Oetztaler Alps Ski Traverse

Tirolian Alps / Austria

6 Days Backcountry Ski Traverse Hut to Hut along the Glaciated Divide of the Austrian Alps with Peak Ascents

Oetztaler Alps Ski Traverse Highlights

  • THE classic ski traverse in Austria
  • Luxurious Mountain Huts / Lodges
  • Warm Showers in all Huts
  • Ascent of 5 glaciated peaks en route
  • Breathtaking scenery / big glaciers
  • Add a day of resort skiing in Soelden
  • Only 2.5 hrs from Munich airport

The Oetztal Ski Traverse is certainly one of Austria’s ski touring classics. Access is easy as both start and ending point is from quaint village of Vent at the very end of the Oetztal (tal = valley) on the Austrian side of the Alps divide.

In a half-circle, we will traverse hut to hut along the glaciated divide of the Eastern Alps between Italy and Austria. Along the way, there will be the opportunity to climb 5 of the highest Peaks in Austria, including the Weisskugel (technically in Italy), the Similaun and the Wildspitze, Austria’s second highest peak!

What puts this trip ahead of many ski traverses, especially those in the Western Alps is the high standard of the huts. While located well above tree line next to the glaciers, the huts always offer excellent food, beer on tab and often double or 4 bed rooms with duvets and showers / toilets in the hall way. No need to rough it!

Of course the landscape is breathtaking and the descents are long. All skiing is above tree line and often on glaciers. Most runs are northerly aspects which preserves powder well into the spring.

Itinerary Oetztal Ski Traverse aka Vent Loop (German” Venter Runde”)

Day 1:
Arrive at our  preferred Hotel in the quaint mountain village of Vent at the very end of the Oetztal (=Oetz Valley).

Meet your guide at 6PM for a trip and conditions briefing as well as an equipment check followed by dinner together.

Day 2:
Climb to the ‘Martin Busch Hut (2.500m). In the afternoon, we usually venture towards the Saykogel Peak for some turns with a light pack. Lodging at the Martin Busch Hut.
3 hrs to the hut, 670 m (2,200 ft) vertical climb and 8 km (5 mi) horizontal distance.

Day 3:
Easy climb via the ‘Niederjochferner’ Glacier to the Similaun Hut (3020m, technically located in Italy’s South Tirol Province with German speaking hut keepers) for lunch and deposit of our overnight gear. Afterwards, we we climb to the summit of the Similaun (3700 m), the last 100 meters without skis. Beautiful descent back down to the hut.
6 hours, 1.100 m (3,600 ft) vertical climb, , 600 m (2,000 ft) descent.

Strong groups can also opt to descend the steeper northern aspect branch of the Niederjochferner Glacier when descending from the Similaun, which comes with an additional 200 meters of descent and ascent today but rewards with steeper terrain and often better snow.

Day 4:
A bit of a shorter day today. Climb to the Hauslabjoch (3280 m) and on to the Fineilspitze (3600 m). The last 30 minutes involve an easy scramble along an exciting ridge. Long descent to the Rofen Ache (creek) and a 30 minute climb will take us to the beautiful Hochjoch Hospitz (2410 m), a hut with lots of history and ambiance, where we will spend two nights.
6 hours, ascent 750 m (2,460 ft), descent 1000 m (3,280 ft).

Day 5:
With light day packs we will head to the Langtauferer Spitze Peak (3500 m, 11,500 ft) via the Hintereisferner Glacier. The peak ascent involves a short bit of scrambling to the summit and rewards with a steep north-easterly ski descent back down to the glacier and eventually to the Hochjoch Hospiz Hut.
6 hrs round trip, 1200 m (4,000ft) vertical and 11 km (7 mi) distance one way.

Very fit groups can try to climb the Weisskugel Peak (3740 m , 12,270 feet), the highest of the Oetztal range and located on the Italian side of the divide via the Hintereisjochpass (3470 m = 11,388 feet). The summit ridge of the Weisskugel is very exposed and narrow and usually requires crampons. Descent along the same route for another night in the Hochjoch Hospiz: 8 – 10 hrs round trip, 1330 m (4,360 ft) vertical and 15 km (9.4 mi) distance one way.

Day 6:
Via the Kesselwandferner (glacier) to the Oberes Guslar Joch (where we can cache our backpacks) and on to the , to ski up the last snow slope leading to the Fluchtkogel (3500 m = 11,480 feet) Great run on a northen aspect down the Guslar Glacier to the Vernaght Hut (2755 m = 9,040 feet) for lodging.
7 hours, 1090 m (3575 ft) vertical climb, 750 m (2450 feet) descent.

Day 7:
We finish the traverse with a highlight in every concern: An ascent of Tirol’s highest peakl, the ‘Wildspitze (3.770 m, 12365 ft) Once again, the last few meters we have to negotiate on crampons. A beautiful run takes us down from the summit back to the village of Vent, where we should arrive mid-afternoon. Overnight stay in Vent at our preferred hotel. You will be tired!
8 hours, 900 m (2,950 ft) climb, 1.300 m (4,260 ft) descent.

Day 7:
Departure from the hotel after breakfast.

Detail and Logistics

Meeting Point

Midday at our preferred Hotel in Vent on the first day of each departure.

Climate/Weather

February – Mid May, with March and April being the most popular time.
Temperatures can vary hugely: If wintery weather patterns prevail, you can expect temps between -5 C and -22 C. In spring the temperature spread increases from -10 C overnight to +15 C, especially on sunny days and when descending to the valleys.

Services Included in the Total Price

Guiding by an internationally (UIAGM/IFMGA) certified, multilingual, mountain guide or guide aspirant under supervision, 1 night hotel in Vent *** level in double room with excellent 4 course dinner and excellent breakfast, 5 nights in huts / mountain lodges in multi-bed rooms with half board, Use of technical equipment: Harnesses, crampons, rope, carabiners, all trip organization and assistance with your pre-and post trip arrangements.

Not Included (but can be quoted separately)

Air line tickets, lunches, beverages (except for breakfast), transport from and to the trailhead in Vent / Austria, any hotel lodging in the valley (village of Vent), use of avalanche safety equipment (shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver).

Strenuous backcountry ski tour in alpine, often glaciated terrain on alpine touring (randonnée) or sturdy telemark equipment. You must be able to ski safely and controlled at all times while wearing a mid-weight backpack (7-10 kg /15 lb-22 lb). In other words, you don’t have to be an excellent skier but rather a solid mountain skier with good “survival skiing skills” to where you are able to negotiate even adverse snow conditions without falling while still raveling at a decent pace. You need to be in very good physical and mental condition, ready to be on your feet for about 8 hrs daily including, steep, continuous uphill climbs of up to 1200 meters (4100 ft) on some of the days. Some of the peak ascents require scrambling along exposed ridges on crampons, however the more challenging peak ascents can also be “waited out at the ski depot” and the guide will carry a rope for those clients who prefer a belay. There is the option for a midweek rest day as we will be staying two nights in the same hut. We do not recommend this trip for backcountry ski touring beginners!

FAQ

Equipment Rental

Some of our clients had good experiences renting at one of the larger sport shops in Soelden at a pretty good rate – they have an online portal, however it’s in German once you get past the entrance page but you can also send them an e-mail. http://www.glanzer.at/en
We also have a contact for a fellow guide in Vent (5 mins from the hotel) who has a selection of ski’s available to rent mostly skinny, carving skis that had maybe 70cm under foot. Please contact us directly if you require his contact details.

Gear List

1. Technical Equipment: 

  • Alpine touring skis, for spring ski touring no wider than 100mm underfoot
  • Alpine touring boots, compatible with touring binding.
  • Adjustable ski poles 
  • Climbing skins, well glued and precisely fitted to your skis (leaving the edges free once applied to ski base). 
  • Digital avalanche transceiver  
  • Lightweight, metal snow shovel 
  • Avalanche probe 
  • Backpack, medium sized (about 40 – 50 liters = 180 – 210 square inches) with outside straps to attach skis and crampons 
  • Climbing harness (preferably without padding) for glacier travel 
  • Ski crampons compatible with your skis and bindings 
  • Boot Crampons, lightweight if possible, compatible with your ski boot 
  • One triple action locking or two conventional locking carabiners 
  • Crevasse rescue equipment, if you are familiar with it. (Prusik slings, webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide will bring a full set. 
  • Repair kit / spare parts  for your bindings (optional) Ski touring or skiing helmet (optional)

2. Clothing

We suggest using the ‘layer system’: Light technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly if sweaty or wet. Layers can be put on and taken off fast if weather conditions change during the day.  

  • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar) 
  • Wind and waterproof over pants (Gore Tex or similar) 
  • Warm pants (insulated / fleece/ polypro) 
  • Fleece or wool pullover or jacket 
  • Medium weight fleece shirt 
  • Capilene, fleece or wool underwear, top and bottoms 
  • 2 Pairs of gloves (lightweight and heavier weight) 
  • Scarf or neck gaiter 
  • Socks: thick (wool) outer and thinner liners 
  • Wool or fleece hat, covering the ears 
  • Gaiters (unless pants lock tightly to your boots or ski pants have integrated gaiters) 
  • Sun hat, preferably with wide rim 
  • Bandana (optional)

3. Hut lodging:

  •  Spare underwear, socks  
  • Toiletries (minimum supply with small containers for soap and shampoo) 
  • Very small towel 
  • Down vest or light insulated jacket (optional) 
  • Light stuff sacs or zip lock bags to keep your backpack organized (optional) 
  • Light-weight sleeping bag liner (preferably silk) – wool covers or duvets are provided by the hut 
  • Light hut slippers (optional). Some huts provide them, others don’t.  
  • Alpine Club card, if you are a member  
  • Ear plugs (optional but can be very useful)

4. Other items

  •  Sun Glasses (with very good UV protection, extra pair is a good idea, nose protection for spring ski touring useful) 
  • Sun screen and lip protection
  • Goggles 
  • Thermos bottle (ideally 0.7 liters) and / or water bottle 
  • Head lamp with spare battery and bulb 
  • Blister kit (optional) 
  • Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc. – chocolates and candy bars can also be purchased in the huts) 
  • Personal items (Prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses etc.) 
  • Pocket knife or Leatherman tool 
  • Passport 
  • (Health/Travel) insurance documents 
  • Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended) 
  • Camera, batteries (optional) 
  • Compass, maps and GPS (optional) 
  • Ski wax / skin wax 
  • Hand Sanitizer or Sanitary hand wipes 

Transport Options

Our Oetztaler Ski Traverse begins from the little quaint village of Vent, at the very end of the Oetztal (=Oetz Valley) and one the highest permanently settled places in the Alps at 1900 meters above sea level. Vent is located 270 km (3.15 hrs) from Munich and 100 km (2 hr drive) from Innsbruck via Inntal Highway.


Public Transport
1. Train to Ötztal Bahnhof

If you are arriving into Munich International Airport you can train to Ötztal Bahnhof (Vorplatz), Österreich when travelling by Deutsche Bahn (DB) trains.

From Innsbruck Airport you can travel by train to Ötztal Bahnhof with OEBB train services.

From Zurich Airport you can travel by train with SBB train services to Ötztal, Bahnhof (Vorplatz)

2. Bus from Ötztal Bahnhof to Vent (via Sölden)
From Ötztal Bahnhof you can catch bus route 4194 which are already waiting in front of the train station to take you to the Oetz Valley to the village of Sölden (Takes about 45 minutes from Ötztal).  Then a smaller bus route 8400 connects to Vent, where it stops right on front of our preferred Hotel – bus stop is called Vent Hotel Post.
For Timetables & bus schedules click here


On a custom basis, we also offer group transport services in a 9 seater van.


References of prior guests: We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants of each trip in order for interested guests to get personalized references and their questions answered from a more objective point of view than what our office could provide.


Guide: Walter was very good. He kept us well informed, managed our time well (ie getting up early!), and posed some interesting alternatives for a couple of the days. He was a lot of fun, and helpful. The only criticism from Lawrence and I is that most of the days he let the group get spread out too much. This was mainly because he was ahead, and going faster than some at the back could manage. Perhaps there was a message that we have to move quickly, but that could have been accomplished in other ways. And, it wouldn’t have made any difference, because the person who was often at the back was going as quickly as she could. I am going to make a guess at how far we were spread at times, because I know that my comment is vague… I am guessing between 250m and 500m. I haven’t done a lot of guided trips, but this seemed like a lot to me. When I ski with friends we are almost always within close talking distance… less than 100m.
Itinerary: Excellent. I would recommend this trip to any of my friends. Spectacular route, great huts, reasonable length days, interesting options for additional runs. It was really nice to spend 2 nights at one place. It gave the keeners a chance to do something interesting with lighter pack, and others a chance to have a more mellow day.
Lodging/Food quantity and quality: Very good. There was one night when 5 of us were crammed into a very small room, but the rest of the situations were great. Food was good and ample!! Loved staying at the Wildspitze in Vent! A minor curiosity/frustration, was the lack of hand soap at any of the huts. Many had wonderful new washroom facilities that were very clean, but no soap! I believe that a good way of reducing the likelihood of getting sick in a group situation like a hut is hand washing. Of course there is nothing you (ie OnTop) can do about that. 10/10 “ Carol E., Canada


Guide: Very good, Walter’s guiding style was a bit different to what I am used to in Canada but it was appropriate for the terrain and conditions, mostly he had a very relaxed approach but he was firm when he needed to be. Suitably informative
Itinerary: Perfect, for my first (summer mountaineering) to the Alps in 1982 I was based in Vent, on this trip I was keen to revisit some of the places and peaks I had been to then. The itinerary was perfect for that.
Lodging: Excellent, really liked the Wildspitz, I would have liked to have stayed longer, huts were quite a step up from those I have previously stayed in Switzerland and France. Food quality was superb. Quantity was often on the large side for me.  8/10″ Ron C., Canada


Guide: As you might remember, I requested Jim to be our guide. I have skied with Jim all over the world and know his guiding style. Given that Jim is not a local guide, he did well, consulting with other guides for their insights on local issues. We summited 2 major peaks and bypassed two major peaks due to weather. The four clients moved at different speeds and had different comfort levels in challenging show and weather conditions.
The weather was quite variable so it was difficult to make a judgment on some planned routes, especially the “Wildspitz” day. Jim did his best to find a consensus that met the goals of the four individuals but respected safety as the #1 criterion.
Itinerary: Great/classic itinerary.
Lodging/Food quantity and quality: The huts were some of the best that I have experienced. I was particularly impressed by the modernized toilets and hot showers.
Food quantity and quality was excellent. The Pirpamer family is very kind.
10/10″ Brian L., Canada


GROUP SIZES
Client / Guides

3 – 7 Clients / Guide

TRIP INFO LINKS
DIFFICULTY
  • Stamina required
  • Up to 9 hrs/day
  • Mid-size backpacks
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Peak Ascents on Crampons
2019 DATES

5 Nights, 6 Days of Touring: Sunday-Saturday

Mar. 17 – 23
Mar. 24 – 30
Mar. 31 – Apr 6
Apr. 7 – 13
Apr. 14 – 20
Apr. 21 – 27
Apr. 28 – May 4

Custom trips any time, duration and itinerary!

PRICES

US $1590
CA $2000
€ 1290
£ 1220

Includes: Guide+guide expenses, 5 nights huts + 1 night hotel *** with breakfast and dinner, use of technical equipment (harness, rope, crampons).

Extras: Transport, lunches, beverages, hotel lodging pre-trip, use of avalanche safety equipment.