• Newsfeed
  • Google Doodle

The Zugspitze Was First Summited 197 Years Ago Today. Here’s What to Know About Germany’s Highest Mountain

2 minute read

Soaring 2,962 meters over the Wetterstein range stands the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. Google is celebrating the 197-year-anniversary of the mountain’s first ascent with a new Doodle.

Here’s what you need to know about the peak.

Where is Zugspitze?

Located along the border between Germany and Austria, Zugspitze is in the southeastern German state of Bavaria, formerly the Kingdom of Bavaria. The mountain is flanked by three glaciers, two of which are the largest in Germany.

When was the first ascent?

Zugspitze was first summited in 1820 in an effort to prove the mountain was indeed the tallest in the then-Kingdom of Bavaria. The Royal Bavarian Topographic Bureau commissioned Lieutenant Josef Naus, a 27-year-old engineer from the army with the task, ultimately to make an Atlas of Bavaria.

Naus, his survey assistant Johann Georg Tauschl, and a military orderly named Maier, set out on their expedition in July. They trekked along melting glaciers — with a major risk of avalanches — and headed to a shepherd’s hut that would serve as their home base. From there, on Aug. 27, 1820, the team launched their ascent, and ultimately reached the summit in 7 hours and 45 minutes. Soon after storm clouds cloaked the mountain, forcing the team to descend quickly.

Sun on the Zugspitze
Numerous excursionists use the beautiful weather for an excursion to the summit cross on the Zugspitze.Sven Hoppe—picture alliance/Getty Images

However, there is some evidence that others climbers beat Naus’ team to the top. According to mountaineering historians, a map recovered from 1770 “strongly suggests” that Zugspitze was actually conquered 50 years prior, probably by local hunters or shepherds, the Guardian reports.

The first successful winter ascent did not come until Jan. 7, 1882.

Can anyone climb it these days?

Today, visitors can reach the top with far less peril, as a cable-car now runs from the base to the summit. Spectators can enjoy stunning views of limestone peaks over both Austria and Germany. The mountain offers ample hiking opportunities, and is a popular destination for snow sports, including skiing and snowboarding. Zugspitze also boasts the highest ski resort in Germany.

Monday’s Doodle depicts the mighty snow-peaked Zugspitze rising up behind three traditional Bavarian houses bearing the Google letters as hanging signs.


More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com