Similaun is one of the classic glacier mountains of the Ötztal Alps – or perhaps the most classic for some reasons.
- It is located on the border between Austria and Italy, that means "north and south", "cold and warm", even "beer and wine" and therefore in a very central position
- The nearby Niederjoch pass (3019m) is a popular mountain pass, often crossed by hikers, even mountain bikers, though you touch the (rather harmless) Niederjochferner glacier. It exeeds the "magic" 3000m elevation line. Similaun is the dominating mountain nearby and therefor attracts many people. Smiliaun hut (3019m) at Niederjoch pass is a ideal basis. From there climbing Similaun is a rather short trip.
- The name sounds strange for modern ears, neither German nor Italian, and points back in times when nowerdays borders and languages did not exist.
- Each year hundreds of sheep cross Niederjoch pass from the southern Schnalstal valley to the more green pastures of the Ötztal valley in May and back in fall – each time a big media event.
- In 1991 the "Ötzi" ice mummy has been found in the area. Though the exact location where it was found is west of the Niederjoch, half way to Fineilspitze, it has been named "man of the Similaun", because Similaun just is the more popular name. Visiting the cairn that has been built at this location, has made the area even more popular.
The normal route to Similaun is a rather easy glacier walk with a nice little firn ridge at the end. So it is the ideal trip for beginners and thousands (including me) have climbed Similaun as their first glacier mountain.
Smilaun was also well-known for its icy north face. But as a tribute to global warming the ice has melted completely in the upper part in the last decade. So this climb can only be done in spring after a winter with much snow. Much more popular nowerdays is climbing Similaun with ski in spring, often as a part of the multi-day route "Venter Ski-Runde"
Similaun and Niederjochferner glacier
Getting There1. To the Similaun:
2. To the Martin-Busch-Hütte (2501 m):
- a. You can come from the Martin-Busch-Hütte (2501 m).
- b. You can come from the Similaunhütte (3019m).
3.To the Similaunhütte (3019m):
- You reach the hut from Vent in Ötztal in 2 1/2 h. You have only to follow the wide road (without cars). It is marked with the number 923. It is a very beautiful way with a wonderful view through the valley along the river. There is no problem on this road.
- You reach Vent on the road through the Ötztal from Ötztal (trainstation) via Ötz, Sölden and Zwieselstein with bus/taxi or car. In Zwieselstein, you have to turn right to the Venter Tal.
- You reach Ötztal by train (station: Ötztal Bahnhof) or car on the A12 from Innsbruck (E) or from Bludenz (W) on the E60 and A12 via Landeck. Turn off at Ötztal.
- You reach the hut a. from Vent via Martin-Busch-Hut in 4-5h on a partly marked way, and b. from Vernagt in 3-4h. It is a marked way (no. 2). You need a secure step. If there is snow it could be a little bit tricky.
- You reach Vernagt on the road from Naturns/Naturno via Madonna di S. Naturns is just a few kilometers western of Meran. You reach it from Meran on the road no. ss38.
Routes-Overview1. Normal route/west ridge
- from the Martin-Busch-Hut (3 1/2 to 5 hours) or from the Similaunhut (1-2h); descent: W-ridge in 3/4 h to Similaunhütte, 2 h to Martin-Busch-Hütte
- steep firn flank, from Martin-Busch-Hut, 1 h from Similaunjoch
- from Vorderkaser (6-7h) or from Mittelkaser (5-6h) or from Unser Frau (6-7 h)
- from Martin-Busch-Hut, 4-5 h, exhausting because of many ups and downs, but nice landscape
- 50°, rocks UIAA II, 350m, 2,5-4 h
When To Climb
Generally March to May with ski and June to September on foot are the usual season times
best printed map is Alpenvereinskarte 1:25000 no. 30/1 Ötztaler Alpen. Gurgl
(to order at DAV Shop
Infos1. GENERAL INFOS:
- Walter Klier, Ötztaler Alpen. Alpenvereinsführer. 14th ed. Munich 2005, ISBN 3763311238
- Andreas Jentzsch, Axel Jentzsch-Rabl, Firn- und Eisklettern in den Ostalpen, Bad Häring 2004, ISBN 3950092005
Martin Busch hut
1. Martin-Busch-Hütte (2501 m):
The Martin-Busch-Hütte is situated southeastern below the Kreuzspitze, in the back Niedervalley.
according to Klier:
2. Similaunhütte (3019m):
- 176 beds
- winter room with 15 beds (open)
- serviced from 1. March till Whitsun and from 25. June till the end of september
- phone: ++43(0)5254/8130 (valley)
- internet: Martin-Busch-Hütte
The Similaunhütte is situated above the W-side of the Niederjochglacier on italian territory. Official border transition: 30. june to 30. september.
according to Klier:
- 60 beds
- serviced from the end of february to middle of may, middle june to middle october
- phone: ++43(0)5254/8119 (Austria) or ++390(0)473/89711 (Italy)
- internet: Similaunhütte
Route description with pictures (in German)
- Austrian Map online
Online digital maps of Austria (OEK 50, OEK 200 and OEK 500) by the BEV (Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen) - in German
In memoriam Rahel Maria Liu
Rahel was the original writer of this page. She was a skilled and enthusiastic climber with a preferrence for north faces and had climbed Similaun north face in 1999.
Rahel froze to death on 24/25th August 2004 in a heavy snowstorm during a climb of the Innominata Spur on the southern (Italian) face of Mont Blanc. She was only 34 years old.