First of all, the summit features splendid views of the surrounding Ötztal Alps, with impressive glaciers to the north and northwest, and the rough mountains of the Texel group to the south and the east. And, on a clear day, you can enjoy the distant views of the Dolomites as well as the Ortler and Bernina groups.
The border between Italy and Austria follows the ridge between both summits. The Hochwilde marks the place where the main ridge of the Ötztaler Alps sharply changes direction, with one branch extending to the west from the northern summit, towards Hintere Schwärze and Similaun, and the other to the north from the southern summit, towards Hinterer Seelenkogel.
J. Ganahl, with farmers and shepherds, from the Schnalstal valley for the military survey 1858.
First tourist: J.J. Weilemann 1862.
H. Lutze von Wurmb, P.P. Gstrein and R. Schreiber via the Gurgler Ferner, 1871.
Getting ThereThe nearest village is Pfelders / Plan (Italy) (1628m) to the east. About the same distance and elevation, but to the west, is the Vorderkaser parking lot (1673m). From either of these trailheads, the mountain can be climbed in a long day.
In addition to these two options, there are several alternatives if you have more than a day - and the area is well worth a longer visit.
Alternatively, to explore more of the Texel group, the village of Partschins / Parcines (Italy) (680m) to the south is conveniently located. Although very low, the Texelbahn cable car can quickly whisk you up to 1544m. From there you can hike to the Stettiner Hütte via the Johannisscharte in a day, or choose one of several routes to the Lodnerhütte (2262m), from where you can ascend the Hochwilde the next day.
From the northAbout 50km west of Innsbruck lies the small village of Ötz, the gateway to the Ötztal valley. Obergurgl lies at the end of the Gurgler valley, which in turn is at the southernmost end of the Ötztal valley. Just before Obergurgl, the main road turns sharply left and ascends over a series of turns to the Timmelsjoch, a high mountain pass to Italy. The nearest major city over the border in Italy is Meran / Merano.
From the southComing from Italy, go from over the Timmelsjoch and take a left to Obergurgl at the next junction, where the main road turns sharply to the right. When the pass is closed, the much longer alternative is to take the Brenner highway to Innsbruck, and come from the north.
Pfelders / Plan
From the southPfelders / Plan lies in the Pfelderer valley. This is a side valley of the larger Passeier valley. From Italy, head for the Timmelsjoch, which lies at the end of the Passeier valley, but before crossing the pass, go left to Pfelders / Plan in the village of Moos in Passeier.
From the northComing from the north, there are two options. Either enter Italy on the Brenner highway and then at Sterzing, just over the border, go west to the Timmelsjoch. Alternatively, take the scenic route down the Ötztal and over the Timmelsjoch and, after crossing the pass, go right to Pfelders / Plan in the village of Moos in Passeier.
Partschins / ParcinesPartschins / Parcines is a small village in the Vinschgau valley, a few kilometers west of the pleasant town of Meran / Merano, which can be reached by train from all directions. There is a bus stop at the Texelbahn valley station, or you can take a local train to Rabland / Rablá, right next to Partschins and walk to the Texelbahn in half an hour.
Pfossental / Val di FossiThe Pfossental is a side valley of the Schnalstal / Val Senales. The entrance is close to the pretty small village of Karthaus.
Just like the Pfossental, the Schnalstal is a dead end too: the only way in is from the Vinschgau valley, at Kompatsch / Compaccio.
When To ClimbSummer and early fall are the season for hiking up to the south summit from Italy, or traversing the grade II ridge. The best period is from June to September, as long as there isn't too much snow. In 2007 for example, a big cold front resulted in a lot of fresh snow in the Alps early September, creating serious avalanche risk and making the southern route too dangerous.
In late winter and in spring it is possible to ski down the mountain to Obergurgl, but not quite from the summit.
Hochwildehaus , 2883m, DAV Karlsruhe
Langtalereckhütte, 2480m, DAV Karlsruhe
Stettiner Hütte / Rifugio Petrarca all'Altissima, 2875m CAI
Lodnerhütte / Rifugio Cima Fiammante, 2259m, CAI
Maps and books
MapsAlpenvereinskarte Ötztaler Alpen 30/1 Gurgl, scale 1:25 000 is indispensable when coming from the north.
There are quite a few suitable maps covering the Texel Group to the south. A very good free one, scale 1:50 000, is available at the Texelbahn cable car station.
GuidebookAlpenvereinsführer Ötztaler Alpen, Walter Klier, 2006. ISBN 3-7633-1123-8.
Normal route from the southFrom the Stettiner Hütte, a marked hiking trail leads all the way to the south summit. In some places it is very exposed, and unless you are very secure in difficult terrain, a rope is not a bad idea.
After a rockfall incident in 2008 high on the route and the ensuing investigation, it was decided the old route was too dangerous. A new route has been constructed recently, avoiding the dangerous area, and is open for business now. The new route still has the same name as the old one: "Grützmacher-Steig".
Normal route from the northNormally starting at the Hochwildehaus, the route from the north leads over the Gurgler glacier to the northern base of the rocky ridge. From there it's just a short climb to the northern summit, followed by almost 400m along the ridge to the south summit (UIAA grade II), secured by cables. This route is frequently combined with the traverse of Annakogel and is called the "Gustav-Becker-Weg".
Ski descentsIn winter and early spring it is possible to ski down all the way to Obergurgl by a couple of different, very long routes. One route follows the Langtalereck Ferner, starting well below the south summit, and also a bit north to northeast, another follows the Gurgler Ferner from just below the north summit.
Tour description with pictures (in German)
- The excellent Passeiertal site (in German and Italian) provides a lot of information about the area in general, as well as many details about the recent changes to the normal route from the south.
- In winter Obergurgl is a ski resort, so, not surprisingly, winter activities dominate the site.