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north ridge

north ridge

north ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: Tyrol / South Tyrol (Oetztal Alps), Austria/Italy, Europe

Lat/Lon: 46.79790°N / 10.72610°E

Object Title: north ridge

Route Type: Glacier climb

Time Required: One to two days

Difficulty: PD+

Route Quality: 
 - 7 Votes


Page By: Mathias Zehring

Created/Edited: Feb 5, 2002 / Jul 13, 2006

Object ID: 156178

Hits: 5756 

Page Score: 74.01%  - 4 Votes 

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Starting point is the small village Melag (1915 m) at the end of the road in the valley Langtauferer Tal. This valley is the first valley south of the Reschen-Pass, the frontier between Austria and Italy.

nice walk on marked mountain path, first in the valley, then on the left slope to the hut
Weisskugel Huette / Rifugio Pio XI (2542 m), 2 h, where you should stay the night.

Route Description

It is a pity that glaciers are melting as much. So you have to pass a sometimes muddy moraine section to the ice of the Langtauferer Ferner glacier.

There are at least two possible variations where to gain the height of the north ridge:

a) only upper snowy part of the ridge:

Follow the middle moraine on the ice till it ends. Follow the normal route, which leads to the Weißkugel-Joch, in a wide curve. After the section with crevasses but before the last ascent to the Weißkugeljoch you can cross the glacier to the west and climb a steep slope (about 40°) to reach the north ridge just behind the last rocky section.

b) more direct route on the ridge

Cross the glaicer as early as possible (some crevasses, nothing too spectacular) to reach the very beginning of the ridge. On the righthand side of the ridge there is a small icewall. Cross the bergschrund and climb this icewall (about 40 degrees) that leads up to the ridge somewhere behind the first big tower. Follow the easy ridge to the second tower which can be passed by on a broad ledge on the right. There you meet with possibility a).

final ridge

From there a steep and elegant snow/ice ridge leads to the minor summit, to the main summit it is less steep and less snow. (5 h)


If snow conditions are still good you can go down via the east flank directly to the Weißkugeljoch (3362 m). But there is a risk of avalanches and there is a Bergschrund.
Otherwise you have to cross the mountain over the rocky ridge to the south to the Hintereisjoch (3471 m) and walk back to the Weißkugeljoch. There you only have to go down to meet your ascent. Same way back to the hut and down to the valley.

Essential Gear

crampons, ice axe and rope definetely needed

Best time

Best time is in July because in August to many snow has already melted.

update: July 2006:
the report in german on www.basislager.ch indicates too high temperature, pure ice and risk of stonefall.
So this might develop into a ridge that is better to climb in spring.


Alpenvereinskarte (map of german alpine club) 1:25000 Nr. 30/2 Weisskugel, available at DAV life Alpin

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-3 of 3    
Remco WoutersenRoute Comment

Remco Woutersen

Hasn't voted

In 2001 we climbed the northridge, but used a different, more elegant (I think) approach. Instead of following te normal route around the curve in the glacier we crossed it earlier (some crevasses, nothing too spectacular) to reach the very beginning of the ridge. On the righthand side of the ridge we found a small icewall after crossing some icy rubble (a bergschrund?). Climbing the icewall (hard ice, about 40 degrees) led up to the ridge somewhat behind the first big tower. We followed the easy ridge to the tower which we passed by on a broad ledge on the right. There we found the normal route and could follow the rest of the ridge. Conditions were perfect, so it was quite easy; the Rother guide promises some IIIrd degree climbing, but none of the rock we passed demanded any real climbing. Maybe they mean the big tower we passed by?

I think the route we found is nicer than the normal route because it takes the ridge integral. However it is also more dangerous. The ice wall can be dangerous for falling rock and ice, especially if you go too far to the right. When we were there we were early in the morning after a cold clear night. Furthermore underneath the wall the ice was quite easy to cross in our case, but since it is ice this may vary from year to year. We could see from a short distance that is was feasible, so be your own judge and do not blindly follow my story.

Have fun, the higher part of the ridge is very beautiful.
Posted Nov 26, 2004 8:36 am
Mathias ZehringRoute Comment

Mathias Zehring

Hasn't voted

Thank you for this useful information! In fact the difficult rocks as described in the Rother guide was the reason for us to take that long approach. I always thought that I had not climbed the ridge in total...

I’ll insert your description into the text.

Do you know if/how conditions changed there in 2003?

Can you post pictures?

Why don’t you sign the summit log?

Posted Nov 26, 2004 1:01 pm
Remco WoutersenRoute Comment

Remco Woutersen

Hasn't voted

I have found some pictures which I will post on this page. It was a good thing to see them again, because it refreshed some of my memories.

Contrary to what I said before I do not think the icewall is much more dangerous on the right. I must have remembered this because the bergschrund does look a problem more to the right as you can see on the first picture. In fact I now believe while climbing the ice wall we traversed a bit to the right on the wall, although not very much.

As for the question on the post-2003 conditions you can look at my second picture and compare it to the more recent picture by Martin74 and the older picture by Icicle. You can see the icewall is in fact becoming rocky, even though there is still a direct line of ice left. I think the biggest problem compared to the conditions we found is finding a good place to cross the bergschrund. Looking at the picture by martin74 it might be necessary to begin further to the right than we did, which might be more difficult. It's hard to tell from a picture though, so I'd say just take a look for yourself.

Compared to both other pictures there is a more important difference by the way. In our case the ridge itself was quite snowy, while on the others it was rocky. This may be important for the danger of rockfall.
Posted Dec 3, 2004 2:32 pm

Viewing: 1-3 of 3    


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