I am Off. To Vent, the Mountaineering Village
Bright the summer sun is shining in the valley and the temperature in the car is rising to 34 degrees Celsius. Time to leave the heat behind for a weekend in the mountains. Located at the very end of Ötztal Valley, Vent is nestled in the heart of the Ötztal Alps and is a great base for walking to Martin-Busch-Hut and bagging the summit of Kreuzspitze.
A Peak Baggers Village
About 100 people are living here in the small mountain community of Vent year-round. Most of them make their living as farmers or by providing accommodation for mountaineers. Vent sits at 1,895 meters and such a high altitude translates to a very pleasant 23 degrees Celsius this June afternoon. Resting in the shadow of „Three-Thousanders“, high altitude peaks averaging 3,000 meters in elevation, Vent is one of Tirol’s most scenic locations. The church spire rises above a handful of homes, inns and farmsteads.
Vent is one of only twenty “Mountaineering Villages” in all of Austria. This recognition is bestowed on mountain villages that have adopted actions for sustainable Alpine tourism and mountain agriculture and live in tune with nature. (Photo: Tirol Tourist Board, Bernhard Aichner)
As in most Tirolean villages, the church spire dominates the community of Vent. Franz Senn, a priest in Vent from the 1860s onwards, has laid the foundation of modern mountaineering in Tirol and was a co-founder of the German Alpinist Association. Senn scaled the heights of the Ötztal Alps and developed hiking routes for people to experience the beauty they had to offer. He trained mountain guides and expanded the local network of shelters—a remarkable pioneering feat in those days when maps of this vast glacial area didn’t even exist.
Vent’s Bragging Rights: The Tallest Mountain in North Tirol
Today, Vent is known as a great base for launching mountain adventures in mountaineering and hiking. Though lacking a ski resort of its own, almost any outdoor adventure is at your fingertips here. Belonging to the village of Sölden, world-class skiing opportunities are only minutes away. Amid the myriad of activities, Vent still preserves it original, quaint charm. The only chair lift in the community runs in the summer and fall for easy access up the mountain and to Stablein Alm On-Mountain Restaurant. From there, a trail winds all the way up to Breslauer Hut at an elevation of 2,844 meters.
Breslauer Hut is a popular base for launching mountain adventures in hiking and ski touring atop Wildspitze, the tallest mountain in North Tirol, coming in at 3,768 meters. (Photo: Tirol Tourist Board, Mario Webhofer)
We wanted to spend the night in a village inn and before dinner we strolled through the village to get to a tiny Mountaineer’s Chapel, which has been the venue of ARTeVent series of events for three years, hosting photographic exhibitions and art projects. Looking up along Venter Ache River to the end of the valley, we watched the last rays of the setting sun bath Rofenhöfe Farmsteads in a mellow light. Lying at an elevation of 2,000 meters, Rofenhöfe are Austria’s highest-lying permanent Alpine settlement.
Celebrity Spotted: „The Iceman“
Vent Area’s most prominent son is Ötzi, the 5000-year-old body of „the Iceman“. The mummy was found in 1991 in the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border by two tourists who were walking off the path from Fineilspitze (elev. 3,514m) to Tisenjoch Col (elev. 3,280m). Because the body was covered in ice shortly after his death, it had only partially deteriorated. This well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived around 3,300 BCE has offered an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic Europeans. As the body had been located inside Italian territory, Ötzi and his belongings are on display at the Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, the capital of South Tyrol, Italy.
Recommended Hike in Vent: Martin-Busch-Hut and Kreuzspitze Peak
3,455-meter Kreuzspitze Peak is one of only few Three-Thousanders in Ötztal Valley that is not capped by a steep peak of ice, which makes it one of the easier to climb. However, set the alarm clock early to make it here before the sun does.
From the village center, follow the southbound dirt road that coincides with the E5 European Long Distance Path for a while. (Photo: Michael Gams, Tirol Tourist Board)
The dirt road follows the right side of remote Niedertal Mountain Valley, all while under the watchful guise of Ötztal’s majestic snow and ice-crowned peaks. Niedertalbach Creek gurgles below and mountain goats often graze roadside. (Photo: Michael Gams, Tirol Tourist Board)
View down to Martin-Busch-Hut. There, a yellow sign points the way to Kreuzspitze. (Photo: Michael Gams, Tirol Tourist Board)
On your left and on your right, the trail passes two tarns that reflect the surrounding summit blocks on clear days. (Photo: Michael Gams, Tirol Tourist Board)
As the trail nears the top, its gets steeper and we have to cross snowfields. Snow may remain here on the summit ridge well into August. (Photo: Michael Gams, Tirol Tourist Board)
Heading back towards Vent, the high-altitude Mountaineering Village at the end of Ötztal Valley. (Photo: Michael Gams, Tirol Tourist Board)
On your way back to Vent, Martin-Busch-Hut provides the perfect rest stop for hikers. Offering a comfy base for the night, the hut extends a warm welcome and a sincere invite to call it a day.
- Difficulty Rating: Difficult
- Trailhead: The Mountaineering Village of Vent in Ötztal Valley
- Approximate Hiking Time: 9 hours (5-hour ascent, 4-hour descent)
- Vertical Gain & Loss: 1,530m
- Distance: 11.51km
- Trail Details (GPS Tracks & Google Earth)
More detailed information on Vent can be found at tyrol.com/vent