The Roetspitze (original german spelling: "Rötspitze"; italian name: "Pizzo Rosso") is considered as the most beautiful mountain of the Venediger Group: a symmetric big white bell at the meeting point of the main valleys "Ahrntal", "Virgental" and "Defereggental".
Local authors as Walter Mair or Louis Oberwalder compared the mountain with the Cordilleras in South America - well that's perhaps too much local patriotism.
The normal route to the Roetspitze follows the NE-ridge which builds the most elegant line at the mountain, where rocks and ice vary. Climbing the Roetspitze requires a long approach by car (or public bus) to the final villages of either the Ahrntal valley or the Virgental valley. So you will not meet there as many climbers as at mountains that can be reached faster from the big cities. If you chose the Defereggental for your ascent, you will probably be alone because no hut provides shelter.
Roetspitze / Pizzo Rosso is a beautiful mountain no matter which side you look at: the following pictures are a journey around the mountain against the clock, starting from SW:
The fore-summit of the Untere Roetspitze (3290 m) is a landmark of the NE ridge that falls down to Vorderes Umbaltoerl pass (2926m) . South of Roetspitze is Daberspitze (3401m), a sharp, rocky and very seldom visited pyramid, separated by Welitzscharte notch (3181m)
Umbaltal (Austrian side)
Windtal (Italian side)
Depends on which valley you choose for your ascent.
Camping / Accomodation
Official camping sites can be found in the valleys near the villages.. In the mountains itself, camping isn't allowed in the national park, but alpine bivuoacs are. Climbers normally sleep in one of the huts:
Clara-Huette (2038 m); 3 h hiking trail from Streden along the beautiful Umbal waterfalls (many tourists!)
If you want to climb the Roetspitze from south from the Defereggental valley, a bivuoac above the Jagdhausalm may be necessary. In summertime perhaps sleeping in a hayloft at the Jagdhausalm (2009 m) may be possible.
According to guidebook "Venedigergruppe", Bergverlag Rother, 3rd edition 1982
- NE-ridge (UIAA I) normal route from either Lenkjoechl hut, Clara hut or Kl.-Philipp-Reutter-hut. I and some other climbers consider parts of the rocks as UIAA II, so you should not underestimate the climb
- SW-flank, UIAA I, 5 h from the Jagdhausalpe
- SSE-ridge, UIAA I, more direct ascent from the Clara hut, very steep slopes of grass at the beginning, 5 h
- E-flank, snow or ice, 55°, 300 m
- direct NW-face, UIAA IV, V-
- WNW-ridge, UIAA III-
- W-ridge, UIAA III+
more routes in the flanks of the mountains have very loose rock and are only of some historical interest
The austrian side of the mountain belongs to the Hohe Tauern National Park but climbing isn't restricted.
When To Climb
July to September is the summer season.
a winters ascent
An ascent with Ski in spring (March to May) is possible from the western, italian side until the fore-summit of the Untere Roetspitze (3290 m). Proceeding from there to the summit demands climbing steep snow flanks or ridges and cannot be done with ski.
You should _not_ enter the eastern, austrian, Umbaltal valley before June. This valley is very V-shaped and there is an extreme risk of avalanches from the steep slopes on both sides of the valley.
Not a normal tour sking trip is an ascent of the direct west face from Roettal valley, and the downhill there. Nevertheless possible for very good skiers and climbers, see this instructive picture gallery.
Best map is Alpenvereinskarte (map of the german and austrian alpine club) 1:25.000 Nr. 36 "Venedigergruppe". But this map does not cover the trails to the Lenkjoechl hut on italian side.
Best map for italian side is Tabacco 1:25.000 Nr. 35 "Ahrntal - Rieserfernergruppe", available at Aree Greul
A good hiking map is Freytag Berndt 1:50.000 Nr. WK 123 "Defereggental und Virgental"
- Pause, Klassische Alpengipfel, BLV München 1986, ISBN 3-405-13153-7
- Schnürer, Bergsteigen in Südtirol Band 1, BLV München 1983, ISBN 3-405-12211-2
- Schnürer, Hohe Tauern, BLV München 1983, ISBN 3-405-12639-8
all out of print but available mostly on www.zvab.com
first ascent by Lieutenant J. Breymann and some helpers in order to do surveys for a military map in August 1854. They stayed 5 days on the summit in a bivuoac until work was finished! First ascent for alpinistic reasons by Theodor Harpprecht with guide Josef Schnell on August 1st 1871, on today's normal route.
The name of the mountain comes from the Ahrntal valley because of the little red colour of the stones. Until the 1980ies there was a copper mine near Kasern which still can be visited. The old name of the mountain "Welitzspitze" (= white peak) is almost forgotten now and lives only in the name of the eastern glacier called Welitzkees.