Ötztal Loop Tour

Getting Here

  • By train to Ötztal-Bahnhof - bus connection to Obergurgl or Vent.
  • By car along Inntal valley - autobahn exit: Ötztal/Haiming - through the Ötztal to Obergurgl - parking area at the base station of Festkogl mountain gondola.

Best Season

Mid-March to early May

Ability Level

Demanding ski mountaineering loop tour across huge glacier fields and partly exposed areas, for example challenging peak ascents to Schalfkogel and Mitterkarjoch. Recommended only in good stable weather and safe avalanche conditions.

Mountain Huts

  • Langtalereckhütte (2436 m, Sektion Karlsruhe/DAV), serviced in winter from mid-February through mid-May
  • Martin-Busch-Hütte (2501 m, Sektion Berlin/DAV), serviced in winter from mid-March through mid-May
  • Hochjoch-Hospiz (2412 m, Sektion Berlin/DAV), serviced in winter from mid-March through mid- May
  • Vernagthütte (2755 m, Sektion Würzburg/DAV), serviced in winter from early March through mid-May

Ötztal Loop Tour


Stage 1:
Obergurgl (1910 m) – ascent along the ski run, past the top station of Steinmannbahn towards Rotmoostal valley and Schönwieshütte – on a groomed, descending trail (Important: do NOT follow the summer trail as it is an extremely avalanche-prone route!) to Langtalereckhütte (2436 m)

Ascent 650 altitude meters / 2.5 hours




Stage 2:
Ski down to the valley bottom of Gurgler Ache brook, through the ravine towards Gurgler Ferner glacier – uphill on the gentle glacier slopes, conquering also a kind of steep ramp leading up to Kleinleitenferner glacier – crossing the glacier fields, you reach the area below Schalfkogeljoch - keep to the right in direction Schalfkogel (3540 m) - first on skis, the last meters on foot. Ski downhill into Schalfkogeljoch – steep but very short descent (on foot) into northern Schalfferner glacier – ski down across the glacier field, keep to the left at its end, heading towards the southern slopes of Schalfferner glacier – beautiful slopes await you here, leading down to the almost level valley bottom along Niedertaler Ache mountain brook – ascent on the opposite side to Martin-Busch-Hütte (2501 m).

Ascent 1500 altitude meters / Descent 1300 altitude meters / 7–8 hours



Stage 3:
First you head in the direction of Similaunhütte, then you keep to the right and climb the slopes to the basin located below Saykogel – along the southern ridge to the ski storage area - on foot to the peak of Saykogel (3360 m) – ski down on gentle glacier slopes in north-western direction, into the wide open terrain down to the valley bottom – an almost level section takes you to 2470 meters altitude, keep to the left and continue to the valley of Hintereisferner glacier – across a bridge to the opposite ascent towards Hochjoch-Hospiz (2412 m).

Ascent 1000 altitude meters / Descent 1070 altitude meters / 4.5–5 hours



Stage 4:
Uphill on quite frozen slopes (especially in the morning), take ski crampons with you - in north-western direction to a rain gauge - descending trail across the former side moraine of Kesselwandferner glacier until you reach a small basin below a shelf of rock – continue north-eastwards across lovely slopes towards the almost level Kesselwandferner glacier - then you head northwards into Oberes Guslarjoch – a short steep section takes you up to Fluchtkogel (3500 m) – ski down into Oberes Guslarjoch and further on to Guslarferner glacier until you get to Vernagthütte (2755 m).

Ascent 1130 altitude meters / Descent 780 altitude meters / 4.5–5 hours



Stage 5:
Ascent on the eye-catching side moraine, cross the first small glacier field (slightly descending) of Vernagtferner glacier – across the glacier and further on to Kleiner Vernagtferner glacier in direction Brochkogeljoch (very steep on the last meters - continue on foot) – once arrived at Taschachferner glacier you circle Hinterer Brochkogel northwards (quite level) - short climb to the basin below Wildspitze, proceed to the foothills of Wildspitze's south-western ridge – cross the ridge on foot (short climbing section at the end) and climb the peak of Wildspitze (3768 m) – follow the ridge to its northern summit – steep downhill stage along the north-western ridge until you reach a small terrace (alternatively you descend on foot or you take the ascend through the glacier basin below Wildspitze) – ski down northwards, cross (crevasses on both sides!) Wildspitze below its northern wall – short ascent on the opposite side - turn into Rofenkarferner glacier south of a small rock bump - splendid downhill skiing towards the south-eastern edge of the glacier – past the glacier snout, from the eastern side moraine down to Rofenkar cirque – cross the slopes of the Stablein ski area/ Vent at 2600 meters altitude, keep to the left - ski down to Vent on the ski trail (1896 m).

Ascent 1175 altitude meters / Descent 2025 altitude meters / 7-8 hours

© Stefan Herbke