On the north ridge towards Großer Spießnagel
, some isolated “bumps” at the end of the long north / northeast ridge of Großer Rettenstein
with a very low prominence is for sure among the many particular denominations of summits in the Alps. The name means something like “piercing nails” and you might be misled to imagine some nearly unclimbable pinnacles and rock spires but wrong: Spießnägel are hiking summits (in fact there are three more pronounced rock outcrops) and I find the traverse of these piercing nails from north to south together with a climb of Großer Rettenstein one of the best outings, Kitzbüheler Alpen can offer.
One of these three bumps / outcrops carries a summit cross: this is Großer Spießnagel. Funnily enough it is the lowest of the three outcrops ..... but it has besides the summit cross two benches with great views into Kitzbüheler mountains.
Sitting at the end of the Großer Rettenstein north / northeast ridge, Spießnägel divide Spertental with its main village Aschau in two south – north running valleys: Oberer Grund
to the east and Unterer Grund
with its hanging side valley Schöntal to the west.
The dividing ridge is a real delightful hike; going north to south you first go up to Hirzeckalm
, one of the old wooden and withered Kitzbüheler mountain pasture shacks offering food, drinks and a perfect view to Kaisergebirge. Then you traverse Spießnägel: some ups and downs and a short rock scramble let you down to a beautiful small lake, the Hirzecklacke
. From there you stroll along the broad ridge to the south, ascending and descending a bit, passing by more small lakes, with great views to Großer Rettenstein, until you end at Schöntaljoch.
Spießnägel are also of geological interest as there are some very rare limestones of Silurian age
disclosed in the summit zone.
Spießnägel and Schöntal valley as seen from the traverse to Großer Rettenstein
Trailhead for Spießnägel are the parking areas of Aschau im Spertental
You reach Aschau via road number L 203
from Kirchberg / Tirol
Kirchberg is located near Kitzbühel.
Leave the highway A 12
München – Kuftsein – Innsbruck – Landeck at exit Wörgl
, follow road number 178
shortly and go on road number 170
to reach Kirchberg from western directions
From eastern directions
follow road number 168
to Saalfelden, Fieberbrunn and Sankt Johann, turn on road number 161
to Kitzbühel and on road number 170
The parking areas are located at the beginning of the two valleys Unterer Grund
and Oberer Grund
which split up at Aschau at the end of Spertental.
Go on L 203
until you pass by Oberlandhütte
(alpine club hut) and follow the road to a road junction:
There are two main routes which can be combined to a nice traverse. If you like a longer outing you can include Großer Rettenstein summit
Unterer Grund route:
Follow the toll road into Unterer Grund until a trail branches off to your left (signposts, about 900 m from the parking area). Ascend the trail to Sonnwendalm
where you meet a forest road. Follow that forest road up to Schöntalalm
and further on into Schöntal. You the will reach Schöntal Scherm
at a height of about 1660 m, an old and abandoned Alm hut, where the forest road ends.
Spießnägel as seen from Schöntal Spießnägel as seen from Großer Rettenstein with Unterer Grund and Schöntal Schöntal and ridge from Rettenstein to Spießnägel
Follow the trail starting at Schöntal Scherm shortly up to a trail junction. Take the left hand trail wich brings you up to Rettenstein col (1980 m). Turn left and follow the long ridge between Großer Rettenstein und Spießnägel in northern direction, first decending into Hirzegg col with a homonymous small lovely lake. Ascend then to the Spießnägel summits; the last one is the summit cross summit.
Oberer Grund route:
Follow first the forest road into Oberer Grund, starting from the parking area. After about 1 km you reach a road junction with signposts: take the right hand road which zigzags up the lower east slope of Spießnägel. The road ends at a height between 1300 m and 1400 m and a trail continues zigzagging up the wooden slopes. It ends at another forest road at about 1500 m; turn right on that road and follow it until you reach the Hirzegg Alm
, one of the real old Alm huts of Kitzbüheler Alpen, where you get food and drinks.
Hirzegg Alm Großer Spießnagel as seen from Hirzegg Alm Upper Oberer Grund route to Großer Spießnagel
The route follows now the forest road going south from the Hirzegg Alm until it ends at a hunters cabin
. Before you hit that cabin turn right onto a smaller and old Alm road and follow it until it ends and a trail starts to ascend steeply the meadows of the upper slopes of Spießnägel. This trail goes up to the north ridge of Spießnägel; turn left on the ridge and follow the trail up to the summit cross.
If you follow the Spießnägel ridge, first in some ups and downs, then descending shortly into Hirzegg col
with the homonymous lake you can turn there left on a trail which leads back down to the hunters cabin and the Hirzegg Alm
thus allowing a short summit loop.
View to the north - near Großer Spießnagel Spießnägel traverse with Wilder Kaiser range Hirzegg col signposts
Oberer Grund route is a ski route, too. The upper part of the route above Hirzegg Alm is more direct than in summer, using the east slopes of the Spießnägel north ridge for ascent and descent.
From Unterer Grund go up to Sonnwendam and follow the forest road directly up to Hirzegg Alm. Use the Oberer grund ski route from there on.
Red Tape & Accommodation
In summer there are no restrictions as far as I know.
Respect the rough beauty of the landscape of Spießnägel / Rettenstein area; there are many rare wildflowers and plants on the meadows and many amphibians dwelling in the small lakes and ponds and swamps of the area.
In winter there are restrictions for ski touring
as the wildlife needs large resting zones in the woods. Ski routes
for ascend AND downhill are marked
and you should follow these marks to avoid disturbance for the wildlife.
Aschau im Spertental and Kirchberg
have many facilities for accommodation.
is a alpine club hut and offers meals also for those who will not stay overnight.
Hirzegg Alm offers food and drinks.
Gear & Mountain Condition
Spießnägel are a year round summit
In late spring, summer and autumn it is an easy hike
which requires normal hiking gear, good shoes and, if you like, hiking poles.
The routes are never difficult; the trails are in some parts narrow and cut in steep slopes (e.g. the east slopes of Spießnägel). The traverse of the Spießnägel requires some short easy rock scrambling.
In winter and spring Spießnägel are one of the many and wellknown ski touring routes around Oberlandhütte. I don´t know if it is done frequently but in my opinion Spießnägel are the less attractive tour in winter around Oberlandhütte as there are long parts on forest roads through dense woods.
You need full ski touring gear and your avalanche gear for Spießnägel in winter.
Check the Tirol avalanche bulletin here
Maps & Guide Books
Austrian Topo Maps:
Österreichische Karte 1 : 50.000 - UTM (ÖK50):
Other Topo Maps:
Available only antiquarian but an indispensable mountain guide book: