Similaun North Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 46.76760°N / 10.88810°E
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Ice Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 55°
Sign the Climber's Log


Similaun north face 1990
Similaun north face 1990


Similaun 3599 m is one of the most famous icy peaks of the Alpi Venoste/Ötztal Alps, located on the border between Austria and Italy (Alto Adige). It is a beautiful mountain frequently climbed along the Normal route. In addition the peak caught the attention of the media on 19th September 1991 because of a very singular event. Similaun in fact is located near the place, named Giogo di Tisa 3210 m, where it was found the mummy of "Ötzi", the Iceman.

Similaun is also well-known for its icy North face. Unfortunately the classic North face routes described in this page has now become very difficult to climb. Like different other ice walls in the Alps, the North face of Similaun has definitely changed, due to the climatic changes of the last decades. Now it is not easy to find good conditions to climb it, due to the massive melting of the ice cap in the upper part of the wall and the consequent danger of falling rocks.  So this climb can only be traveled in Spring after a Winter with much snowfalls, maybe. I climbed it in the summer of 1998 and already in those days I found bad quality snow and loose rocks.


Mt. Similaun is above all known due to Oetzi the Iceman, who was found on the 3,210 m high Giogo di Tisa saddle in 1991. As the mountain belongs to two national territories, first it was not sure whether Oetzi should be awarded to Italy or Austria. Nowadays, however, the world-famous mummy can be visited at the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano, and on the place of discovery there has been established a giant obelisk.

Getting there

From the Martin-Busch-Hut: 3 h until the foot of the northface (3250m) over the Marzellglacier, direction: Similaunjoch.

From the Rifugio Similaun 

Route Description


Exploring the crux of the North Face of the Similaun





The Northface is quite regularly steep, between 45° and 55° (key passage at the end). It does not have seracs. It is 350 m high. You need 2 1/2 - 4 h for the face. In early summer, there is no objective danger except snowboarders coming down ... Later in the summer, it becomes snowless, and the danger of rockfall rises. This northface is not difficult and therefore suitable for beginners of northface climbing. Nevertheless, the view is beautiful. Normally, you do not need any rope. It is simply a pleasure tour. The route goes through the middle-left part of the northface and directly to the summit. The problems at the end (at the climbing out) are the snow cornices.

Essential Gear

Rope, harness, haelmet, 2 ice-axes, crampons.

Red Tape

No fees no permits required


Rifugio Similaun
Rifugio Similaun



Rifugio Similaun




Other info about recent climbs of the North wall


North wall


Member Profile Photo
Member Profile Photo


The former maintainer of this page and early SummitPost member Rahel Maria Liu died for hypotermia on 24/25 August 2004 after being caught in a freak snowstorm while attempting to climb the Innominata Spur on the southern (Italian) face of Mont Blanc. Edward Allen, her climbing companion (a British climber known some days early), was saved by an helicopter of the Italian Rescue team.  Rahel was a charter member during SP's early days, and her work here remains among the best of SP's collected contributions. Her knowledge and experience has made an impact on the world mountaineering community, and her warmth and friendship will be long remembered among her many friends and fellow members here at SummitPost. She will be greatly missed by us all. She was only 34 years old. Continued maintenance of this page is in her memory. 

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Bart - Nov 6, 2006 12:20 pm - Voted 7/10

Changing conditions

We climbed the Similaun north face in may 2006 and found the crux to be the middle of the route where you have to climb and traverse through a rocky outcrop covered in a flimsy layer of snow at about 55 degrees. There were no cornices at the end and the route got less steep towards the summit ridge!

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