is backyard summit of Innsbruck,
the biggest city and the capital of the Austrian federal state of Tyrol.
is centrally located on the southernmost chain of the Karwendel. Karwendel
is the largest range in the Northern Limestone Alps.
to commanding views in (almost) all directions, about
60km both due north and due south, ranging from the
Wettersteinwand on the N to the Zillertal Alps ridge on the S. Hafelekarspitze
is considered one of three major panorama points above the Inn valley, Patscherkofel
(2246m) and Serles
(2403m) in the south being the other two.
nearby Hafelekar gap is starting point for two popular trails on the
Southern Inntal ridge of Karwendel: the Goetheweg
hiking trail due east, and the Innsbrucker
klettersteig, traverse leading due west
from the Hafelekar to Frau Hitt saddle
along the ridge of the Inntal chain over 7 peaks during 4 hours and
involving class 3-5 climbing, technical parts of the
trail protected by fixed steel cables and iron posts on vertical walls.
of both paths usually either bypass or skip the Hafelekarspitze
alltogether for the simple reason; a cable car connects the
Hafelekar gap with the town of Innsbruck, making the Hafelekarspitze
mere 15 minutes stroll from the upper station. In
winter, most of the visitors are skiers - use of cable car is free of
charge for everyone with ski or snowboard gear. The piste is
layed down the Hafelekarspitze north flank, again no summiting
The only permanent and devoted visitors of
the Hafelekarspitze thus remain the Alpine jackdaws, often
seen in large numbers as well.
trailhead is Hungerburg ((868m), the outlying villa suburb of
Innsbruck, and home to the highest ZOO in Europe. It
is also the first stop of the cable car leading to Hafelekar. One
may get there wit the Hungerburgbahn from the Innsbruck
Convention Center (Congress Innsbruck), by car (large parking
lot next to the cable car station) or by local postbus.
Routes: Direct: From
Hungenburg, follow the marked path #216 to Bodensteiner Alm meadow (1.661m,
altitude gain 795m, about 2 1/2 hours). Path is
winding steeply, crossing the forrest road that connects the
Hottinger Alm and the Arzler Alm three times.
privatly owned and good looking hut at the Bodensteiner Alm. From
Bodensteiner Alm, follow the path further uphill, pass the junction
with trail 219 for Moslalm (forking to the right) and another
one later forking left for Seegrube, continue steeply up
bypassing the antiavalanche fence from the right side. In
another 2 1/2 hours, youll reach the Hafelekar gap. 10 minute stroll
left to the summit. This route is not exercised in winter or
whenever there's too much snow. In summer, the upper part is exposed to
the sun. Milder option is to follow the forrest road either
from Hottinger Alm or Arzler Alm till Seegrube cable car station
(popular MTB trail).
From NE , trailhead at Pfeiss
hutte, follow marked path #219 (Goetheweg), it will
take 3-3 1/2 hours to reach Hafelekarspitze.
by Nordkettebahn all the way from Innsbruck to Hafelekar, 15 minute
stroll to the summit.
Winter ski tour: regular ski
tour is done from the Seegrube only.
Hafelekar Observatory and Victor Hess
summiteers rarely bother with scientific past. And
so, not many of them pay much if any attention to the modest
challet-like construction beneath the Hafelekarspitze. However,
there's a history behind it.
In the days before
particle accelerators existed, physicists climbed mountains
and went up in balloons to observe cosmic rays.
all started in 1931, when Austrian physicist Victor Franz Hess was appointed a professor at the University of
Innsbruck. He founded the station at the Hafelekar
beneath the Hafelekarspitze, for observing and studying
In man's own words: "I
considered this mountain preferable to the Sonnblick
(3100 meters) in spite of its lesser height, since the
latter, where my collaborators, O. Mathias and R. Steinmaurer, had
worked during the summer of 1927 and 1929, is not always
accessible in other seasons. With the kind assistance of the
Mayor and other officials of the city of Innsbruck, and the management
of the Nordkettenbahn, I succeeded in founding this small
observatory on the Hafelekar, called 'Station fuer
Ultrastrahlungsforschung', in the summer of 1931. This
observatory is situated in a wooden chalet exactly on the ridge of the
'Nordkette'. The instruments are set upon large concrete
pillars in a room measuring 4.5 by 4.5 meters. This room is
electrically heated and held at constant temperature by an automatic
temperature-regulator. The ionization-chambers are surrounded
by lead blocks 10 cm thick, in order to screen them from the
gamma-rays of the ground." V. F. Hess in
"Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity", September 1932
oldest Cosmic Ray Observatory is still there, a short stroll from the
Hafelekarspitze. The data from the Hafelekar are sent to World
Data Center A on Solar-Terestrial Physics (Boulder Colorado),
B (Moscow/Russia) and C2 (Tokyo/Japan).
As for Mr.
Hess, a discoverer of cosmic radiation was awarded Nobel prize in 1936. He
relocated to the United States with his Jewish wife in 1938, in order
to escape Nazi persecution, and later became a
naturalized US citizen. Retiring from Fordham in 1956.
Hess died on December 17, 1964, in Mount Vernon, NY.
Inntal chain Panoramic map
Getting there by air
Trip to Hafelekarspitze and, indeed, most of the
Nordkette/Inn valley chain begins at Innsbruck.
there by car: Innsbruck is reachable through both of Tyrol's
motorways: Inntalautobahn (A 12) and Brennerautobahn (A 13). Inntal
autobahn (motorway), from west via Arlberg
tunnel, from south over the Reschenpass. Toll
sticker required. Federal
road No. 182 leads from Brenner pass/Italy.
by train: Main station, Innsbruck
Hauptbahnhof, is located at Südtiroler Platz (South-tyrolean square)
in the east of the city center. Bus station is next to it. Regular
(direct) trains operate from Venice, Bolzano/Bozen, Zurich, Munich,
Graz, Vienna (via Linz and Salzburg). Services
stopping at Innsbruck: Budapest –Vienna–Linz–Salzburg–Wörgl–Innsbruck–Feldkirch–Bregenz/Zürich–Basel
Berlin –Munich–Wörgl–Innsbruck–Brennero/Brenner–Verona–Milan/Rome/Venice Belgrade –Graz–Wörgl–Innsbruck–Feldkirch–Bregenz/Zürich
station is also the central point of the Innsbruck S-Bahn, a
suburban rail traffic system. Suburban trains between
Telfs/Pfaffenhofen - Innsbruck - Hall travel every 30 minutes. Timetable Most
of the bus and tram operator of Innsbruck
lines (IVB) have a
stop at Hauptbahnhof. Station is connected to Innsbruck
Airport with the bus line F.
by plane: Nearest airport is Flughafen Innsbruck
. Served by low-fare carriers (ie. London-Innsbruck, etc.) as well.
Open June 1st -
October 15th 30 beds, 50 bunks, winter
room with 6 bunks
From the hut, it takes about
2 hours to Hafelekarspitze over the Goethe weg. However, hut is much more
often used as base for ascending 6 or 7 other summits; Lattenspitze, Rumer
Spitze, Stempeljochspitzen, Pfeisspitze,
Sonntagkarspitze, Kaskarspitze and Eastern
Praxmarerkarspitze, to name but a few. Very useful hut.