Sixteen 'summits' in Germany (work in progress)

This was a stupid idea when it started - it still is.

But I was bored.

At some point, while walking around in a forest in the south-east of Berlin, I came upon a marker denoting that this was the highest mountain in Berlin (the "Großer Müggelberg" at 114,8 meters). It hardly qualifies as a mountain and it's in the middle of a forest, so you don't even have a view.

But at that point, ignoring broadcast towers and various other buildings, it's was the highest peak in Berlin.

Then, in 2013, someone decided to pile some more rubble on top of the 'Teufelsberg' (which used to be with 114.7 meters just ten centimeters smaller than the "Großer Müggelberg") and raised it up to 120,1 meters, making it the highest peak in Berlin. (Putting a pile of rubble wasn't specifically done to make it the highest peak - some investment company tried to built some apartments there and got as far as piling up some stuff before works stopped.)

Two years later, a another company that piles up rubble from demolished buildings had put up enough of that in Pankow to create the "Arkenberge" and make them 120.7 meters high - creating a new 'highest peak'.

But then, "Teufelsberg" und "Arkenberge" are artificial (essentially both are landscaped rubble dumps), while the "Großer Müggelberg" is a natural peak. (Which is now reflected by the sign on top of it, which used to say "Highest Peak of Berlin" and is now replaced by one that claims "Highest Natural Peak of Berlin".

The basic point being - the concept of a 'highest summit' in Berlin is an arbitrary one.

Although that is true for many 'highest' superlatives. Does the highest point of a building count? Or just the 'Architectural Top' (which excludes masts and antennas)? 'The highest accessible point? The highest occupied floor? Do towers count? Or just 'buildings' (with at least half of the height being habitable)?

So it's no wonder that even something like the 'highest peak in Berlin' is a somewhat debatable concept.

Not that it matters.

More relevant is that some years ago I didn't have any 'proper' travelling scheduled for a couple of months during summer. So I looked for something to keep me from sitting at home.

I decided to rent a car for the weekend and just drive to - somewhere.

For now special reason except for "Why not?" and "I've never been there", I decided to drive Magdeburg. And as that hardly fills a weekend, I also went to the "Brocken", which is the highest mountain in the "Harz" area. And the highest peak in Sachsen-Anhalt.

And only a few kilometers away, there's the "Wurmberg", which happens to be the highest mountain in Niedersachsen.

So, together with Berlin, I had visited the highest peaks of three German states.

Not that impressive.

But when I had no real travel plans the next summer, I rented a car again and looked for some place to go.

Again, I had no reason to go anywhere specific - just some place I could drive to and where I hadn't been before.

So why not look for some other peak to travel to?

The closest one to Berlin (excluding the ones in Berlin itself) is at "Helpter Berge" in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. So I drove there.

So when a similar situation arose in 2016, I rented a car and set out for the highest point (and peak) in Brandenburg and the highest peak in Sachsen.

The whole thing was getting a bit silly. But not worse than visiting cities by size or alphabetical order. Or by throwing darts at maps.

And I'm running out of reasonable weekend trips. Driving to Rheinland-Pfalz, the Saarland or Baden-Württemberg to see a mountain makes no sense. And the it's unlikely that I take the whole thing serious enough to fly somewhere nearby and rent a car there.

So I'm not sure what will come out of this. At the moment, it's just a collection of short trips I took.

Berlin - Müggelberg

That's where it started. At the time I first went there, it still had the simple sign that said 'Highest mountain in Berlin'. In the years since. the simple info sign has been replaced by a ridiculous 'summit cross' and the inscription is now 'Highest natural mountain in Berlin'.

Mueggelberg old sign

Sachsen-Anhalt - Brocken

The main reason to go there was to visit Magdeburg. And I visited Magdeburg mostly because there wasn't any specific reason to select it. Places like Dresden, Leipzig or even Dessau and Meißen have some well things that come to mind when you hear the name - the Zwinger, the Frauenkirche, the Gewandhaus, Bauhaus, Junkers and porcelain.

But the only thing I associated with Magdeburg was that, back when the GDR existed, passing the Magdeburg exit on the highway meant that you were nearly back in West Germany and it wouldn't take that long to get to Helmstedt.

So with no idea what Magdeburg would be like, it seemed a good idea to visit Magdeburg and have a look.

It turned out that the most interesting place in Magdeburg was the one I was staying at: the Grüne Zitadelle, a building designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, which has a somewhat unusual look and also houses a small hotel.

There's also a boat tour along the Elbe river and a decent zoo in Magdeburg, but that's pretty much it.

As this didn't fill the weekend, I drove on to visit the Brocken, the highest mountain in Sachsen-Anhalt.

Brocken Summit Brocken Summit from observation tower

The weather was a bit mediocre when I walked up to the summit, but still mostly dry, but when I was about to head back to the car, it started to pour, so I just took the narrow gauge train back down to the car.

In retrospect, it would have been easier to take the train up the Brocken and then walk down, but at least that was the somewhat drier option.

Niedersachsen - Wurmberg

From the Brocken (see above) the highest mountain in Niedersachsen is just across the valley.

(The ski jump on Wurmberg can be seen in this picture taken at the Brocken observation tower.)

Wurmberg seen from Brocken

So as I was nearby anyway, I drove to a parking spot at the Wurmberg and started to walk up.

Stairs at Wurmberg

There wasn't much of a view when I got up there, since some fog had rolled in.

Look down Wurmberg ski jump in the fog

The restaurant at the top wasn't crowded - especially in the outdoor area. So I got me a coffee and started to head back to the car.

Wurmberg summit marker Wurmberg summit marker

Again, it started to rain.

While there's no train going down the Wurmberg, there's an aerial tramway, so I took that.

Cable car down Wurmberg

Not a sensible idea - again that meant walking up and taking transport down, which is a bit inconvenient. And the valley station turned out to be lower down the hill than the place where I parked the car, so I essentially paid money to be able to do more uphill walking.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - Helpter Berge

Getting to the highest point in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern doesn't require much uphill walking, but is kind of dull. There is a broadcasting tower nearby and there's a wide fence around it. There's also a road leading up to the broadcasting tower. So I just drove to the parking spot next to the tower and walked along the fence (not really a path there, but at least some sort of trail) until I got around the fenced in area and to the summit marker.

Helpter Berge Helpter Berge

There seems to be a nicer path up to that marker (you can kind of see it behind the 'summit cross'), but that leads to another parking place closer to the foot of the hill. As the car wasn't parked there, I walked back along the trail next to the fence.

Brandenburg - Heidehöhe

The highest point/peak in Brandenburg is one of the badly defined things again.

The 'Heidehöhe' is on the border of Brandenburg and Sachsen. But the summit of this hill is about ten meters or so behind the border on the Sachsen side. So the highest point in Brandenburg is just the highest point on the borderline, which is somewhat unsatisfying.

At least, there's an information display and a stone marker at that point, so it is marked somehow. (The stone stairs in the background lead up to the summit of Heidehöhe, a few meters above.)

Highest point in Brandenburg

A bit further along the way (on the Brandenburg side) there's a nice observation tower that has some good views over treetops.

Heidehoehe Tower Heidehoehe Tower view

If you don't like the 'just a point on the borderline' as the highest point, the highest peak in Brandenburg is just a few kilometers away on the Kutschenberg. It's 40 centimeters lower than the highest point, but at least it's a summit.

As I was in the area anyway, I visited that as well.

Kutschenberg, Brandenburg

Sachsen - Fichtelberg

Getting to the summit of Fichtelberg was the easiest of the trips so far - you can just drive there.

Fichtelberg summit sign Fichtelberg stone marker

The only physical effort is to get out of the car and walk up to the top of the observation tower for a better view all around.

Fichtelberg view Fichtelberg view

When I got there, before noon, the weather was still nice.

As the Czech Republic is not far away (literally just down the street and then a step over the border) I went for a bit of a walk in the hills there. (Where I got surprised by a thunderstorm, but happened to be close to a disused ski-lift station that had a bit of an overhanging roof, so I could wait out the worst of it before walking on.)

In the afternoon I went to Oberwiesenthal (the village at the bottom of the Fichtelberg), initially just to go for a snack. Then I noticed that they rent out 'Monsterrollers' there (essentially oversized kick-scooters with large wheels). They are available at some other places (I had seen some on Wurmberg), but I've never been on one.

You rent the 'monster roller' at Oberwiesenthal, then ride the aerial tramway up the mountain and then it's (mostly) just running downhill back to the rental station.


Fichtelberg aerial tramway Fichtelberg aerial tramway

When riding up to the summit, the weather was still quite pleasant and there were even sunny patches.

Unfortunately the grey clouds moved in quickly and by the time I was on the trail, thunder could be heard and lightning could be seen. Followed by heavy rains and, subsequently, a bit of hail as well (in June!). So while it's fun to ride a 'monster roller', there are presumably better conditions to do it in.

Bayern - Zugspitze

I was in Munich for a couple of days and decided to do a day tour to the highest mountain in Bavaria (which also happens to be the highest mountain in Germany).

In the end, it turned out to be little more than a "checkmarking" trip.
Been there, done that.

The main issue was that I had only a limited time slot to go there. It was just a single day where I had enough time for a visit there. And due to some change of plans, I didn't even have the whole day. as planned, but needed to be back in Munich in the early afternoon.

So I drove to Eibsee early in the morning, took the train up the mountain (which is a bit dull, as the last four kilometers or so are in a tunnel, so there's not much of a view) and then the final bit to the summit platform in the aerial tramway.

The final bit is surely a great experience in fine weather, but on that Sunday the view from the Glacier aerial tramway looked like this:

Near Zugspitze summit

And on the Zugspitz platform, the view wasn't any better.

Zugspitz view in the fog Zugspitz view in the fog Zugspitz view in the fog Zugspitz view in the fog

Additionally, the path to the real summit was closed.

Summit access closed

The actual summit is the one with the golden cross (visible in some of the images above) on it. It's just a short distance away, but as there is no secured wide path with railings leading up to it, you can only go there if you wear a climbing harness and hook into the safety cable.

It's not difficult to go there. While it looks on the picture as if you would need to scale a steep rockface, there are fixed steel ladders on the side of the rock. The climbing harness is just for safety, as there are some steep drops nearby. You don't need to do any climbing to get from the platform to the summit.

But the path access was closed, so walking over to the real summit wasn't even an option.

Without anything else to do and nothing to see, I took the Eibsee Cable Car back down to Eibsee and drove back to Munich from there.

The cloud layer almost reached down to the Eibsee - only just before the descent finished there was a bit of a view to be had.

Cable car cables from Eibsee Eibsee from cable car

And that's it for now.

As already mentioned, the whole thing is a bit daft and I'm unlikely to put any real effort in visiting all 16 summits.

I was spending a couple of days about 40km from the highest peak of Nordrhein-Westfalen, had a car available (sort of), but didn't bother to visit the Langenberg. So it's not a high priority activity.

But then again, the peaks are not going to move anytime soon...

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