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Sustainability concept

Measures and categorization

Biggest German mountain railway company 

with responsibility

As the biggest mountain railroad and ski resort operator in Germany, we take responsibility, develop sustainable concepts and create touristic offers that are coherent, sustainable and compatible with one another. According to studies, more than 75 % of the CO2 impact of a skiing vacation is caused by the journey to the destination (VDS). Therefore, the expansion and promotion of local public transport in the Werdenfelser Land region is expressly desired – however, we do not want to leave the responsibility solely to the end costumer!

As a company we focus on the three pillars of sustainability. Ecological, economic and social aspects must be in balance with each other in order to be able to operate sustainably and effectively.

Permanent optimization

Down-to-earth and continuously progressing

The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn (BZB) operates 27 cable car and lift facilities. It is important for us to emphasize that no further expansion or new developments are currently planned. The company is gradually renovating buildings and lift facilities energetically, always with the aim of offering guests the highest possible quality. 

Due to the company’s almost 100-year history, of course there are buildings and systems that do not currently meet the newest standards. One example of this is the Sonnalpin building on Zugspitze. In all structural considerations and planning, it is important to analyze the efficiency of existing infrastructure and implement useful renovations. 

We distance ourselves from competition with other big ski resorts in the Alpine region: We appreciate the qualities of our local mountains, nature and our areas – and want to preserve them.

Facts about the sustainability of the BZB

Regular energy audits for precise energy demand analysis and optimization
GPS data-based snow depth measurement technology in all snow groomers
Conversion of fuels and heating oil to synthetic, biodegradable alternatives
Mostly year-round employment of staff, reduction of seasonal jobs
All-year orientation of the company with seasonal focal points
Installation of intelligent electricity meters to indicate above-average consumption
Current electricity feedback for generator operation (Cable car Zugspitze, cogwheel train)
Maintenance of the near-natural cultural landscape (alpine meadows, alpine lawns)
Feeding the meadow mowing into the regional biogas plant (slopes Garmisch-Classic)
Brake energy recovery in diverse lift and cable car facilities
Reduction of the driving speed and/or the operating vehicles in case of low demand
Reduction in the number of travel cycles at aerial tramways in case of low demand


Aimed, effective and with the latest snow management technology

Regulations in Bavaria
Technically manufactured snow is a pure mixture of cold air and water. Very strict regulations apply to snowmaking in Bavaria, which are controlled by the district office. No additives may be used in Germany, this is also regulated by law. 0.8 % of the Bavarian Alps are used seasonally as ski slopes, 25 % of these are covered with artificial snow.

The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn has completely dispensed with snowmaking systems in the Zugspitze ski area, has completely built back the ski area on Mount Wank and is concentrating snowmaking exclusively on the Garmisch-Classic family ski area.

Whether snowmaking is future-proof depends on the area, altitude and local conditions such as the microclimate.

Water is stored temporarily – not used up
The water for the snowmaking systems in the Garmisch-Classic area is drawn from two reservoirs that are fed by rain and spring water, which is collected over summer. It returns to the natural water cycle in spring when the snow melts.

A concrete example shows that technically produced snow has no negative impact on the slopes or meadows: Only recently, a section of slope where snow is produced in winter was designated a flora and fauna habitat area.  

Benefits for the ski resort and involved stakeholders
Snowmaking ensures the start of the season on a fixed date, which provides planning security for ski schools, ski rental companies, hotels and accommodation facilities in the region.

Latest snow depth measurement

for effective & economical use of the snow

We are one of the first companies to introduce GPS data-based snow depth measurement.

How does SNOWsat helps with savings?

  • Centimeter-precise snow depth information
  • Effective and economical use of the existing snow
  • Reduction of snowmaking possible
  • Preparation work could be carried out highly efficiently
  • Employees always know where and how much snow is needed

Synthetic diesel

Fuel alternatives for snow groomers

Switching to Shell GTL Fuel Alpine does not require any technical conversion. All 21 snow groomers run on this synthetic fuel.

The synthetic fuel is based on natural gas (instead of mineral oil like diesel) and therefore burns more cleanly and produces fewer local emissions such as nitrogen oxides and particulates.

The synthetic fuel is not water-polluting or toxic, has a low odor, is easily biodegradable, contains virtually no sulphur or aromatic compounds and has a higher cetane number than diesel fuel.

Alternatives in test 
Currently, it is not yet possible to switch completely to hybrid, electric or hydrogen-powered snow groomers. The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn regularly tests vehicles with alternative fuels and cooperates closely with the manufacturers.

Several snow groomers are currently (May 2024) being tested with HVO, a new fossil-free diesel. HVO is based on hydrogenated plant and animal fat waste.



GTL-Shell overview

Almost particle-free combustion
Cold resistant down to -30 °C (based on the CFPP value)
Very low emission class
Changeover for all vehicles in the Zugspitze area and on all snow groomers in the Garmisch-Classic area
Consumption per liter: 20-25 liter/hour (depending on the workload for pushing or cable winch work)

Ski slopes in summer

Preserving an intact ecosystem

The piste areas are not only actively used for alpine farming in summer, the vegetation on the alpine lawns and meadows is so intense that the company sometimes has to mow the areas several times a summer.

The meadow mowing is used in the local biogas plant and provides enough energy to supply 17 households for a whole year.

Since 2021, a meadow area in Garmisch-Classic (around the Kreuzwankl ski lift) has been FFH-certified. This high-ranking classification refers to the occurrence of the highly endangered violet copper, which lays its eggs exclusively on the underside of the leaves of the snake knotweed.

Near-natural cultural landscape through alpine farming
Goats, sheep and cattle can be found in the Garmisch-Classic area in summer. The advantages are the preservation of the alpine meadows and high moors as valuable biotope areas and the moistening of the soil by so called "Gangerl": the surface water is temporarily stored in them and ensures a continuous release of water into the environment.

Decision against mountain bike trails
The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn does not transport guests with mountain bikes in the cable cars in order to protect the environment and biotope areas away from the forest roads and to preserve nature as it is.

Conscious in nature

Knowledge transfer and education

The cable cars and cogwheel train take our guests into the mountains, in the midst of nature.

The aim is not only to make the surroundings, the various landscape forms and biotopes visible – various educational offers such as themed trails and guided tours are intended to impart knowledge, raise awareness and educate.

The aim is for our guests to leave the mountain with more knowledge than they brought with them at the beginning.

Protect what you know!

Providing information as a central offer in summer
Alpine theme trail "Natursteig Osterfelder" in the Garmisch-Classic area
Glacier trail on Zugspitze
Free guided glacier tours on Zugspitze

Ongoing projects

Shaping with vision

Expansion of photovoltaic systems on buildings and lift facilities
Reforestation project for pupils with Plant for the Planet (summer 2024)
Plans to generate own electricity, e.g. through a hydroelectric power station
Cooperation with Deutsche Bahn to create incentives for public transportation
New construction of the Kreuzwankl-Ski-Express with a reduction in the number of pillars

A glance into future

Where is it going?

The alpine ski sport is part of the identity of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn. As a touristic company, it is important to have a broad and flexible base and to adapt to external conditions such as a lack of snow and warm temperatures in the winter.

The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn has always been an all-year company that also operates the areas and mountain railroads for hikers and day trippers in the summer. On Zugspitze, the proportion of pedestrians is around 50 %, even in winter; skiers were and are not the only target group. For years, alternative activities such as hiking, tobogganing, exhibitions, guided tours and informative themed trails have been offered.

In the Garmisch-Classic area, technical snowmaking ensures that the season starts on a fixed date and that ski operation continues throughout the winter. Here, too, there are areas that are offered to pedestrians and hikers in winter when ski slopes cannot be opened due to a lack of snow. A combination of hiking trails, restaurants and attractions such as the AlpspiX viewing platform make a trip to the mountain attractive even without skis – and the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn is less dependent on snow conditions. Offering a ski operation, if conditions permit, secures numerous existences and countless jobs in the region; it is the basis of an entire economic sector in the region.