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 Hotel in the quaint mountain village of Vent at the very end of the Oetztal (=Oetz Valley), about 2 hrs drive from Innsbruck, 3.5 hrs from Munich. On request, we can arrange for pick-up / drop off at either Munich or Innsbruck Airports or various train stations in the region. We also gladly assist you in helping with public transportation logistics as Vent can be reached by train and scheduled bus combinations.

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. Vent is a very quaint little village 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.

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 

How to get there

Vent is located 270 km (3.15 hrs) from Munich and 100 km from Innsbruck via Inntal Highway.

When arriving at Munich International Airport there are hourly shuttle connections to Innsbruck. Aternatively, you can take a train to the Innsbruck Main Station from where you can connect about hourly to the town of Oetz. Buses usually already wait in front of the train station to take you up the Oetz Valley to the village of Zwieselstein (Takes about 45 minutes from Oetz). A smaller bus connects in about 20 minutes to Vent, where it stops right on front of our Hotel.

We gladly assist you with logistical support, such as working out bus and train schedules or private drivers. On a custom basis, we also offer group transport services in a 9 seater van.

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.