Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 46.96672°N / 10.90548°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 10669 ft / 3252 m
Sign the Climber's Log


WassertalkogelWassertalkogel as seen from the northern part of Mainzer Höhenweg

Wassertalkogel is the southernmost high summit of Geigenkamm range within Ötztal Alps.

The summit rises about 1.600 m above Pitztal valley to the west and about 800 m above Pollestal, a tributary valley to Ötztal, to the east. To the north is located the lower summit of Sonnenkogel, a secondary summit to mighty Puitkogel. To the south Geigenkamm range extends for about two more kilometers with the minor summits of Gschrappkogel, Wurmsitzkopf and Polleskögel until it ends at Pitztaler Jöchl, the linking col to Ötztaler Wildspitze subgroup.

Wassertalkogel, a broad heap of dark rock and scree, would not be a very attractive mountain without one feature: an alpine trail called Mainzer Höhenweg, the linking trail between Rüsselsheimer Hütte to the north and Braunschweiger Hütte to the south. Mainzer Höhenweg is the southernmost part of the whole Geigenkamm range traverse route and among the most difficult and exhausting parts of this traverse.

Wassertalkogel is the highest point of Mainzer Höhenweg thus giving this summit an extra importance.

WassertalkogelRheinland-Pfalz - bivvy on top of Wassertalkogel

An extra bonus of this summit is a bivouac hut, called Rheinland-Pfalz-Biwak, located only some meters below the summit and holding 9 bunk beds for an overnight stay. The red bivouac looks more like a lunar module than a mountain bivouac and is a rather strange sight on top of a high mountain.

Mainzer Höhenweg is the only trail leading from north or south to the summit. The west slopes are very steep, there is only an emergency descent route (marked only in descent direction!) starting north of the summit near the col between Wassertalkogel and Sonnenkogel which is not recommended for normal ascent or descent.

The east slopes down to Pollestal valley may be used in winter/spring as a ski tour ascent and descent route. An overnight stay in winter/spring at the bivouac hut is quite popular as the views from the bivouac and the summit are spectacular. Pollestal, though, is a very long valley and the ski ascent from Ötztal via Pollestal a rather strenuous undertaking.

Mainzer Höhenweg has its 40th aniversary in 2014. Wassertalkogel will receive therefore more visits than normal this year.

Getting There

WassertalkogelRüsselsheimer Hütte, the northern trailhead to the summit

Main trailheads are:

  • Braunschweiger Hütte for the approach from the south

  • Rüsselsheimer Hütte for the approach from the north

  • Huben / Ötztal valley for the approach via Pollestal

  • The trailheads for Rüsselsheimer Hütte and Braunschweiger Hütte are Plangeross and Mandarfen / Mittelberg, the last two villages in Pitztal valley.

  • You reach Pitztal by car
    leaving highway A 12, Innsbruck – Landeck at the exit Imst / Pitztal. Follow road number L 16 into Pitztal. The parking area for Rüsselsheimer Hütte is located on the east side of the road before you enter Plangeross. For Braunschweiger Hütte go on to Mandarfen / Mittelberg until you reach the end of the road and the parking area for Braunschweiger Hütte (don´t turn right on the parking area of the Pitztal glacier cableway!).

  • You reach Ötztal by car
    leaving highway A 12, Innsbruck – Landeck at the exit Ötztal. Follow road number B 186 into Ötztal until you reach Huben. Park your car at the southern end of the village.
    For Braunschweiger Hütte follow B 186 to Sölden and turn right on Ötztal glacier road after leaving the main village of the valley. Ascent on that road up to its end and park your car there.

  • An approach by railway and public busses is possible, too, though rather time consuming. The railway station for Pitztal is "Imst - Pitztal, for Ötztal it is "Ötztal - Bahnhof". Take the local busses from the railway stations to yout destination.

    ÖBB schedules
    Local busses schedule

    WassertalkogelAscent to Braunschweiger Hütte
    WassertalkogelÖtztaler Wildspitze at sunrise
    WassertalkogelSummit rest

    Ascents to the huts

  • A steep but good trail leads you directly up from Plangeross to Rüsselsheimer Hütte (2 to 2,5 hours).

  • Rüsselsheimer Hütte can be reached, too, from Hauerseehütte via Luibisjoch and Sandjoch (long and demanding traverse).

  • For Braunschweiger Hütte follow the private road to the Gletscherstüberl Inn (trail number 918 and Eurpean hiking trail number E 5). Go on on this road until the trail to Braunschweiger Hütte branches off to the left.

  • Alternatively use the (nicer) Jägersteig trail branching off to the left behind Gletscherstüberl inn. This trail uses the east slopes of Pitztal valley and joins the above mentioned trail to Braunschweiger Hütte about 400 m below the hut. Follow the united trail up to the huge mountain hut.

  • You reach Braunschweiger Hütte, too, from Taschachhaus via Mittelbergjoch (glacier route) or from Sölden via Ötztaler Gletscherstraße and Rettenbachjoch.

  • Routes Overview

    WassertalkogelSummit view to Ötztal main range

    Ascent from Braunschweiger Hütte

    Follow trail number 918 / E 5 in northern direction (short descent) and ascent along the southeast slopes of Karleskogel to Pitztaler Jöchl west col.
    The former route traversed a secondary summit on its south side in eastern direction to the glacier col of Pitztaler Jöchl. It then traversed the upper part of Polles south glacier to Südliches Pollesjoch, climbed up to the northern summit of Polleskogel and descended the north ridge of Polleskogel to Nördliches Pollesjoch.

    WassertalkogelNew route from Pitztaler Jöchl west via Silbergrube
    WassertalkogelNördliches Pollesjoch with Gschrappkogel and Wassertalkogel
    WassertalkogelTalus ridge to Wassertalkogel

    Due to the glacier retreat this route has become rather chaotic. A new route leaves Pitztaler Jöchl west col (signpost: Mainzer Höhenweg) in northern direction into Silbergrube cirque (steep descent with some iron ropes for additional security), traverses the cirque (some snow fields) and ascends steeply west of Polleskogel up to Nördliches Pollesjoch.

    Peak baggers are now one summit short. If you must you can follow the old route or climb Polleskogel to and fro via the easy north ridge.

    WassertalkogelThe ridge to Gschrappkogel
    WassertalkogelWassertalkogel as seen from Gschrappkogel
    WassertalkogelSummit view of Dolomiten

    Mainzer Höhenweg now follows the broad talus ridge with ups and downs and a bit of talus hopping, passing by Wildes Männle and Wurmsitzkogel – some minor summits of the ridge – and climbs shortly but steep up to Gschrappkogel, another secondary summit of the ridge.

    The traverse from Gschrappkogel to the higher Wassertalkogel is easy and quickly done.

    Ascent from Rüsselsheimer Hütte

    This part of Mainzer Höhenweg is more difficult than the part Braunschweiger Hütte – Wassertalkogel.

    Leave Rüsselsheimer Hütte on trail number 911 in eastern direction. At a trail junction take the right hand route (signpost: Mainzer Höhenweg) and follow this trail first in zigzags then following some moraine crests into Weißmaurach cirque. The route runs along the north side of the cirque to Weißmaurach Joch. Depending on the snow cover this ascent is more (without snow) or less (with snow) strenuous.

    At Weißmaurach Joch take the right hand trail (the left hand trail descends into Polles valley) and ascend exposed, steep and with some scrambling action to the first of several minor ridges running down huge Puitkogel on its eastern side. Descend with the aid of some iron chains, ropes and a ladder exposed rocks to the snow and ice fields of small Nördlicher Puitkogel glacier.

    WassertalkogelScrambling near Nördlicher Puitkogel glacier
    WassertalkogelScrambling near Nördlicher Puitkogel glacier

    Traverse this small glacier and ascend again to a secondary ridge. Another steep rock section, secured with iron chain, leads down to Südlicher Puitkogel glacier, which is a small but heavily crevassed glacier, fed by avalanche snow. This glacier needs crampons and sometimes a rope.

    Traverse the glacier in its upper parts and descend steep rock slabs and scree fields or – better – descend the glacier to its southern end and regain the route, ascending steeply to a third secondary ridge.

    The route now traverses the chaotic cirque of former Sonnenkogel glacier in southern direction. The glacier itself is drowned by scree and talus but there is still ice below the scree and the route “moves” on these ice fields due to the instability of the ground. Marks and signs can vanish and orientation is important.

    WassertalkogelScramble descent to Südlicher Puitkogel glacier
    WassertalkogelSüdlicher Puitkogel glacier
    WassertalkogelBetween Südlicher Puitkogel glacier and Sonnenkogel glacier

    After Sonnenkogel glacier cirque the route climbs up to the ridge between Wassertalkogel and Sonnenkogel. There is often snow covering the marks and the route. You may only find the marks again when arriving at or near the ridge crest.

    WassertalkogelTraversing former Sonnenkogel glacier
    WassertalkogelPuitkogel with Sonnenkogel and Südlicher Puitkogel glacier

    After a short climbing section the ridge gets easier and with some talus and scree hopping you will arrive at the huge cairns of Wassertalkogel summit.

    Red Tape & Accommodation

    WassertalkogelSummit cairns

    Nor restrictions as far as I know

    You find all kinds of accommodation at:

  • Plangeroß; Mandarfen/Mittelberg; Sankt Leonhard im Pitztal

  • Sölden

  • Huben im Ötztal

  • Mountain Huts

  • Rüsselsheimer Hütte (ex Neue Chemnitzer Hütte)

  • Braunschweiger Hütte

  • Rheinland-Pfalz Biwak

  • Gear & Mountain Condition

    WassertalkogelSummit view with mighty Wazespitze

    Wassertalkogel from Braunschweiger Hütte is a hiking tour in alpine terrain with a bit of talus scrambling, steep scree sections, narrow trails and some snow fields – in short: nothing too difficult.

    You need good shoes and alpine mountaineering clothes; hiking poles are recommended.

    Wassertalkogel from Rüsselsheimer Hütte (or the whole Mainzer Höhenweg with Wassertalkogel traverse) is a more serious and long undertaking which needs some experience. You have steep routes (Weißmaurachjoch), icy passages under scree and talus, a small but heavy crevassed glacier and steep and exposed rock sections which are secured with iron chains, ropes, pegs and a ladder.

    For that you need full glacier and ice gear like crampons, ice axe, rope and harness. I walked the glacier without being roped up but this was September with all snow melted away and all crevasses open.

    A ski tour to Wassertalkogel requires full ski tour and avalanche gear.

    Check the Tirol avalanche bulletin here.

    Rheinland Pfalz Biwak should be fully equipped for nine people with bunk beds, blankets some camping stoves (without gas cartridges!) and the necessary tableware. There is no water (only snow). Due to the necessity of snow melting for drinking water you should use the separate toilet hut nearby!

    Current Weather for Sölden valley:

    Current Weather for Sölden mountain:

    Map & Guide Book


    Alpenvereinskarte, scale 1 : 25.000, number 30/5, Ötztaler Alpen, Geigenkamm; edition 2013, UTM grid, trails and ski routes

    Guide Book

    Walter Klier: Alpenvereinsführer Ötztaler Alpen; Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, München, last edition 2005, unfortunately nowadays out of stock



    Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

    GeigenkammMountains & Rocks