The Ortler / Ortles Group seen from above Sesvenna Hut
The Ortler / Ortles Group (in German often called Ortleralpen, in Italian often named Ortes / Cevedale Group) is one of the most important mountain ranges of the eastern Alps. Not as high as the Bernina Group to its west or as large as the Hohe Tauern Group further east it nevertheless ranks second in both statistics. The group is located between Lombardia, Trentino and Südtirol / Alto Adige, mostly on Italian ground but two of the northernmost subgroups stretch over into Switzerland. Named after its highest summit Ortler / Ortles (and its second highest Zufallsspitze / Cevedale) the range is mainly known for the glaciated mountains in its centre while the outlying eastern and southern areas are excellent hiking detinations. With Trafoier Eiswand and the north faces of Ortler / Ortles and Königspitze / Gran Zebru there are three of the most important ice climbing destinations of the Eastern Alps in this Group.
The boundaries of the Ortler / Ortles Group are:
Vinschgau / Val Venosta and Münstertal / Val Müstair in the north
Val Pescara and Marauntal / Val Marano in the east
Val di Sole and Val Vermiglio in the south
The line Bormio - Passo di Gavia - Ponte di Legno in the west
The Group around Monte Sobretta and Monte Gavia used to be assigned ass a subdivision of the Ortler / Ortles Group until 1984, when it was decided to be a standalone group. Here on this page the subgroup will be added until a separate page will come up. In can be found to the south-west of the Ortler / Ortles Group (beyond subgroups 3, 6 and 8 on the overview map of the next section).
The use of two names for most of the mountains already indicates that the GGerman - Italian language border runs across the group. While the southern areas in Trentino and Lombardia have always been Italian, the northern parts belonged to Austria (with exception of the north-westernmost Swiss corner) until the end of the first World War. During the war, the area around Stilfser Joch / Passo di Stelvio was heavily contested with both Austrian and Italian armies trying to place their posiitions as close to the Swiss border as possible in order to avoid shelling across the neutral country. During the war the highest position was on the Ortler / Ortles summit itself, overall the highest military position of the war. After the war in 1918 - according to the peace treaty of St. Germain the whole of Südtirol was handed over to Italy, including the northern parts of the Ortler / Ortles Group.
A second boundary runs through - or rather around - the group: the peradriatic fault. This tectonic fault line separates the Italian peninsula from the central European plate. The collision of the two plates is responsible for the upheaval of the Alps and in its vicinity you often find a rather complex geology. The fault line encompasses the group in the south and east, then heading over to Pustertal / Val Pusteria and the easternmost part of the Alps. Much of the range is made up from dolomite and limestone and thus closely related to the "Engandin Dolomites", i.e. the Sesvenna Group to its north-west. Mainly the high glaciated summits around Ortler / Ortles belong to this fraction. Much of the eastern part of the range is made up from reddish Gneiss, often in combination with schist like slabs. South of Laas in Vinschgau / Val Venosta there is one of the most important marble mines of the region.
Falatschkamm is the northernmost subgroup of the Ortler / Ortles Group in the eastern Alps. It is also one of the smallest and lowest subgroups where only two of the two dozen summits exceed 3000m. The subgroup consists of two ridges - a main ridge, which gave rise to the name, and a side ridge with a mere two summits to the west. Both ridges run south to north with the highest mountains in the south. To the north the subgroup ends high above the confluence of Münstertal / Val Müstair into Vinschgau / Val Venosta. To the south it ends in Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio, which separates Trafoier Tal / Val di Trafoi from Valle di Braulio. The western boundary of the group is Val Muraunza, which heads up from Münster / Müstair to Umbrailpass / Giogo di Santa Maria.
The Umbrail Group is located on the Swiss - Italian border. It is bounded by Val Muraunza in the east, Val Müstair in the north, Val Gallo and Valle di Fraéle in the south-west as well as Valle del Braulio in the south-east. The group consists of three subranges, two ridges and a loose assortment of lesser mountains. The Main Ridge at the same time is the border between Switzerland and Italy and consists of the highest mountains of the group. Half a dozen mountains surmount 3000m with Piz Murtaröl / Cima la Casina being the highest one at 3180m. To the north, separated from the main ridge by Val Mora, there is a second smaller and lower ridge. Its highest mountain is Piz Dora at 2968m. The third group, a loose assortment of four summits is located in the very west of the group and topped by Cima del Seraglio (2684m).
Terrain map of Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo
Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo consists of a moderately long ridge running from east to west, with three northern and one southern side ridges. Thanks to its easy accessibility, especially from the north, where Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio with its ski lifts, huts and bivouacs offers an abundance of accommodation opportunities the subgroup is one of the more popular mountaineering destination in the Ortler / Ortles Alps. Geographically, Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo is wedged between Valle del Braulio in the north and Valfurva in the south. Both valleys combine in the basin of Bormio, where Kristallkamm suddenly rises from the valley floor to almost 3000m. The eastern boundary of the subgroup is Ortlerpass / Passo di Ortles which separates it from Ortler / Ortles itself, and thus from Ortlerhauptkamm / Cresta Principale dell'Ortles. Geologically, Kristallkamm / Cresta del Cristallo is made up from main dolomite, thus indicating its relation to the Sesvena and Umbrail Groups to the north rather than the eastern subgroups of the Ortler / Ortles Range.
6 - Ortlerhauptkamm / Cresta Principale dell'Ortles
Terrain map of Ortlerhauptkamm / Cresta Principale dell'Ortles
The Ortler / Ortles Group is one of the largest mountain ranges of the eastern Alps and also one of its tallest. Out of its ten (or eleven) subgroups the smallest but in no way least important one is located in its centre - a single ridge running north to south: Ortlerhauptkamm / Cresta Principale dell'Ortles (Ortler main ridge). It contains the two highest mountains of the group, Königspitze / Gran Zebru and obviously Ortler / Ortles. Together with Monte Zebru they form the famous Ortler / Ortles trinity (see signature picture). In addition to these three high mountains there are half a dozen lesser ones, mainly on the northern and southern part of the ridge but also on the shorter and steeper side ridges.
The boundaries of the group are well defined: in the north the ridge starts south of the hamlet of Gomagoi (where the Sulden / Solda road turns of from SS38 to Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio. The eastern boundary is Suldental / Valle di Solda, which ends in Langenferner Joch / Passo del Cevedale. From here the southern boundary is formed two high valleys leading to Passo del Zebru and down into Valle dello Zebru. The western boundary is Valle Rin Maré, which crosses Ortlerpass / Passo dell'Ortles and across Unterer Ortlerferner / Vedretta bassa dell Ortles into Trafoital / Valle di Trafoi
7 - Laas - Marteller Kamm / Gruppo Vertana-Angelo-Lasa
Laas - Marteller Kamm / Gruppo Vertana-Angelo-Lasa
Laas - Marteller Kamm / Gruppo Vertana-Angelo-Lasa is formed like a triangle (see the Google Map in the summits section) which is located right across Suldental / Val di Solda from the Ortler Main Ridge. Its boundaries are Suldental / Val di Solda in the west and Martelltal / Valle di Martello in the east, which both join at Eisseepass / Passo di Lago Gelato in the southern tip of the triangle. The northern boundary is Vinschgau / Val Venosta. From there, from the village of Laas / Lasa, a steep Valley cuts into the group: Laaser Tal / Valle di Lasa. It separates the northern part of the group in two - the eastern ridgeline of Marteller Westkamm / Cresta di Martello Occidentale and the half dozen ridgelines of Suldenkamm / Cresta di Solda in the west. Both groups join forces in the central mountain of the group, Schildspitze / Punta di Scudo, from which the main ridge runs towards Eisseepass / Passo di Lago Gelato.
Most of the mountains of the group are either hiking summits or easy mountaineering destinations. In winter almost all of them are climbed as ski tours. In any case you will have to scale huge elevation differences as even the unimportant summits reach between 2700 and 2900m while the starting points in the valley can be as low as 850m (Laas / Lasa). The ends of both Suldental / Val di Solda and Martelltal / Valle di Martello are already above 1800m while the upper end of Laaser Tal / Val di Lasa reaches more than 2000m. Consequently you will find all the mountain huts of the group in these places. Most popular hiking summits are Vorderes Schöneck and Hinteres Schöneck as well as Hintere Schöntaufspitze, which can be reached from the Sulden ski area. Cable-cars facilitate the ascents.
Google Terrain map of Cresta Confinale. Zoom in to see the mountain names.
Cresta Confinale is the smallest of the subgroups of the Ortler / Ortles Group and is often considered to be part of Ortlerhauptkamm, the main ridge around the highest summits of the range. However, it is separated from the main ridge by Valle dello Zebrú and connects to it only by Passo del Zebrú. The northern boundary is the already mentioned Valle dello Zebrú, the western one is Valfurva, the southern boundary is Valle dei Forni, while the eastern one is Valle di Cedec.
Cresta Confinale is a single ridge running west to east, which culminates in Monte Confinale (3370m). It contains a number of smaller, quickly vanishing glaciers on its northern side.
Monte dei Forni (3035m)
Sasso Prealda (2709m)
Sasso di Manzina (2920m)
Cime dei Forni (3247m, 3240m, 3232m, 3227m)
Cima della Manzina (3318m)
Monte Ables (3137m)
Monte Confinale (3370m)
Cima delle Saline (3073m)
Piccon di Saline (2995m)
Monte Forcellino (2842m)
9 - Marteller Hauptkamm / Cresta Principale di Martello
Google Terrain map of Marteller Hauptkamm/ Cresta Principale di Martello. Zoom in to see the mountain names.
The largest subgroup of the large Ortler / Ortles Group is located at its north-western end. It is a single ridge, which stretches from the central part of the range, i.e. from the vicinity of Monte Cevedale, all the way to the north-west, where it ends right above the city of Meran / Merano. It is wedged between Ultental / Val d'Ultimo in the south, lower Vinschgau / Val Venosta in the north and Martelltal / Val di Martello in the west. From this latter valley, or rather the village at the mouth of it the subgroup derives its name: Marteller Hauptkamm. Literally translated, this would be Cresta Principale di Martello in Italian or Martell Main Ridge in English.
The crest stretches some 25km from WSW to ENE with the highest mountains, all 3000ers, at one end from where elevations gradually drop until they reach some 1600m before finally dropping into the Etsch / Adige basin above Meran / Merano. Consequently the different parts of the range are very different and activities also vary a lot. While in the higher parts there are only few hiking trails and most mountains are reserved for alpinists the western parts of the ridge are wonderful hiking grounds with a huge network of trails. In winter, however, all parts of the subgroup attract tour skiers and there is many a mountain which gets ascents in the wintertime.
Google Terrain map of the Cevedale - Vioz - San Matteo Group. Zoom in to see the mountain names.
Almost all of the mountains of this subgroup are located on two ridges, which together appear to be S-shaped. Valle del Monte separates the ridges. The northern main ridge runs from Cevedale southward to Monte Vioz, turns west, passing the mighty Ghiacciaio dei Forni (Forni Glacier) to Punta San Matteo, from where it reaches its endpoint, Corno dei Tre Signori, the westernmost mountain of the group. The south ridge first runs south-eastward along the Ercavallo Crest towards Forcellina di Montozzo from where it heads north-westward across Monte Redival towards Peio. The mountains on the south ridge are far less important than the northern ones.
Google Terrain map of the Creste di Peio e Rabbi. Zoom in to see the mountain names.
Located between the Valleys of Pejo and Rabbi this subgroup is a single crest running from the centre of the Ortler / Ortles Group towards Val di Sole in the south. It has its start at Bocca di Saent, where several of the subgroups meet. The saddle is the most important pass in the half circle of mountains which circle Moosferner / Vedretta di Careser one of the most important glaciers of the range.
The highest mountain, Cima Careser, also is part of that half-circle of mountains, and but for Cima Mezzena the northernmost mountain of the subgroup. The crest runs north to south but at Cima Vegaia, east of Pejo, it turns eastward and runs out above the mouth of Valle di Rabbi, above Male. The south of the group is a popular hiking area, thanks to wide pastures on the south slopes and the area of glacier lakes around Lago Rotondo, which can be easily reached from Rabbi.
Cima Mezzena (3172m)
Cima Careser (3188m)
Cima Campisol (3159m)
Cima Lagolungo (3165m)
Cima Ponte Vecchio (3162m)
Cima Cavaion (3120m)
Cima Verdignana (2938m)
Cima Ganani (2889m)
Cima Vallon (2892m)
Cima Grande (2901m)
Cima Cadinel (2864m)
Cima Vegaia (2890m)
Monte le Pozze (2773m)
Cima Bassetta (2770m)
Cima Tremenesca (2726m)
Monte Polinar (2604m)
Cima Valetta (2828m)
Cima Mezzana (2845m)
Monte Saleci (2680m)
Monte Gamberai (2423m)
Sass dell’Anel (2368m)
Monte Camucina (2287m)
12 - Ultentalkamm / Cresta Val Ultima
Google Terrain map of Ultentalkamm / Cresta Val d'Ultimo. Zoom in to see the mountain names.
Ultental / Val d'Ultimo stretches deep into inside the Ortler / Ortles Group from the east. It starts at Lana near Meran / Merano and ends in several branches near the central part of the greater Group. The most important of these branches is Kirchbergtal / Val Montechiesa, which ends in Passo di Rabbi. Ultental / Val d'Ultimo is accompanied by two long ridges, which are both considered subgroups of the Ortler / Ortles Group: Marteller Hauptkamm / Cresta Principale di Martello in the north and west and Ultentalkamm / Cresta Val d'Ultimo in the south.
Ultentalkamm / Cresta Val d'Ultimo, much like its northern counterpart, starts in the south-east, close to the centre of the Ortler / Ortles Group. It is separated from Marteller Hauptkamm / Cresta Principale di Martello by Schwarzer Joch / Giogo Nero, an only slightly pronounced saddle at 2822m. Right to the south of the saddle you can find the highest mountain of the group, Gleckspitze / Collechio (2957m). Unlike the northern subgroup, however, it is composed of several ridges, all separated by the important passes of the group. The northern boundary, quite obviously, is Ultental / Val d'Ultimo, the southern boundaries are Valle di Rabbi and Val di Sole while the eastern boundary is composed by Val Pescara and Marauntal / Val Marano. These latter valleys separate the Ortler / Ortles Group from the Nonsberg Group and it is here that the Peradriatic Fault separates the North-African from the Eurasian tectonic plate.
Google Terrain map of the Sobretta - Gavia Group. Zoom in to see the mountain names.
As mentioned in the overview section, the Sobretta - Gavia Group (Italian Gruppo Gavia - Sobretta - Serottini) used to be considered part of the Ortler / Ortles Group up to 1984, when a new convention of the groups of the eastern Alps was defined, after which the range is ranked as standalone group. For the time being - and until a group page will be put up the Sobretta Gavia Group will find a home here. The group is named after its two (three) cornerstone mountains, Monte Sobretta in the north, Monte Gavia in the east and Monte Serotttini in the south-west.
Its boundaries are Valtelina / Veltlin to the west, the line Bormio - Passo di Gavia - Ponte di Legno in the east and Valcamonica to the south. The group is divided into two parts by Valle di Rezzalo and Valle dell Alpe, which connect in Passo dell Alpe. The northern part is shaped like a horseshoe with Monte Sobretta at its apex. The southern part is a long ridge starting at Passo di Gavia and ending at Dosso Signeul, thus running from north-east to south-west. Several important side ridges stretch from Cima di Savoretta towards the south-east.
Cima Bianca (3018m)
Monte Vallecetta (3148m)
Monte Oultoir (2648m)
Monte Mala (2943m)
Dosso Sobretta (2617m)
Monte Sobretta (3296m)
Corno di Profa (3069m)
Punta di Polore (2925m)
Cima di Profa Alta (2907m)
Corno di Boéro (2878m)
Cima di Gavia (2991m)
Monte Gavia (3223m)
Savoretta Tonda (3010m)
Cima di Savoretta (3096m)
Monte dei Poltron (2702m)
Cima delle Pozze (2656m)
Punta di Pietra Rossa (3212m)
Cima Monticello (3161m)
Punta di Monticelli (2636m)
Monte Coleazzo (3006m)
Cima Bleis di Somathosco (2638m)
Cime di Pietra Rossa (2679m, 2867m, 2992m)
Cime di Giere (2776m, 2739m, 2747m)
Cime del Tirlo (2786m, 2829m, 2861m)
Cima Mattaciul (2852m)
Monte Bles (2826m)
Cimini della Torre (2236m)
Cima Muralta (2521m)
Cime delle Relle (2519m)
Cima Revala (2517m)
Corno dei Becchi (2822m)
Corno Dombastone (2623m)
Sasso Maurone (2722m)
Sasso Grande (2673m)
Corno Tremoncelli (2834m)
Corni di Cevole (2783m)
Monte Tremoncelli (2724m)
Corno del Ormacciolo (2409m)
Monte Serottini (2961m)
I Dossoni (2910m)
Monte Seroti (2643m)
Cime di Grom (2773m)
Punta Alta alla Croce (2501m)
Monte Varadega (2634m)
Monte Resverde (2347m)
Piz de la Casüce (2273m)
Dosso Signeul (1952m)
14 - Getting There
As the Ortler / Ortles Group is huge itineraries can be long and depend on the final destination.
14.1 - Northern access
The easiest way to reach the Ortler / Ortles Group from the north is from the Vinschgau Valley / Val Venosta. Two valleys cut more or less deep into the group: Martelltal / Val Martello and Suldental / Val di Solda. You can reach the area from Brenner Motorway A12 via SS38 from the exit Bozen Süd / Bolzano Sud. Northern access (from Austria) runs across Reschenpass / Passo di Resia via SS40.
14.2 - Eastern access
There is only one valley, which leads into the Ortler / Ortles Group from the east: Ultental Val d'Ultimo. You reach it most easily from the Brenner Motorway A12, taking the exit Bozen Süd / Bolzano Sud, and using SS38. Take the exit Lana, drive through the town, following the signs for Ultental / Val d'Ultimo.
14.3 - Southern access
Val di Sole, which runs towards Passo Tonale, together with Valle delle Messi forms the southern boundary of the group. Three valley cut into the group: Valle di Peio, Valle di Rabbi and Valle di Bresimo. From Brenner Motorway A12 it can be reached taking the exit San Michele all'Adige using SS43, later SS42. From BergamoSS42 leads all the way to Ponte di Legno and Passo Tonale.
14.4 - Eastern access
The eastern part of the Ortler / Ortles Group is most difficult to reach due to the fact that only narrow valleys lead there, often across famous passes. There is no major highway in the area. Access from the north is through Vinschgau Valley / Val Venosta (see above) and across Stilfser Joch / Passo dello Stelvio using SS38. From the south follow SS42 from either side to Ponte di Legno, then switch to SS300 which runs along the east of the group.
15 - 13 Summits Tour
Ghiacciaio dei Forni
The 13 summits tour is a three day trek across the mountains, which encompass the Forni Glacier. It starts at Passo di Gavia and ends at Rifugio Cassati never dropping below 3000m.
15.1 - Day One: From Passo di Gavia to Bivacco Meneghello (3-4 hours, PD+)
From Santa Canterina Valfurva (Valtellina - Italy) take the car (bus / taxi) Passo di Gavia. Start on the normal route to Pizzo Tresero (3594m), passing Bivacco Seveso and using the south-west ridge of the mountain. A rocky traverse leads to Punta Pedranzini (3599), and on to Cima Dosegù (3560m) with a beautiful view of the San Matteo north face.
Turn south-east onto a short but rocky ridge (in poor visibility head further south across easy rocks). An easy snow-ridge of 45° leads to Punta San Matteo (3678m). The path now leads down through the south slopes of Monte Giumella (3596m), from where a short ascent can take you to the summit in a few minutes. Finally head down to Colle degli Orsi, in which you find Bivacco Meneghello.
15.2 - Day Two: From Bivacco Meneghello to Rifugio Mantova al Vioz (6-7 hours, AD)
From Bivacco Meneghello start the west ridge to Punta Cadini (3524m). Descend the rocky Rocca di Santa Caterina south-ridge. Climb a small wall from where, staying on the ridge you reach Cima di Peio (3549m) and later Punta Taviéla (3612m). The descent of this mountain amounts to the hardest part of the whole tour. Head for a saddle and on along the west ridge to Monte Vioz (3645m). Head down for overnight accommodation to Rifugio Mantova al Vioz in a few minutes
15.3 - Day Three: From Rifugio Mantova al Vioz to Rifugio Casati (6h, PD)
From Rifugio Mantova al Vioz head back to the summit of Monte Vioz (15 minutes). Head north across glacier terrain through the pass of Vedretta Rosa and up the easy south-west ridge of Palon de la Mare (3703m). Head down for the saddle Col de la Mare, from where you cross towards Monte Rosole (3536m).
Descend towards Passo Rosole from where you climb the south-west ridge of Monte Cevedale (3769m), the highest point of the whole tour. Descend via the Cevedale normal route towards Rifugio Casati.
16 - Red Tape
The central part of the Ortler Group with almost all 3000ers is part of Nationalpark Stilfser Joch / Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio, where the usual restrictions in national parks apply. The north-westernmost corner of the group, in the north-west of the Umbrail Subgroup belongs to Schweizerischer Nationalpark / Parco Nazionale Svizzero where even fiercer restrictions are enforced.
Find more information on the websites of the respective parks: