Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 47.31667°N / 11.38333°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Via Ferrata, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 7657 ft / 2334 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Hafelekarspitze & Inntal chain sattelite imageSattelite view
View due SWSummit view #1
Tux AlpsSummit view #2
Kleiner SolsteinSummit view #3
Hafelekarspitze is backyard summit of  Innsbruck,
the biggest city and the capital of the Austrian federal state of Tyrol.

Summit is centrally located on the southernmost chain of the  Karwendel.
Karwendel is the largest range in the Northern Limestone Alps.

Due 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.

In summer, 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.

Consumers 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 reqired.

The only permanent and devoted visitors of the Hafelekarspitze thus remain the Alpine jackdaws,
often seen in large numbers as well.

Main 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.

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.

Sightseeing: 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.

Cosmic mountain

Hafelekar Cosmic radiation observatoryHafelekar Observatory and Victor Hess
Cosmic Observatory present stateNowadays
Prospective 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.

It 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 cosmic rays.

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

The world's 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.


Getting There

Road MapRoad map
Panoramic mapInntal chain Panoramic map
Alpine coughsGetting there by air
Bullet Colour Trip to Hafelekarspitze and, indeed, most of the Nordkette/Inn valley chain begins at Innsbruck.
  • getting 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
    Innsbruck–Fulpmes (Stubaitalbahn)

    Austrian Railways query

    Train 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.

    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.

Huts, Maps, Webcams

Bullet Colour
  • Hut:

    Pfeishütte 1950 m
    wardens: Simon Bock and Iris Bock    
    phone: +43/512/292333
    mobile phone:  +43/660/5295491
    email: info@schafstall.at
    website: www.pfeishuette.at
    Lat / Lon  47.318889 / 11.431111

    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.
  • Maps
    Kompass  Karwendelgebirge:
    Wander-, Rad- und Skitourenkarte [Folded Map]
    Online map -  you'll have to pan manually around the area

  • Webcams
    Nordkette webcam