Amberger Hut, © Anton Thaler
Amberger Hut, © Anton Thaler
Braunschweiger Hut, © Braunschweiger Hütte
Braunschweiger Hut, © Braunschweiger Hütte
Erlanger Hut, © Tirol Werbung
Erlanger Hut, © Tirol Werbung

Ötztal Trek

There is no doubt that the best way to appreciate the natural beauty of Ötztal Valley is by walking through it. Keen hikers will seek out the extensive and demanding Ötztal Trek, possibly one of the most exciting Haute Routes in the Alps. As the raven flies, the distance from the northern end of the Ötztal Valley to the southern end is about 65 kilometers. On the trail, it's over 400 kilometers of wandering: Running the length of the valley from Ötztal-Bahnhof southwards to Obergurgl and Vent on its eastern side and returning along Geigenkamm Ridge northwards on the valley’s west side to Ötztal-Bahnhof, the Ötztal Trek covers 400 kilometers.

The path is split into six partial routes with 22 separate stages. At varying difficulties, it means that hikers of all abilities can enjoy at least some of what the stunning setting has to offer (the shortest sections of the route require just a couple of hours while up to ten hours are needed to complete its hardest sections). The lodge-speckled Ötztal Trek passes through what many mountaineers say is the finest mountain scenery in Tirol. This is a land of Three Thousanders, of crests and ridges, and of glaciers and permanent ice. The entire length of the trek has an elevation gain of 30,000 meters. Many stages along the Ötztal Trek are rated difficult (“Mountain Footpath, black”). In addition to the 22 main stages, there are 15 alternative routes all of which avoid those areas where there is permanent ice, making it easier for those less experienced hikers out there. These routes are usually rated moderate (“Mountain Footpath, red”). Just remember to bring suitable hiking gear and equipment and of course don't take any risks! Like any great adventure, planning is paramount. The great thing about the Ötztal Trek is that it can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be: each of the stages has an access and exit point so that you can choose to complete as many or as few of them as you wish.

For more details on the Ötztal Trek visit www.oetztal.com

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Starting point  

Ötztal Bahnhof

Finishing point

Ötztal Bahnhof

Mountain chain

Ötztal Alps

Length

231.2 km

Duration

23 day(s)

Features

  • Wheelchair-accessible Hiking Route
  • Circular hike

Difficulty rating

difficult (black trails)

Altitude

3,494m 704m

Elevation uphill 17,213m
Vertical metres downhill 17,759m

Fitness level

Technique

Best time of year

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun

Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

* These are approximate values and recommendations. Please take your personal fitness level, technical ability and the current weather conditions into account. Tirol Werbung cannot guarantee that the information provided is correct and accepts no liability.

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Trail description

ÖTZTAL TREK/ROUTE 1 (STAGES 1 – 5)
Ötztal-Bahnhof – Dortmunder Hut – Schweinfurter Hut – Winnebachsee Hut – Amberger Hut – Hochstubai Hut

Ötztal Trek’s Route 1 is the easiest to hike and presents relatively little in the way of technical challenges as the tread is usually ice-free. Stage 4 (Winnebachsee Hut – Amberger Hut) and Stage 5 (Amberger Hut – Hochstubai Hut) require experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to maintain safety. Both stages have an exit point at its beginning, allowing you to descend to the valley.


Stage 1: Ötztal Bahnhof (elev. 704m) – Marlstein – Mareil – Dortmunder Hut (elev. 1,949m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,450/200 meters | Hiking Time: 6.5 hours | Distance: 17 kilometers

Begin your hike from the village of Ötztal-Bahnhof along footpaths, dirt roads and singletrack trails. Despite such a rugged and Alpine setting, the trek to Dortmunder Hut is most agreeable and presents relatively little in the way of technical challenges. Along the way you will ramble through some great stands of evergreens and cross a tiny hamlet en route to a lovely high moor lake, Brandsee Lake, and eventually reach Ambergersee Lake, which makes a fine place for a refreshing swim. The trail continues toward “Sattele” to Marlstein and Mareil, where you could spend the night. If you are feeling more energetic, you can explore Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Weg Trail and gain another 200 vertical meters on your way to Dortmunder Hut in the resort of Kühtai.

Stage 2: Dortmunder Hut (elev. 1,949m) – Schweinfurter Hut (elev. 2,028m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 850/800 meters | Hiking Time: 4 hours | Distance: 10 kilometers

From Dortmunder Hut on the outskirts of Kühtai, the trail takes you up to lovely Finstertal Reservoir with its worthwhile 149-meter high dam. From there, proceed climbing atop Finstertaler Scharte Notch, the highest point on this hike at an elevation of 2,777 meters. From the top, you will soak in sweeping views that include Wildspitze Peak, Tirol’s tallest mountain, and beyond. On the descent from the notch, you will ramble across wide open Alpine pastures along a murmuring brook. A series of switchbacks will take you down to Schweinfurter Hut that is located at the intersection of Horlachtal and Zwieselbachtal valleys.

Stage 3: Schweinfurter Hut (elev. 2,028m) – Winnebachsee Hut (elev. 2,361m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 850/500 meters | Hiking Time: 4.5 hours | Distance: 10 kilometers

From Schweinfurter Hut, the trail heads into scenic Zwieselbachtal Valley past Zwieselbach Alpine Pasture Hut. The dirt road ends at an elevation of 2,150 meters and turns onto a path that scrambles up a talus field and requires some route-finding and endurance. Go in the summer when the tread running atop Zwieselbachjoch Col is snow-free and ice-free and easily takes you to the scoured world of the Zwieselbachferner and Grießkogel Glaciers. From the col, stare down into a cavernous abyss of ice and compacted snow. On the steep and rocky descent from the col you will traverse talus slopes on your way across Winnebachkar Cirque to Winnebachsee Hut.
Stage 4: Winnebachsee Hut (elev. 2,361m) – Bachfallenferner Glacier – Amberger Hut (elev. 2,136m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 700/900 meters | Hiking Time: 5 hours | Distance: 10 kilometers

From Winnebachsee Hut, this trail vigorously climbs the upper reaches of craggy moraines in switchbacks, passing Ernst-Riml-Spitze Spire. If you have the skill and equipment—or an experienced guide—you can scramble up the section to reach the ice of Bachfallenferner Glacier. Bringing crampons and an ice axe is highly recommended for crossing the glacier. The scramble section up to the summit of Gaislehnscharte Notch requires basic climbing skills and adequate gear. From the either side of the notch, the trail zigzags down to Schrankar Cirque and into Inner Sulztal Valley on its way to Amberger Hut, the destination end of this stage.

Stage 5: Amberger Hut (elev. 2,136m) – Wütenkar Saddle (elev. 3,103m) – Hochstubai Hut (elev. 3,174m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,100/100 meters | Hiking Time: 4,5 hours | Distance: 8 kilometers

This stage requires excellent glacier travel skills and adequate gear. Walk southward along the flat valley floor of Sulze. Soon, the route starts to climb the lateral west moraine of Sulztalferner Glacier. Crevasses pose a danger on the section leading to the foot of Wilde Leck and Wütenkarsattel Saddle, and only a roped party with crevasse rescue equipment and expertise should cross. The route continues past a tiny lake on its way to Wütenkarferner Glacier and eventually intersects with the access route that links Sölden with Hochstubai Hut. From here, the trails runs along a broad and view-granting ridge and gains another 100 vertical meters to reach the shelter, Hochstubai Hut.

 

ÖTZTAL TREK/ROUTE 2 (STAGES 6 – 9)
Hochstubai Hut – Hildesheimer Hut – Siegerland Hut – Gasthaus Hochfirst Inn – Brunnenkogelhaus Lodge

Hiking the Ötztal Trek’s Route 2 is an adventure on many a hikers’ bucket list. It follows historic smuggler’s trails across Windachtal Nature Preserve east of Sölden and crosses the border into Italy’s South Tyrol at Timmelsjoch Col. A number of places along the trail are so special that you’ll have the images etched into your memory for years to come.

Stage 6: Hochstubai Hut (elev. 3,174m) – Notch at Windachferner Glacier – Hildesheimer Hut (elev. 2,900m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 650/900 Meters | Hiking Time: 5,5 hours | Distance: 7 kilometers

From Hochstubai Hut, you will soon reach aptly named “Himmelsleiter” (literally, ‘stairway to heaven’), where you climb up a steep section with stone steps, ropes and your hands and knees. The trail then winds down to Seekarsee Lake before resuming another climb after having crossed marshy Warenkar Cirque. The route switchbacks up to a notch at Windachferner Glacier. Walk down to the glacier and follow the trail leading to Jochdohle Restaurant that is located at the heart of the ski resort. From Gaiskarferner Glacier, bear south-eastward and pass a rocky ridge on your way down to Hildesheimer Hut.

Stage 7: Hildesheimer Hut (elev. 2,900m) – Gamsplatzl (elev. 3,018m) – Siegerland Hut (elev. 2,710m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 350/550 meters , Hiking Time: 3.5 hours | Distance: 550 kilometers | Trail: Singletrack, Footpath

On this tour, you will revel in the majesty of lofty Zuckerhütl Peak. From Hildesheimer Hut, you will walk down across Windachtal Valley along Hutnzustieg access until you reach Gaiskarbach Creek. Cross the moraine of imposing Pfaffenferner Glacier and take the rock scramble up to Gamsplatzl. Leading through large erratic boulders, this section is assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables. As you climb up, breathtaking views open around you. Catch your breath and scan the horizon. How many of the summits can you identify? Prominent 3,507-meter Zuckerhütl Peak in the Stubai Alps and a seemingly infinite array of Ötztal Alps’ peaks spread out before you. From Gamsplatzl, it’s a steep descent to Triebenkarsee Lake that is nestled below the snout of Triebenkarlasferner Glacier. The final section is a gentle grade that takes eventually takes you to Siegerland Hut.

Stage 8: Siegerland Hut (elev. 2,710m) – Windachscharte Notch – Gasthaus Hochfirst Inn (elev. 1,860m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 262/1,112 meters, Hiking Time: 4 hours | Distance: 5 kilometers

Check out some local history on this trail that climbs atop 2,862-meter Windachscharte Notch. Smugglers once used this trail to transport goods across the ‘green border’ to Italy. Beyond the border, the trail descends to Timmelsalm, a romantic Alpine pasture hut. Slightly beneath the hut runs the popular Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road. It’s a short walk to Gasthof Hochfirst Inn that lies directly on this scenic drive linking Austria’s Tirol to Italy’s South Tyrol. History buffs can take the fork toward Schneeberghaus at Timmler Schwarzsee Lake to catch a glimpse of both the history of mining in South Tyrol and the dramatic landscape of the Ötztal Alps’ upper reaches.

Stage 9: Gasthaus Hochfirst Inn (elev. 1,860m) – Timmelsjoch Col – Brunnenkogelhaus Lodge (elev. 2,738m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,200/250 meters | Hiking Time: 5 hours | Distance: 9.5 kilometers

Starting from Gasthof Hochfirst Inn, walk up to the roadhouse atop Timmelsjoch Col. From there, the trail continues on a moderate grade past beautiful tarns and crosses the glacier scoured cirques of Wannenkar, Rötenkar and Wietenkar before resuming a rock scramble to Wannenkarsattel Saddle. Follow the ridge-top track as it leads atop Wilde Rötespitz, the highest point on this walk. From the top, watch a continuous reel of premiere showings starring glistening white Ötztal Wildspitze Peak and splendid Weißkugel Peak. If that's not enough to slack your jaw, lofty Zuckerhütl Peak hovering over the Stubai Alps will most certainly captivate you. The trail gently winds to Brunnenkogelhaus Lodge. To descend to Sölden, follow the path to Fiegl’s Hut in Windachtal Valley, which takes roughly two hours to complete. From the hut, catch a bus to Sölden. To get to the trailhead of the next stage, ride a bus from Sölden to Obergurgl.

 

ÖTZTAL TREK/ROUTE 3 (STAGES 10 – 12) – The Ötztal Loop
Obergurgl – Langtalereck Hut – Hochwildehaus Lodge – Ramolhaus Lodge – Martin-Busch-Hut – Similaun Hut

Route 3 along the Ötztal Trek explores the upper reaches of Inner Ötztal and has you wandering in stratosphere explorer Auguste Piccard’s and Oetzi, the Iceman’s famous footsteps. Intimate ice is what this route is all about: Enter rarefied air as you explore the world of glaciers high above Vent and view them close-up and personal. Moreover, the route works its way south, touching on the Italian border once again, this time via Niederjoch Col and Similaun Hut.

Stage 10: Obergurgl (elev. 1,900m) – Langtalereck Hut (elev. 2,430m) – Hochwildehaus Lodge (elev. 2,866m) – Ramolhaus Lodge (elev. 3,005m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,600/500 meters | Hiking Time: 7 hours | Distance: 16 kilometers

Trailhead of this awesome trek is the village center of Obergurgl. Keep walking into the valley until you get to David’s Hut. There, follow the Alpine Interpretive Trail across old growth stone pine forest. Passing Schönwies Hut and Langtalereck Hut, the trail runs into Langtal Valley and emerges on the lateral moraine of Gurgler Ferner Glacier with a last rise taking you to Hochwildehaus Lodge, which provides a perfect rest stop for hikers. Once replete and replenished, retrace your steps back towards Gurgler Ferner. The path drops down on the west edge of the glacier and markings show where you can cross it safely. Iron rungs help get you over rock slabs. Ramolhaus Lodge hangs tantalizing above you, but the steep climb is well worth the effort, both for the views and for the shelter’s atmosphere.

Stage 11: Ramolhaus Lodge (elev. 3,005m) – Ramoljoch Col (elev. 3,189m) – Martin-Busch-Hut (elev. 2,501m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 700/1,200 meters | Hiking Time: 6 hours | Distance: 11.5 kilometers

This stage travels from Ramoljoch Col into Niedertal Valley and across scree, boulders and ice to Ramolferner Glacier. The trail vigorously climbs atop Ramoljoch, where a fixed anchoring system of cables and iron rungs help get you over the initial rock step, slabs and scree. After Spiegelferner Glacier, follow the path down over scree and a short section of glacier onto the morainal heaps. Further below, the path splits and the one to Martin-Busch-Hut turns left towards Niedertal Valley. It’s a gradual ascent over wide open Alpine pastures where sheep can be viewed grazing. Eventually, you descend steeply to cross Diembach Creek. The path loses height rapidly and you approach Niedertalbach Creek. Cross it and follow the dirt road across Niedertal Valley that leads up to Martin-Busch-Hut.

Stage 12: Martin-Busch-Hut (elev. 2,501m) – Similaun Hut (elev. 3,017m)
Elevation Gain: 500 meters | Hiking Time: 2 hours | Distance: 4.5 kilometers

Oetzi, the Iceman will be your imaginary companion along this trek as you’ll cross the border into Italy’s South Tyrol once again. From Martin-Busch-Hut, the path runs parallel to Niederjochbach Creek and then rises onto the moraine above Niederjochferner Glacier. It levels out as it crosses the snow and you reach Similaun Hut, the old frontier post that is located at an elevation of 3,017 meters atop Niederjoch Col on the South Tyrolean side of the mountain. It is recommended that only experienced hikers comfortable on scramble routes attempt to summit the pinnacle of 3,599-meter Similaun Peak. Mastering the vertigo-inducing exposure and ice-strewn trail requires glacier travel skills and familiarity with ice axe and crampons.

 

ÖTZTAL TREK/ROUTE 4 (STAGES 13 – 17) – Wandering in Oetzi’s Footsteps
Similaun Hut – Hochjoch Hospice – Brandenburger Haus Lodge – Vernagt Hut – Breslauer Hut –Tiefenbach Restaurant – Rettenbachjoch Col – Braunschweiger Hut

Ötztal Trek’s Route 4 explores the upper reaches of the mighty glacier world that surrounds the resort of Vent. You will wander in the footsteps of Oetzi, the Iceman, here, too. Steep, rough, and technical, these routes require complete competence in glacier crossing skills and good experience and familiarity with ice axe, crampons, and climbing ropes.

Stage 13: Similaun Hut (elev. 3,017m) – Hauslabjoch Col (elev. 3,283m) – Hochjoch Hospice (elev. 2,412m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 450/1,050 meters | Hiking Time: 5 hours | Distance: 7.5 kilometers

Starting from Similaun Hut, the trail gains Tisenjoch Col, where the 5000-year-old mummy of Oetzi, the Iceman was found in 1991. The steep and rugged trail across a ridge is assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables. Having visited the site of Oetzi’s discovery, the trail gains 100 vertical meters on its way atop Hauslabjoch Col. Continue by crossing Hochjochferner Glacier and follow this route until it merges onto a footpath that winds down from Seilkogel Peak. This path drops into Rofental Valley where you cross Hochjochbach Creek and head on to the stream rushing down from Hintereisferner Glacier. A demanding final grunt of 100 vertical meters takes you up to Hochjoch Hospice.

Stage 14: Hochjoch Hospice (elev. 2,412m) – Brandenburger Haus Lodge (elev. 3,274m)
Elevation Gain: 850 meters | Hiking Time: 3.5 hours | Distance: 5.5 kilometers

At the end of this stage, you’ll be greeted by a mighty glacier castle: Brandenburger Haus was built on the end of a rock rib above Kesselwandferner Glacier, in the middle of a sea of snow and ice and at an elevation of 3,274 meters. Follow the path behind Hochjoch Hospice and climb a steep tussock slope first. Higher up, on a narrow path on a steep hillside, you climb above the spectacular icefall of Kesselwandferner Glacier. Once on the glacier, the route should be very straightforward and is marked with poles; roped glacier travel techniques are required. It takes roughly an hour to complete this tough section. The final push to the shelter is a rock scramble that is steep, rough, and a little bit tricky – but Brandenburger Haus Lodge—and the stunning views!—are definitely worth it. Once at the lodge, if the altitude has not taken too much out of you, scramble up onto 3,397-meter Dahmannspitze Spire. It’ll take some 30 minutes to nab its pinnacle—sure-footedness and a good head for heights are required.

Stage 15: Brandenburger Haus (elev. 3,274m) – Fluchtkogel Peak (elev. 3,497m) – Vernagt Hut (elev. 2,755m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 250/800 meters | Hiking Time: 4.5 hours | Distance: 5.5 kilometers

From Brandenburger Haus Lodge, the trail drops down roughly 50 meters and crosses a boulder field on its way to Kesselwandferner Glacier. Cross the glacier and continue north-eastward to gain Upper Guslarjoch Col. From the col, it’s a mere 150 vertical meters to reach the highlight of this walk in the true sense of the word: Culminating on a 3,497-meter peak named Fluchtkogel, the summit gives a panoramic payoff of jagged peaks and emerald ridges that will leave you momentarily paralyzed. Retrace your steps to Upper Guslarjoch Col from where the trail plunges to heavily-crevassed Guslarferner Glacier. Crossing it, crevasses pose a danger on the section leading to a knob, and it is strongly recommended to proceed with caution to protect yourself from such hazards. After that, the trail winds down to Vernagt Hut through lateral moraines.

Stage 16: Vernagt Hut (elev. 2,755m) – Breslauer Hut (elev. 2,844m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 300/250 meters | Hiking Time: 2 hours | Distance: 7 kilometers

This short stage presents relatively little in the way of technical challenges. Along the way, you'll be rewarded with views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers, such as mighty Großer Vernagtferner and Hochvernagt Spire. Starting from Vernagt Hut, the trail drops down into the valley of Vernagtbach Creek. The trail crosses the brook and begins a steady climb to Platteiberg. From there, the route skirts the slopes high above Rofental Valley and traverses the cirques of Platteikar and Mitterkar. Stop and rest at the latter and admire the views of sky-scraping Ötztal Wildspitze Peak. Soon you will reach Breslauer Hut that offers sweeping vistas of nearby glaciers and mountains, including Kreuzspitze Peak, Hochjochferner Glacier and Weißkugel Peak.

Stage 17: Breslauer Hut (elev. 2,844m) – Tiefenbach Restaurant (elev. 2,789m) – Rettenbachjoch Col (elev. 2,990m) – Braunschweiger Hut (elev. 2,758m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 650/750 meters | Hiking Time: 7.5 hours | Distance: 15 kilometers

From Breslauer Hut, walk past the foothills of Rofenkar Cirque on a trail that drops down to the new high trail that runs out above Venter Tal Valley. Follow this high trail until it merges onto the awesome, view-granting Panoramaweg Trail that links Vent with Tiefenbachferner Glacier. High above Venter Tal Valley, this scenic trail brings you to Tiefenbach Restaurant at Tiefenbach Glacier. After you’ve spent some time resting at this friendly on-mountain restaurant, climb the ski run to gain Seiter Jöchl Col. On the other side of the col, the trail drops down to Rettenbachferner Glacier. Crossing the glacier requires adequate equipment, skills, and abilities. From Rettenbachjoch Col, follow the trail signed for Braunschweiger Hut down.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE:
Ride a bus from Tiefenbach Restaurant to the base of Rettenbachferner Glacier and walk to the upper car park of the glacier road; this is the trailhead of the climb atop Pitztaler Jöchl Col (elev. 2,996 Meter). The final push to the summit crosses a glacial field where crampons might be useful. From the col, the trail drops down to Braunschweiger Hut. It takes roughly 1¾ hours to reach the hut from the base of Rettenbachferner Glacier. If the trail atop Pitztaler Jöchl Col is closed, gain Rettenbachjoch Col from the upper car park of the glacier road. The final push to the col is a non-technical and easy glacier crossing. It takes about 1¾ hours to reach the hut from the base.

 

ÖTZTAL TREK/ROUTE 5 (STAGES 18 – 20) – Via Geigenkamm Ridge – Mainz High Trail
Braunschweiger Hut – Mainz High Trail – Rüsselsheimer Hut – Luibisscharte Notch – Hauersee Hut – Felderjöchl Col – Frischmann Hut

Route 5 along Ötztal Trek offers exceptionally rewarding and demanding tours and gives access to very spectacular Alpine scenery. Hiking Mainzer Höhenweg (Mainz High Trail) requires sure-footedness along with basic technical climbing abilities and gear. The route follows Geigenkamm Ridge, rising between Pitztal and Ötztal Valleys, and is filled with delights and natural wonders along the way. It is here that one might begin counting mountain goats, ibexes and other high-country wildlife, if you are fortunate.

Stage 18: Braunschweiger Hut (elev. 2,758m) – Mainz High Trail – Rüsselsheimer Hut (elev. 2,328m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 800/1,200 meters | Hiking Time: 10 hours | Distance: 9 kilometers

Alpine, technical and downright demanding: Starting from Braunschweiger Hut and towered by Pitztaler Jöchl Col, the trail drops into Silbergrube from where it starts climbing to gain the first Three-Thousander on this peak bagging stage, 3,079-meter Wurmsitzkogel Peak. Next up are Grschrappkogel Peak (elev. 3,197m) and Wassertalkogel Peak (elev. 3,252m) with a bivouac, an emergency shelter that sleeps up to 12 people, nearby. From Wassertalkogel, the trail descends through glacial fields. Following some scrambling, the trail continues to Weißmaurachjoch Col and on to Weißmaurachkar Cirque. After spending ten hours in a day hiking, you will finally reach Rüsselsheimer Hut. And although it’s a little long and a little challenging getting to this friendly shelter, the rewards are many. Apart from the views, you could feast on their specialty, which is ibex goulash…

Stage 19: Rüsselsheimer Hut (elev. 2,328m) – Kapuzinerjöchl Col (elev. 2,710m) – Breitlehnjöchl Col (elev. 2,637m) – Sandjöchl Col (elev. 2,826m) – Luibisscharte Notch (elev. 2,914m)– Hauersee Hut (elev. 2,383m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,200/1,200 meters | Hiking Time: 7 hours | Distance: 10,5 kilometers

Aside from knocking the wind out of unconditioned hikers, this trail tackles a few cols and a tiny glacier on its way to Hauersee Hut. Starting from Rüsselsheimer Hut, the trail takes you to a wonderful vantage point named Gahwinden. From there, the trail descends through scree fields to Rötkarle Cirque and then ascends Kapuzinerjöchl Col. Beyond the col, the trail drops down through steep and rocky terrain (there are fixed cables to hold on to for safety) before resuming its climb towards Breitlehnjöchl and Sandjöchl cols. From now on, it’s a tough calling! From the fork, the trail switchbacks to Luibisscharte Notch like there’s no tomorrow. The final push to the notch is nearly vertical; a thigh burner going up and one that calls for extra caution descending on its other side. The scenery is heavenly, but with many vertical meters to climb and drop, there’s a little hell to pay on the way. Beyond the notch, the trail plunges to crevasse-free Hauerferner Glacier. The trail between the glacier and Hauersee Hut has been closed off due to a rockslide – having passed the glacier section, a bypass trail descends next to a rocky knoll. Hauersee Hut is a tiny self-catering, unmanned shelter that is open during peak season only.

Stage 20: Hauersee Hut (elev. 2,383m) – Felderjöchl Col (elev. 2,797m) – Frischmann Hut (elev. 2,192m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 600/800 meters | Hiking Time: 4 hours | Distance: 7.5 kilometers

This stage follows the spine of Middle Geigenkamm Ridge and will take you to three gorgeous backcountry lakes in unique settings. The first one is located right beside Hauersee Hut, after which it is named. From the hut, the trail descends to Unterer Spitzigsee Lake, from where it crosses Inner Innerbergtal Valley and traverses the slopes above glacier scoured Felderkar Cirque. A vigorous climb takes you up to Weißer See Lake and continuous straight forward through steep and rugged terrain to gain Felderjöchl Col. The rock scramble section is assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables. From the col, the trail drops steeply, then levels out, and continues across Fernerkar Cirque below Ploderferner Glacier. Under the reign of lofty Griesköpfe Peaks, the trail descends quickly and eventually passes gentle Alpine pasturelands on its way to Frischmann Hut.

 

ÖTZTAL TREK/ROUTE 6 (STAGES 21 – 22) – Via Geigenkamm Ridge – Forchheimer Weg Trail
Frischmann Hut – Fundusfeiler Peak – Erlanger Hut – Forchheimer Weg Trail – Maisalm – Ötztal-Bahnhof

Ötztal Trek’s Route 6 has two stages; the latter of which can be done as a long day hike, but is more easily enjoyed as a two day trek for it’s downhill all the way to your destination, dropping 2,350 meters. From Erlanger Hut, the route follows scenic Forchheimer Weg Trail. The combination of stunning scenery and lack of crowds is one of this trail’s most enticing aspects. And those stunning views!

Stage 21: Frischmann Hut (elev. 2,192m) – Fundusfeiler Peak (elev. 3,079m) – Erlanger Hut (elev. 2,541m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 1,250/900 meters | Hiking Time: 6 hours | Distance: 10 kilometers

Tucked in a high cirque surrounded by sky-piercing peaks, Wettersee Lake epitomizes rugged Alpine beauty. Reaching this aquatic gem still exacts a fair amount of sweat and grit: Starting from Frischmann Hut, walk into Funduskar Cirque and head on to Fundusfeilerrinne Gully. Gaining Feilerscharte Notch, a fixed anchoring system of cables helps get you over two rock precipices—the rewards here are not without effort. The actual summit is a 150-meter rock scramble to the top of 3,079-meter tall Fundusfeiler Peak, a wonderful lookout point—and there's plenty to look out at. Retrace your steps to the notch and cross scree and talus slopes on your way down to the so-called “Schwarzes Loch”, meaning ‘black hole’. From there, it’s a gentle stroll along beautiful Alpine pastures high above Leierstal Valley. On good tread, start switchbacking to a tiny saddle, where Wettersee Lake sits in a rugged bowl. It’s quite an impressive scene. Now sit your weary self down and savour the Alpine serenity. From the gorgeous lake, it’s a mere minutes’ walk to get to Erlanger Hut.

Stage 22: Erlanger Hut (elev. 2,541m) – Forchheimer Weg Trail – Maisalm Alpine Pasture Hut (elev. 1,631m) – Ötztal-Bahnhof (elev. 704m)
Elevation Gain/Elevation Loss: 500/2,350 meters | Hiking Time: 9 hours | Distance: 19 kilometers

What a workout! This stage is not for the weak of heart, nor the weak of knees. A steep incline awaits you here, dropping 2,359 meters to the destination of the Ötztal Trek, Ötztal-Bahnhof. Thus, it is more easily enjoyed as a two-day trek with an overnight at Maisalm Alpine Pasture Hut. Your knees will thank you when you’re doing that overnight. Start by following the trail from Erlanger Hut to Inner Tumpental Valley and gain Murmentenkarjoch Col. The descent on the other side brings you to the tiny Forchheim bivouac, an emergency shelter that accommodates up to four people. Continue descending along the ridge where Hahnenkamm Mountain is circumvented through a scree field to the east. Continue walking along Front Geigenkamm Ridge and summit the pinnacle of Mutkopf Peak. After enjoying the top, it is time to head down to Mut Hut from where a dirt road winds down to Maisalm Alpine Pasture Hut. The knee-jarring descent takes some six hours to complete. If you want to spend the night here, bookings are essential! On the next morning, continue descending to the valley. Having arrived at the village of Roppen it’s a gentle stroll to the trailhead and destination end of the Ötztal Trek, which is the village of Ötztal-Bahnhof.

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Your destination address: Ötztal Bahnhof, Haiming

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