Griften or Zupalkogel is located at the eastern part of Lasörling Group
, south of the village of Virgen. It is one of the house-summits of Zupalseehütte. The peak is at a junction of the main ridge of the group where a longer side-ridge branches to the north.
The slopes of the mountain are smooth, but there is a slight difference between the landscape of the two sides. The southern side is grassy, while the northern slopes are rocky as they get much less sunshine. Due to the same reason there is usually a narrow ledge of snow on the northern side of the ridge even in July.
Although the peak itself also deserves a visit, the best option to make a ridge-tour in the area.
The mountain can be reached either from the Defereggen valley (from Görtschach) on the south or from the Virgen valley on the north. For further information about getting to the valleys see the Lasörling Group
As the only hütte near the summit is on the northern side, it is the common way of approach.
If you are coming by car, turn left in Virgen near the shop called „Adeg” (I hope it hadn’t changed its name:) and try to find the small asphalted road leading towards the Isel river. Cross the river, and leave the car there.
The only hut close to the peak is Zupalseehütte.
If you approach from the south, another option can be Speikbodenhütte.
Camping is not allowed in the higher regions (National Park).
Eight or ten years ago it was possible to pitch up a tent on the southern bank of Isel river, near the mouth of Steinkaasbach. I don't know if it was legal, but we were seen there several times by locals (they used that place for picnic) and they never disturbed us. But it was long ago.
The only route from the south begins next to the houses of Mellitz and reaches the ridge at the peak of Donnerstein, approximately 1500 meters west of Griften. The time required for an ascent is about 5 hours.
There are several options for ascent and descent from the north. Probably the most common is to reach the Zupalseehütte at 2346 m through the valley of Steinkaasbach. There is two alternatives for the lower part: one can go either on the western or the eastern side of the valley. I prefer the western side as it touches Thunalm, a nice cottage and a meadow with wonderful view of Virgental and the surrounding mountains. Count 3-4 hours till the hütte.
From Zupalseehütte there is a direct path southwarts to the ridge near the summit. It is about one hour more. Another path goes eastwards and reaches the northern ridge of Griften.
If you like to walk on ridges, ascent do Wetterkreuzhütte (2106 m), and walk along the long northern ridge over Legerle. Sometimes it is worth to look around as Grossglockenr, the highest peak of Austria is visible in northwestern direction.
Probably the most beautiful but the longest one-day walk is to ascend to Thunalm, and later to Melhamalm. The signs end there, but there is an unmarked path on the ridge for a while, and the terrain is easily passable later. You will reach Lunebischhöhe, and later Merschenhöhe, have a big time, and probably see noone else there. In the pass after Merschenhöhe turn towards east (here again on marked path), and walk until the path no. 316. It leads you to the main ridge, and over Speikboden and Donnerstein you can reach Griften. From there descend on the northern ridge. This tour needs at least 12 hours, and a very good condition.
is a good web-map for planning. The map below is also taken from there.
Other maps of the area:
- Kompass 46 - Matrei in Osttirol - Kals am Großglockner - 1 : 50 000
- freytag&berndt WK 123 - Matrei - Defereggen - Virgental - 1 : 50 000
Usually they are available at local shops.
The higher regions of the mountain are within the boundaries of Hohe Tauern National Park
The home page of Zupalseehütte
A tour description at hinterbichl.at