Großer and Kleiner Solstein (2491 m and 2633 m) are two prominent summits in the southernmost range of the Karwendel, high above the town of Innsbruck.
They can be climbed within a strenuous days hike. Nevertheless it might be more fun to spend a night at the mountain huts on their southern and western slopes - Neue Magdeburger Hütte and Solsteinhaus - before or after having climbed one or both of the twin summits.
There are three possibilities to climb Großer Solstein:
1. via Solsteinhaus and west slope
2. via Neue Magdeburger Hütte and Höttinger Schützensteig
3. via Neue Magdeburger Hütte and Wörgltal
Neue Magdeburger Hütte
The best trailhead for this routes is at Hochzirl, a little village above the Inn valley. You may start directly from Inn valley but doing so you have to add some more 350 m altitude difference.
By car, use the Inn valley highway from the east (Rosenheim - Kuftein - Innsbruck) or the west (Arlberg - Imst), exit Zirl. The easiest way from Munich is the highway to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the B 2 to Mittenwald, Scharnitz, Seefeld and Zirl.
In the little town of Zirl follow the signs to Hochzirl, there is a small and steep road leading up to the train station of Zirl (first possibility to park the car). The road leads on to a hospital (Landeskrankenhaus Hochzirl); at the end of the paved road in front of the entrance to the hospital grounds there is a another parking lot which can be used for day and overnight hiking.
Don´t park your car within the grounds of the hospital - you may be fined!!
Another possibility is to use the train from Innsbruck or from Munich - Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Mittenwald and Seefeld. Some trains stop at the Zirl / Hochzirl station, mentioned above.
check schedule here
From train station or hospital follow the sign for "Solsteinhaus", it is the trail number 213. The trail, mostly a steep forest road, ascents the southeastern slopes of the Brunstkopf and Garberskopf. The road ends at the valley station of the cableway supplying the Solsteinhaus.
You cross a river (Oberbach) and a fresh debris flow up to a spring which provides fresh and good water. The trail zigzags up through the woods to a hunting hut and to the Solen Alm (1643 m); a private Alm hut with another spring with good water.
At Solen Alm there is a trail junction: to the left you can climb Kuhlochspitze; for Solsteine choose the right trail which enters nearly level Erlbach valley with its impressing scree fields and debris flows.
At the end of Erlbach valley the trail turns round and climbes up to Erlsattel, Erlalm and Solsteinhaus.
For Neue Magdeburger Hütte you start best at the train station of Hochzirl. Follow a trail parallel to the railway which enters the Erlbach valley east of the station. After crossing Erlbach the trail ascents to a forest road, leading to Wirtshaus Brunntal and Neue Magdeburger Hütte. If you don´t want to follow the forest road, leave it about 500 m before reaching Wirtshaus Brunntal to your right. A steep trail is heading up Zirler Mähder to Kirchberger Alm and to Neue Magdeburger Hütte.
Both Solsteinhaus and Neue Magdeburger Hütte can be highly recommended for a stop or an overnight stay !
The west slope trail from Solsteinhaus to Großer Solstein starts at Erlsattel. Leave trail number 213 at Solsteinhaus, turn right and descent some meters to Erlsattel. There is a sign at a trail junction; the left trail leads to Großer Solstein.
The trail climbs the western slope through dense Latschen. Above those at about 2140 m there is another trail junction with signs. The right trail leads to the Wörgltal ascent of Großer Solstein and to Neue Magdeburger Hütte. The west slope trail zigzags up and reaches the southwest slope of Großer Solstein at about 2400 m. It follows the southwest slope until it reaches the spacious summit plateau with the summit cross and marvellous views (if you are lucky with the weather....).
To go on to Kleiner Solstein, which stands out in the east you have to follow the trail to the easy east ridge of Großer Solstein. The ridge descends some 100 m to Waidböden, a large and spacious col between the two summits. At Waidböden there are two trail junctions:
- first with the Wörgltal ascent from Neue Magdeburger Hütte. This steep ascent starts directly at the hut and climbs steadily at the eastside of Wörgltal up to Waidböden. I recommend it as a quick descent to Neue Magdeburger Hütte rather than an ascent.
- second with the Höttinger Schützensteig, which starts some 300 m east of Neue Magdeburger Hütte and leads northeast through steep rockfaces, climbs up the south slopes of Solsteine and reaches Waidböden a little east of Wörgltal trail. If climbing the Solsteine from Neue Magdeburger Hütte, I highly recommend the loop Höttinger Schützensteig (up to the summits)and Wörgltal trail (downhill).
The views from Großer Solstein are marvellous but those from Kleiner Solstein are even better. So if you are not too tired, follow some feeble red dot marks from the Solstein col to the east. The marked track descends some more meters to a rockface and a ledge traversing through it. Follow the ledge - there is a rope too for some extra security - which leads you to the south slope of Kleiner Solstein. The trail zigzags up the rocky slope, some easy rock scramble is required to reach finally the west peak of the high and exposed summit ridge. The summit cross stands out on the east end of the ridge. But not to worry, the traverse is astonishingly easy made on the south side some steps under the ridge to the huge summit cross.
There is an overwhelming view all over the Karwendel ranges, to the Hohe Tauern from Großglockner to Großvenediger, to Zillertal, Stubai and Ötztal mountains and to Lechtal ranges, Wetterstein and Mieming ranges to the far and near west. And not to forget: the deep view of the town of Innsbruck, 2100 m below is just outstanding.
Full hiking gear and - maybe - some overnight stuff which can be left in the choosen mountain hut while climbing the summits.
Some folks do overnight camping on the spacious summit plateau of Großer Solstein. As the Solstein summits are part of the southern limitation of Karwendel National Park I´m not quite sure if this is within the National Park reglementations.
What Else To Do ?
If you choose Solsteinhaus for an overnight stay, you can tackle Erlspitze (2404 m), which stands out north of Solsteinhaus. If you are experienced, there is a nice loop: ascent via Eppzirler Scharte - trail number 212 - and the west ridge, a marked and in some places roped rock route (UIAA I - II, Class 2 to 4), descent via south slope (easy walk).
Another exciting possibility is Freyungen Höhenweg (trail number 211) to Nördlinger Hütte with the chance to climb Kuhlochspitze (2293 m) and Mittlerer and Westlicher Freyungenturm (2300m, 2325 m). Freyungen Höhenweg needs some easy rock climbing too (UIAA I) and is roped in some parts. Peak hoppers will collect Reither Spitze (2373 m) too, an easy walk from Nördlinger Hütte, before descending to Seefeld or Reith an take the train back to wherever you have to.