The Hintergrat is a logical route to the Ortler on the ridge that spreads wide to the east with a remarkable shoulder. It is a bit more difficult than the normal route from the Payer hut but it provides a very impressive traverse of the mountain, climbing on an exposed ridge with fantastic views to all sides.
The Hintergrat is climbed often in the summer season and so it is better to avoid the weekend to avoid traffic jam in the difficult parts.
Difficulties concentrate on the final 200 meters. Up to the Signalkopf (3723 m) it is only strenous.
From the famous village Sulden/Solda (1846 m) a marked mountain path leads to the Hintergrat-Huette/Rifugio del Coston (2661 m)
where normal climbers stay the night; 2,5 h, shorter when you use cablecars to the Schaubachhuette (mid-station) or Langenstein. Owner of the hut are the mountainguides of Sulden. About 70 beds, guided from July to the end of September.
First follow a path to a big slope with rubblestones (difficult to follow in the dark) and a couloir to the Fore-summit Oberer Knott (3480 m) where you meet the ridge for the first time.
The following walk through snow to the Signalkopf (3723 m) is also easy. Some meters before the highest rocks a layer crosses at the left side to reach the ridge again behind the Signalkopf. There is usally a little rope that helps over the next steep meters (without it is UIAA IV-V). Climb a steep snow field than again rocks (one part UIAA III). Again some ice and the final rocks that are quite easy. About 6 h to the summit
Descend on the normal route
Nomal harness for glacier climbs; Some layers for the rocks. Perhaps a second ice axe for the first climber if there is pure ice on the ridge.
Summer from mid of July to end of September
The Ortler mountain has first been climbed 1804 on a route from Trafoi that is not common today because of loose rocks.
In Summer 1805 Ortler was climbed several times on the Hintergrat Route by an "expedition" sent by Erzherzog Johann for scientific / touristic reason. The Ortler was the highest "german mountain" then and therefore important; a flag and a fire on the summit showed everybody the "victory" of Ltd. Gebhard, the leader of the expedition. There were fixed ropes on the ridge to lead him to the top.
After that wars with Napoleon were more important for the austrian emperor.
It is hard to believe that the ascent over the Hintergrat was completely forgotten for decades. The rare ascents until 1870 were done on other routes. The first man to redescover the route was Theodor Harpprecht (from my hometown Stuttgart) with guide Peter Dangl on July 19th 1872. Since then the Hintergrat is the 2nd normal Route to the Ortler
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