Hochgall / Collalto is the main mountain of the Rieserferner group which is the south western part of the Hohe Tauern range. It is not only by far the highest mountain of the group but also the most elegant one – with ridges of rocks and snow and a famous icy north face.
The mountain is on the border of Austria and Italy, so it has names in two languages. There are normal routes from both countries with using of the Hochgall hut / Rifugio Roma on Italian and the Barmer hut on the Austrian side as basis. Both routes are not simple and require rock climbing up to UIAA III and (on the austrian side) steep snow with 42° steepness. A combination of these routes would be a perfect traverse, for the way back the traverse of Lenkstein / Sasso Lungo is a recommendation for the following day.
The difficulties of the normal routes are similar to the ones at Grossglockner
North face (more exactly: north west face) is a classic ice climb. Because of global warming and melting ice this is mainly done today in spring – May and June. It is also an extreme ski descent.
Please look at the execellent page about Rieserferner group or for broader orientation about Hohe Tauern. The villages to start the climb are
• Rain in Taufers / Riva di Tures (1596 m) on Italian side, to be reached via Bruneck / Brunico
• Erlsbach (1555 m) above St. Jakob in Defereggen (1389 m) on the Austrian side, to be reached via either Matrei i.O. or Lienz, or from Italy via the Staller Sattel pass road
• normal route on italian side, via Graues Noeckl and north west ridge:
UIAA II (constantly), 1160 m ascent, 4 h from Hochgall hut
Hofmann, Kaltdorff, Weiß, Oberarzbacher, August 3rd 1868
• normal route on austrian side: east flank and north east ridge:
snow/ice 42°, UIAA III- and II, 830 m ascent, 4 h from Neue Barmer hut
von Boehm, von Schneider-Ernstheim, J.+B. Außerhofer, August 8th 1876
Nowerdays this route can only be recommended as long as there is enough snow in the big couloir.
• South west ridge
UIAA III+, 450 m height from Schwarze Scharte (2981 m) between Hochgall and Wildgall
Fruehstorfer, Willeit, September 1st 1903
• North face
55° steepness, classical ice climb, 300 m ascent
Schwarzgruber, Sild, July 19th 1934 (lower part already by Berger, Hechenblaikner, 1903)
Link: description in german on www.bergsteigen.at
Beacuse of lack of ice the route can only be done in spring. Experts carry ski for descent. First ski descent done by Heini Holzer in 1972
• Ice cap of the minor summit P. 3354 m (very left on the signature photo)
most extreme route, ice up to 90 degrees for 80 m
K.+S. Renzler, Drescher, Beikircher 1975
There are some more routes but they are mostly not common and only of some historical interest.
Climbing isn’t restricted although the mountain lies in
• the National Park Hohe Tauern on Austrian side
• the Natural Park Rieserferner-Ahrn on Italian side
the approach on austrian side is a pay road from Erlsbach to Patscher Alm (4 km) which costs 4 EUR.
When To Climb
Mid July to September is the summer season.
If you intend to climb the Austrian route this is recommendable only as long as there is enough snow in the big couloir. Mid of August may be too late in some years.
On the Italian side the difficulties concentrate on rock climbing. Here condition might be better in later summer
Climbing Hochgall with ski is an almost extreme trip and only possible on the Austrian side in spring
Campingclimbers normally use one of the huts.
I'll look for campgrounds in the valleys.
webcam view of the Italian side from Rain/Riva to Hochgall/Coll Alto
map / bookBest map is Tabacco 1:25000 Nr. 35 "Valle Aurina / Ahrntal – Vedretta di Ries / Rieserferner Gruppe,
guidebook in german:
Rieserfernergruppe by Werner Beikircher, 1st edition 1983, ISBN 3-7633 1227 7, unfortunately out of print