Ötscher lies in the north-east end of the Alps and is part of the Ybbstal Alps. Being the last high mountain in its area, it offers nice views in all directions. The high plateau formed by the old mountains of Bohemian Massif in the north, and the Northern Limestone Alps from Schneeberg over Hochschwab to Totes Gebirge in the south. The isolated position also means it is quite exposed to weather and winds.
Accessible from all sides, it is a popular destination all the year round and offers something to everybody. Hikers and ski tourists ascend mostly from north-west. Alpinists will find some scrambling on the east ridge (Rauher Kamm) interesting, especially in the winter. There is also the north face with wet moss and rotten rock climbing around 4 UIAA and southern ridges offering dwarf pine climbing.
Besides the mountain as such, the famous canyons in the south-east Hintere Tormäuer and Ötschergraben are worth a visit. There is also a small ski area in the north-west, Lackenhof.
- From north, exit the A1 highway at Wieselburg and drive through Scheibbs either to Lackenhof or further to Raneck for hikes and ski ascents, or to Gösing an der Mariazeller Bahn for Tormäuer and Ötschergraben.
- From south, drive through Mariazell either to Wienerbruck (east), Erlaufstausee (south), both starting points for an ascend through Ötschergraben, or to Taschelbach or Langau (west).
- From Lackenhof or from Ötscherwiese. Follow the markings to the Ötscher Schutzhaus (Hut) to south-east, then follow the broad ridge to the top. 2.5h
- Rauher Kamm, the east ridge. From Raneck on a forest road 3.5km to the east (not marked). The marks lead to the right (south) directly to the point 1533m on the ridge. From here on, follow the marked ridge, avoiding most steps in the north flank. The last part is most difficult. After a side peak with a book, cross a meadow to get to the top. I+ UIAA, in winter steep snow fields. 4-5h
- From Ötschergraben, starting either in Wienerbruck or at Erlaufstausee. Cross the entire canyon from east to west. At the end, head to Rauher Kamm or to Ötscher Hut. 5-6h.
- From Taschelbach or Langau, follow the markings to Feldwies. Head north to Kleiner Ötscher, which can be climbed additionally in 30min. From here to Ötscher Hut and to the top. 3.5h
Ski descents, the steepness is just approximate.
- North: Fürstenplan to the WNW, short areas up to 35°, to Lackenhof. Kreuzplan, NW, 30-35°, to Ötscherwiese or Raneck. Juckfidelplan, NNW, 40°, from Taubenstein to Raneck. To get to Raneck, ski the light forest east of Brandkogel.
- South: mostly ascended back after 400-500m. Weiße Mäuerl Flanke 30°. Südkar 30-40° (variants possible). Wagnerritschen, SE, up to 50°.
When to climb
All year. No limitations. A ski ascend through the pistes and the following flat west ridge from Lackenhof is safe. The east ridge and the gullies need stable snow conditions.
Tormäuer and Ötschergraben
The Canyons Tormäuer and Ötschergraben are quite unique in this part of Alps. You can find more informations on Wikipedia
- Ötscher Schutzhaus, a mountain hut belonging to Österreichischer Touristenklub, accessible from Lackenhof (lifts).
- Lackenhof, a ski area with hotels and a camping place.
- Mariazell, a base for Ötschergraben and Tormäuer.
Guides and maps
- For ski touring, the Skitourenatlas Österreich Ost from Kurt Schall covers Ötscher well.
- All a hiker needs is a good map: ÖK 72 Mariazell, or F&B WK 031 Ötscherland.
- On the web, you can see a detailed map on: http://www.austrianmap.at/.