Geographical Classification : Eastern Alps > Carnic Alps > Carnic Alps Main Ridge (West) > Pfannspitze / Cima Vanscuro
Pfannspitze / Cima Vanscuro is the first of the main summits of the Carnic Alps Main Ridge as you come from the western starting point of the ridge. It also is the last of the black summits, consisting of volcanic rock. As you head out towards the east from Pfannspitze you will encounter the limestone cliffs of Grosse Kinigat, Kleine Kinigat and Porze. Moreover, to the north you find Rosskofel, another Limestone mountain and it is the contrast between Pfannspitze and Rosskofel, black volcanic and white limestone rock which defines the whole area. Just see the picture above to see what I mean.
Pfannspitze is a very popular destination, especially when hiked to from the northern (Austrian) side. There is a refuge at the base of the summit block, Obstanser See Hütte, which also is the westernmost relay point in the Karnischer Höhenweg Trekking Trail, which follows the complete Carnic Alps Main Ridge for about 140km. The round trip from Kartitsch in the Tyrol Gailtal Valley, which heads out Winkler Tal Valley to Pfannspitze, follows the main ridge towards Kleine and Grosse Kinigat and heads back again to Kartitsch through Erschbaumer Tal Valley is one of the most popular, but also most strenuous round trips in the region. If you climb one of the two Kinigats together with Pfannspitze the round trip amounts to 1600m of elevation gain and 23km length. A long day....
The ascent to Pfannspitze is a rather easy one. There are two normal routes, one heading from Obstanser See in the north towards the summit, the other along the ridge coming from the Kinigats. A more adventurous tour heads for the saddle between Pfannspitze and Rosskopf (called Rosskopftörl, 2493) from where you take the Pfannspitze northern ridge/flank/slope to the summit.
Like all the summits of the western part of the Carnic Alps Main Ridge Pfannspitze is a very popular ski tour destination in winter. Many people take one of the lifts from Sexten / Sesto to Helm (the westernmost summit) and follow the ridge for several km. From Pfannspitze you can head down to Kreuzbergpass / Passo S. Croce from where several broad trails return to Sexten again.
And the main reason for visiting Pfannspitze? The views, of course! Besides the obvious backside view towards Kline and Grosse Kinigat along the Carnic Alps Main Ridge you can enjoy the view of the long eastern chain of the Sexten Dolomites. The pictures certainly don't tell you that this is almost a 180° view in which you can see all the towers, spires and summits of the range. To the north you can see towards Hohe Tauern with the Rieserferner Group in the north-west and Grossglockner directly to the north. And north-eastwards there is the complex group of the Lienz Dolomites....
Sexten Dolomites panorama taken from the summit of Pfannspitze. Both pictures combine into a 180°view
As said above, the main attraction about Pfannspitze are the views. It is hard to tell which direction is the best. I decided on the Sexten Dolomites here. Still we had far from perfect weather so that the pictures are a little hazy :-(
Pfannspitze seen from other mountains
The combination of the Königswand, Grosse Kinigat, Kleine Kinigat Trinity together with Pfannspitze makes for a pitturesque and easily recognizable view from other summits. Here's a selection.