaus

The environmental research station is a twelve-story building with a large roof terrace and several small terraces.

The scientists' measuring devices and research instruments are primarily located on the terraces. In the building, with a total of over 5000 m², you will find the offices of BG UFS GmbH and the permanently represented researchers, laboratories, training and conference rooms as well as storage rooms and workshops. There are also rooms available for up to 51 overnight guests. Five double rooms and ten rooms for three to six people. Four conference rooms for 16 to a maximum of 80 people make the environmental research station a venue for meetings and congresses.

The station can be reached in four different ways: The most common way is the research cable car from Zugspitzplatt. The cable car is operated by BG UFS GmbH itself and can transport up to eight people as required. The journey time from the Zugspitzplatt is around three minutes.

For heavy loads and larger groups of visitors, the cogwheel railway of the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn can be requested, which goes directly from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the station in about 90 minutes.

There is also the option of walking to the Schneeernerhaus from Zugspitzplatt. Here you only have to conquer almost 100 meters in altitude. It should be noted, however, that it is a challenging alpine terrain without paved paths.

Experienced mountaineers can also reach the environmental station via several tours from the valley. For the ascent, depending on the route and your own fitness, up to ten hours must be allowed for.


Virtual Institute Snowernerhaus

Terrace with measuring instruments

The UFS Virtual Institute , to which nine other organizations belong , is managed by the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection at the environmental research station :

German Weather Service, German Aerospace Center, Helmholtz Center Munich, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Max Planck Society, Technical University Munich, Federal Environment Agency, University of Augsburg.

The Free State of Bavaria and nine other institutions together form the consortium partners of BG UFS GmbH. The research institutions have rented rooms for laboratories and terrace areas for their instruments from BG UFS GmbH. With the help of BG UFS GmbH, you can conduct your research on the station permanently.

Representatives of these ten organizations form the aforementioned Science Team (see above), which is responsible for coordinating the eight main research areas

  1. Satellite observation and early detection
  2. Regional climate and atmosphere
  3. Cosmic radiation and radioactivity
  4. Hydrology
  5. Environmental and altitude medicine
  6. GAW (Global Atmosphere Watch)
  7. Biosphere and geosphere
  8. Cloud dynamics

and the institutions and scientists involved is responsible. The Science Team meets twice a year to exchange information about current and planned research. The scientific coordinator of the science team reports to the consortium council once a year.

In addition to the nine permanently represented research institutions, other institutes have the option of renting from BG UFS GmbH for different periods of time.

Virtual Alpine Observatory (VAO)

The measurement data from the altitude research stations in the Alpine region for atmospheric research or the Alpine water balance are networked via data centers such as the WDC-RSAT in Oberpfaffenhofen and the Leibniz data center in Garching. The network includes research institutions such as the Meteorological Observatory Hohenpeißenberg , Eurac Research (South Tyrol), Otlica (Slovenia), the Observatory Sonnblick (Austria), the high alpine research stations Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat (Switzerland), the Alomar Observatory (Norway) and the Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Grenoble (OSUG) in France and the Vallot Observatory on Mont Blanc . Associated is the Astrophysical Observatory in Abastumani , Georgia.


After the breakthrough of the cog railway tunnel and its completion (pre-stretching of the tracks and overhead lines) on June 20, 1930, it was possible to move larger quantities of building materials and heavy pieces up. After erecting barracks for the construction workers, the blasting work began on the Platt. After completion of this and other preparatory work, passenger traffic should be started as soon as possible. There was only a short period of time from the day the first building materials were transported to the opening of the railway. As the first stage, a wooden structure including lighting, heating, water supply and sewage treatment was erected. The first guests were offered accommodation and meals (initially without overnight accommodation). This wooden structure, which is named in all the plans as the "Provisional Tourist Home", was built from May 26th to July 8th 1930 by the company Christoph & Unmack AG from Niesky / Oberlausitz. At that time it was one of the largest and leading specialty factory for wooden structures of all kinds. With the opening of the rack railway on July 8, 1930, the wooden structure, which was built in 39 days, went into operation.

The construction of the actual “Schneefernerhaus” only began after the company opened. Part of the building site blasted out of the rock still had to be kept free for building material storage and working machines. On the mountain slope, which is about 45 ° and partly even steeper, no further work space could be found than the construction site created by the blast. At Christmas 1930, the current snowman house was completed as the second expansion stage.

If necessary, the rest of the hotel building should be carried out as a third component, so that the wooden structure above could have remained and could have been used for simple tourist rooms. The last part of the planned hotel could have taken its place in the fourth expansion stage. But the hotel was not expanded and the wooden structure was demolished after the devastating avalanche accident in 1965.

Cable cars around the Schneefernerhaus

The summit lift

According to the concession planning, the final stretch of the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn from the Schneefernerhaus to the summit should be designed as a funicular railway running in the tunnel . For several reasons, the construction management decided in favor of the cable car while the work was still going on . The investigations of the summit rock by geologists contradicted the blasting of a tunnel to below the summit. In addition, the Munich house built on the summit and the summit itself could have been endangered by the explosions. These concerns were confirmed by the external blasting at the summit for the construction site of the mountain station. Ideal reasons for the cable car were that after the half-hour ascent to the summit through the tunnel, the travelers wanted to enjoy the "wonderful and constantly expanding view" unhindered. After a thorough investigation for an ideal route, the most favorable solution was found in the route used. The total length was 680 m horizontally, 732 m measured at an angle, and the difference in height between the two stations was 279 m. The question of space for the summit station was very difficult to solve. The decision was preceded by tough negotiations with the supervisory authority, the State Committee for Nature and the Alpine Association. In the end, a rock head was blown down at 2945  m . The rock head was replaced by the tower of the summit station so as not to impair the landscape. This aspect was no longer taken into account when the glacier railway was built.

The roadway was formed by two fully locked suspension ropes. The two suspension ropes had a 43 mm diameter, a cross section of 1184 mm² and a breaking load of 173.8 t. In the valley station, they were attached to anchoring drums in a vertical position directly behind the drive. The drums, also called bollards, were cemented into the foundation walls. In the mountain station they were each tensioned by a 48 t weight. The column heads of the two columns had a special design compared to other systems. The support shoes (called saddles) could be swiveled around their horizontal central axis so that they could adapt to the vertical deflections that occurred when driving over the fixed point. This should cause a gentler crossing of the supports and protection of the suspension ropes. The two vehicles ("cabins" or "gondolas") were located on a suspension on an eight-wheel drive. A safety brake was installed on the drive. The cabin itself was initially made of light metal over a steel frame. The twelve-sided cabin type was the best that the executing company Adolf Bleichert & Co. had to offer. The cabins held 26 people including a guide. Thanks to all-round glazing and the small capacity, every passenger could look outside. The summit lift was renovated at the beginning of February 1980. In the course of this work, the railway received new light metal cabins and a new safety system.

In 1991/1992 the old summit lift was replaced by the glacier lift. Since July 8, 1992, the glacier railway has been running directly to the Platt and no longer to the Schneefernerhaus.

Connecting railways from the Schneefernerhaus to the Platt

In 1949 the first slope railway ("old slope railway") was built by Heckel. It was designed as a small four-person aerial tramway. In 1966 another connecting line was built by the PHB as a twelve-person aerial tramway. It started right next to the railway station hall of the Schneefernerhaus and went to the current square of the Sonn-Alpin. This went into operation at the beginning of April 1966 and ran for the last time on October 18, 1992. From 1992 until now Template: future / in 2 years, the No. 1 car body including the hangers and running gear has remained unchanged. For the next World Ski Championships, the car body is going to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen community and is being overmolded for advertising purposes.

In 1977 the old slope railway was replaced by a single-track winch railway with a 45-person cabin called the "new slope railway". The plant was built by the Küpfer company. It has not been in operation since January 2010 and was finally dismantled in winter 2010/2011 and replaced by the “research cable car” that opened in 2009.

Tyrolean cable car and pedestrian tunnel

The Tiroler Zugspitzbahn used to be easy to reach from the Schneefernerhaus, because from 1937 there was an 800 meter long tunnel. The tunnel led across the Zugspitz south-west ridge from the Schneefernerhaus to the “Hotel Zugspitzkamm Station” of the Tyrolean Zugspitzbahn ( 2805  m ), which is 150 meters higher . In the uncovered, illuminated tunnel with a few "windows" to the Zugspitzplatt, the border between Germany and Austria was reached after about half the way, marked by a door and the two national signs. After the new Zugspitzbahn, which ran directly from Ehrwald -Obermoos to the Zugspitz-Westgipfel, was opened on the Tyrolean side , the building on the Zugspitzkamm lost its importance. It was no longer accessible and tourist use of the pedestrian tunnel ended. Today it is used for permafrost research by the Chair of Slope Movements (Michael Krautblatter) at the Technical University of Munich.

Avalanche accidents, fires, American occupation

Schneeernerhaus on the slope, below Zugspitzplatt with SonnAlpin

On April 20, 1945, a meeting of high-ranking NSDAP members in the Schneefernerhaus was the target of an Allied air raid, which, however, failed.

After the Second World War until 1952, the Schneefernerhaus was confiscated by the US Army as a recreation center. After the clearance, the hotel was extensively renovated and reopened on December 13, 1952.

On May 15, 1965 at around 1 p.m., a serious avalanche accident occurred . A large avalanche broke out above the Schneefernerhaus, the eruption of which stretched from pillar 1 of the summit lift in an arc to the border house and was 300 to 400 meters long. Part of the snow masses literally rolled over the hotel. Nine people were thrown from the terraces to the Platt. Seven of them died, and another was killed in an overturned chimney. Two more dead were found in the slope railway. There were a total of 10 deceased, 21 seriously injured and around 80 moderately and slightly injured. In the following days, more snow masses were cleared by an avalanche with high-explosive shells from a howitzer that had been dismantled and transported up the mountain by helicopter. At first, anti-tank missiles were to be used for this purpose, but their effectiveness was not convinced. The accident gave the impulse to found the Avalanche Warning Service Bavaria .

On October 21, 1994, the Grainau volunteer fire brigade was called to work in the Schneefernerhaus at 12:26 a.m. During the conversion to a research station, material caught fire due to welding work. The fifth floor and the roof truss burned out completely. The extinguishing work was extremely difficult. The emergency services from the mountain rescue service and fire brigade had to be brought to the scene by train, and each journey took a good half an hour. Attempts to extinguish the fire with a helicopter had to be abandoned because of the heavy smoke development. The fire was not extinguished until around 1 p.m.

Web links

Commons : Schneefernerhaus  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. Arrival and transport of loads. Operating company Umweltforschungsstation Schneefernerhaus GmbH
  3. Virtual Alpine Observatory (German and English)
  4. New construction of the research cable car and implementation of the rockfall and avalanche protection concept. In: Betriebsgesellschaft Umweltforschungsstation Schneefernerhaus GmbH (Ed.): 10 years of climate and altitude research at the Schneefernerhaus. (PDF) November 2009, p. 26 f.
  6. Permafrost - Schneefernerhaus. Retrieved November 8, 2019 .
  8. Bernhard Schmidt: The million mountain. (pdf) (excerpt). Archived from the original on November 16, 2008 ; Retrieved May 18, 2014 .
  9. Passauer Neue Presse No. 114 of May 19, 1965
  10. Oberallgäu district - Avalanche warning service. Retrieved November 8, 2019 .