Silvretta Ski Traverse

Alps: Austria & Switzerland

Six-day ski traverse along the Austrian-Swiss border
Perfect as a first hut-to-hut ski traverse

Silvretta Ski Traverse Highlights

  • Unforgettable scenery along the spine of Austria and Switzerland
  • Relatively short days, with options for more laps or summits!
  • Great skiing with lighter packs
  • Luxurious mountain huts and lodges
  • Excellent Tirolian cuisine
  • Longer, more difficult traverse available for private groups

Most North Americans associate the word “Silvretta” with one of the original, ahead-of-its-time backcountry touring bindings. The inventor, Heinrich Wunder, actually named his bindings after the spectacular Silvretta mountain range; a ski touring paradise that runs along most of the border between Austria and Switzerland. Here is what the Silvretta has going for itself: Lifts out of the Austrian village of Ischgl bring us quickly to the edge of the backcountry. Straightforward travel with light packs takes us up and across passes and to the tops of relatively easy ski mountaineering summits over 3,000 m. Moderate ski descents, normally with great snow, are extra-enjoyable because of the terrific scenery and lastly the backcountry huts are more like luxurious mountain lodges – some of the best in the Alps featuring excellent Austrian cuisine, beer on tap, sunny terraces, showers, comfortable beds, and even a climbing wall and ice tower!

The Silvretta Range has something to suit every skier. The traverse listed as Itinerary 1 in the itinerary tab below (and for which the dates and prices are listed) is perfect for a group with mixed abilities and ambitions. Intermediate-level skiers and those on their first hut-to-hut ski traverse are sure to have a great time. None of the days require a huge effort, but each day can be expanded to add in more skiing if some or all of the group wishes.

We also offer a more difficult itinerary to private groups. This traverse, listed as Itinerary 2 in the itinerary tab below, is for very fit and experienced backcountry skiers. The traverse is longer, covers a greater distance, and includes three more huts and several more peaks. Please inquire with us about pricing if you have a group of three or more.

Silvretta Ski Traverse: Day-to-Day Itinerary

The first itinerary listed below outlines the easier variation of the Silvretta Ski Traverse, and the one for which the prices and dates are listed on this webpage. The second itinerary shows a longer, harder traverse for private groups with a minimum of three very fit and experienced backcountry skiers. 

Itinerary 1:

Day 1: Travel day: Arrive at your airport of choice in the morning. Please see the “Details and Logistics” tab for information on how to get to Galteur (“Galtür” in German) from one of the recommended airports. Meeting with the guide at our hotel in Galtür for dinner at 18:00. Over dinner, we will discuss the itinerary, weather, and mountain conditions, and do a personal equipment check.

Galtür and the close-by ski resort of Ischgl offer fantastic downhill skiing opportunities – consider arriving a day early to get over jet lag, acclimatize, and enjoy a great day of resort skiing.

Please note: For custom groups arriving at the airport in Munich or Innsbruck early on day 1 we can arrange a snow cat ride to the Heidelberger Hut already in the late afternoon and thus getting a kick start into the Silvretta range, which is especially of interest if you need to do a shorter trip duration.

Day 2: 10km bus transfer down the valley to Ischgl, then we use the lift system for the larger part of the morning to reach the Piz Val Gronda (2800 m / 9200ft) which maks the border to Switzerland. Various off-piste runs or ski touring options exist before we ski down to the Heidelberger Hut (2,264 m / 7,500 ft) either at the end of the day or mid day before climbing one of the peaks close to the hut in the afternoon.

Day 3: Day ski tour with light backpacks from the Heidelberger Hut, with the goal of ascending a 3,000 m / 10,000 ft peak in the neighbourhood. Like the Jamtal Hut, the area around the Heidelberger Hut offers enough ski touring and peak ascents to keep us busy for an entire week. Piz Tasna and Heidelberger Spitze are amongst our favorite options for longer days, Piz Calgouns for a shorter afternoon trip for those keen to add on a second objective. Second night at the Heidelberg Hut.

Day 4: Traverse day to the Jamtal Hut (2,165 m / 7,100 ft), with an ascent of Breite Krone (3,097m / 10,150 ft) along the way. (900 m / 3,000 ft elevation gain, 1,000 m / 3,300 ft descent). 

Day 5: Ski touring day around the Jamtal Hut. Many options exist to climb peaks above 3,000 m (10,000 ft) peaks in the area with northern aspect ski runs with the Gemsspitz  (3107 m / 10,191 ft) or the Hintere Jamspitz (3156 m /10,352 ft) being two of our favorites. Second night at the Jamtal Hut.

Day 6: Traverse Day to the Wiesbadner Hut (2440 m / 8000 ft). Commonly we use the traverse via the Vermunt glacier with the option to climb the Dreilaender Spitze (3200 m / 10500 ft) which requires some scrambling along an exposed rocky ridge and is only suitable for more experienced groups. At any rate, the northerly descent down the Vermunt glacier usually offers good powder skiing to the hut.

Please note: For custom trips, we can also descent further past the Wiesbadner Hut to the Bieler Hoehe, a road pass that is closed in winter. The Berghotel Piz Buin offers a remote ambiance with access to excellent day ski touring trips in 3 star hotel setting with a nice spa and excellent food also suitable to spend several days.

Day 7: Return to Galtuer. Many options exist for our last ski touring day: The highest peak of the region, the Piz Buin (3310 m / 10860 ft) requires some technical climbing with a rope belay and typically lower client to guide ratios but even the trip to the Fourcla dal Confin (border to Switzerland) offers an awesome trip with a great northern aspect descent back to the hut. Alternatively, an ascent of the Rauher Kopf (3100 m / 10170) followed by a northern aspect run down to the Bieler Hoehe is a great way to end the trip. From the Bieler Hoehe, we follow the (closed) road back to the town of Galtuer. Most of our guests usually depart that same afternoon towards the airports in Munich or Innsbruck but we gladly book you for more nights in our Hotel in Galtuer.

Itinerary 2:

It is possible to extend the length of the Silvretta Ski Traverse, include more huts, and ascend more peaks. This variation is significantly harder than the trip outlined above and is for very fit, experienced backcountry skiers only. Please inquire with us if you have a group of at least three people who would like to undertake this adventure.

Day 1: Travel day: Arrive at your airport of choice in the morning. Please see the “Details and Logistics” tab for information on how to get to Galteur (“Galtür” in German) from one of the recommended airports. We will meet at the Hotel Bielerhöhe in Galtür for dinner at 18:00. Over dinner, we will discuss the itinerary, weather, and mountain conditions, and do a personal equipment check.

Day 2: Bus transfer to Ischgl, ski lifts to the Pauliner Kopf (2,864 m / 9,400 ft), and ski to the Heidelberg Hut (2,264 m / 7,500 ft). If time allows, we can ascend a peak along the way, or just enjoy turns in the area.

Day 3: Ski tour to the Jamtal Hut (2,165 m / 7,100 ft), with an ascent of Breite Krone (3,097m / 10,150 ft) along the way (900 m / 3,000 ft elevation gain, 1,000 m / 3,300 ft descent).

Day 4: Ski tour to the Wiesbadener Hut (2,443 m / 8,000 ft), including an ascent of the Dreilanderspitze (3,197m / 10,500 ft) along the way (1,000 m / 3,300 ft elevation gain, 700 m / 2,300 ft descent).

Day 5: Ski tour to the Silvretta Hut (2,341 m / 7,700 ft) with an ascent of Piz Buin (3,312 m 10,900 ft) along the way.

Day 6: Ski tour to the Saarbrücker Hut (2,538 m / 8,300 ft) with an ascent of Silvrettahorn (3,244 m / 10,640 ft) along the way.

Day 7: Ski to the valley and return by bus to our hotel in Galtür.

Day 8: Departures, or transfer to one of our other Alps ski traverses!

Details and Logistics

Meeting point

We will meet at our hotel in Galtuer (spelt “Galtür” in German) at 6 p.m. the evening before our tour begins. It is easy to reach Galtür by train and bus from nearby airports. The closest airports are Innsbruck, Austria (1 hour); Munich, Germany (3 hours); Friedrichshafen, Germany (2.5 hours); and Zürich, Switzerland (3-4 hours).

From one of the airports and/or the city’s main train station, take the train to “Landeck-Zams”, Austria. Once in Landeck, get on bus number 260 to Paznaun, directly in front of the train station. The scenic bus ride to Galtür takes about an hour.   

If enough participants arrive at the Munich airport at a similar time, OnTop can arrange a van to pick up and deliver the whole group for an extra fee.

Best season/climate/weather

Early March until mid-April offers the best combination of weather, conditions and snow stability. Temperatures can vary hugely. If winter weather patterns prevail, you can expect temperatures between -5°C and -15°C. Normally in spring, the temperatures range from -10°C overnight to +15°C during the day, especially on sunny days and when descending to the valleys.

The lodging

Galtür is a quaint Austrian village that is located at the beginning and end-point of our ski tour. lodging in double rooms with ensuite bathroom (single rooms avaialable for a supplement) at the three star standard.

The other nights will be spent in luxurious alpine huts – two of the best in the Alps. They offer multi-bed bunk rooms, showers, meals, and apre-ski beverages. One has a climbing wall and ice tower! The huts are heated, and wool blankets or down duvets are provided.  Guests are required to bring a sleeping bag liner.

All of the huts offer a three- to four-course dinner (soup, sometimes salad, meat entrée and dessert), and breakfast (coffee or tea, bread, butter, jam, cheese, sometimes sausage). These meals are included in the price.

Special dietary needs can usually only be accommodated to a limited extent in the huts. Please talk to us if you have concerns.

The water in the huts is drinkable so there is no need to bring a purifier.

Snacks, sandwiches and cakes can be purchased in the huts.

Services included in the total price

Guiding by an internationally (UIAGM/IFMGA) certified, multilingual, mountain guide, all guide expenses, 1 night in double rooms with half board, taxi rides that are part of the itinerary (i.e. getting to the start of the traverse from Galtür).

Not included

Air travel, gondola and ski lift rides, supplements for single rooms, lunches, beverages, rental equipment (if necessary), any additional costs due to itinerary changes.

Silvretta Ski Traverse private group / custom trips pricing:

Why not find some friends and put together your own group? For private groups undertaking Itinerary 1, we can offer the following pricing assuming the same inclusions :

2 participants: 50% premium in addition to our advertised per person price
3 participants: 30% premium in addition to our advertised per person price
4 participants: Our advertised per person price
5 participants: 8% discount of the advertised per person price
6 participants 13% discount
7 participants 16% discount
8 participants 20% discount

Itinerary options:

Additional days:
A great way to acclimatize and to expand your trip by a day or two is to add ski touring days near the starting point of our traverse. Tyrol, Austria offers endless off-piste skiing options. Ask us for a quote for additional days.

Please also see Itinerary 2 under the itinerary tab.

For custom departures, we can extend or shorten the trip. The huts and lodges offer enough ski touring terrain to keep us entertained for plenty of extra days.

While this trip is relatively luxurious as ski traverses go, it can still be physically demanding and it takes us through serious mountain terrain. You must be able to ski safely and in control at all times while wearing a 6-8 kg backpack. Your skiing ability does not need to be technically perfect, but you should be a solid mountain skier with good “survival skiing skills”, and the ability to negotiate adverse snow conditions without falling while still traveling at a decent pace.

You need to be in very good physical and mental condition, ready to be on your feet for about six hours each day, including steep, continuous, uphill climbs of up to 1,000 meters (3,300 ft). Some of the summit ascents require scrambling along exposed ridges, however, you can also choose to wait at the ski depot. The guide will carry a rope for those clients who prefer a belay.

FAQ

Can the Silvretta Ski Traverse be done on a split board?

Some sections of the Silvretta Ski Traverse lend themselves to split boards, but other parts are not split board-friendly. There are some low-angle descents and up-and-down sections that must be done in “walk mode”. Also, in case the party needs to rope up in bad visibility, skiing tends to be easier than boarding thanks to the ability to ‘snow plough’. All in all, the Silvretta Ski Traverse is probably not well-suited to split boards.

Are there extras we can purchase at the huts and will we need cash?

All of the huts provide a three- to four-course dinner (soup, sometimes salad, meat entrée and dessert), and breakfast (coffee, tea, bread, butter, jam, cheese, sometimes also sausage). These meals are included in your trip price.

However, be sure to bring some Euro cash for the extras in the accommodations – they often do not accept credit cards.

Beverages (water, tee, beer) are available for 3-6 €. Wine costs 20-35 € per bottle.

When showers are available, they cost about € 3, or shower + towel is about € 5.

You can purchase lunch-to-go at the huts and in the valley. Snacks, sandwiches, and hot lunchtime meals can also be purchased in the huts for 1o to 20 €.

To be well on the safe side, we suggest bringing about 50 Euros in cash per day.

Can I refill my BCA canister in Europe?

We haven’t seen the BCA system in Tyrol. If the cartridges are different from those of ABS, Mammut, etc., then it might be difficult to find them. You should look for it in bigger cities before arriving for the traverse. Generally, in higher mountain regions in spring, people don’t bring airbags as often.

Feedback (from the Ortler Ski Traverse)


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


“Walter was a very good guide. We felt secure in the mountains with him. He also knows the area a lot. His company was good although he seems to be a little tired after many days in the mountains. We also had a very good time with Kurt. He is a real gentleman! We really liked him! General trip organisation and the communication were perfect. The itinerary was also very good. We decided together to stay 3 nights at Branca Hut for better skiing and it was a good choice. Incredible lodging and food quality. It was one of the highlights of our trip. I will definitely recommend OnTop to my friends. 10/10” Eric B., Quebec, Canada


“Everything went great on the trip save a little bad weather. Walter was great and lodging, etc. exceeded expectations. I would recommend OnTop in the future.” Micah H., USA


“Long story short, we could not have asked for a better guide than Kurt. He was incredibly professional and accommodating of everybody in the group, made us feel safe throughout the expedition, provided consistent, helpful feedback on how we could improve our own techniques and knowledge in the mountains, and was generally just a great guy and fun person to hang out with. We would 100% go on another trip with Kurt (and intend to!), and would highly recommend him to anyone looking to do the Ortler or any other kind of similar trip!

I thought all of the communications and trip information sent out was incredibly helpful and thorough. It’s difficult to know exactly what you’re going to need for a trip like this given the hut conditions and physical requirements on the mountains, and you all definitely helped us navigate these unknowns well. My only suggestion might be to provide one or two quick check-in emails closer to the start of the trip, more to help prevent people from rushing to buy things at the last second than anything else 🙂 Itinerary was perfect in every way (for us at least). I really don’t have anything to add here, great work!

Huts/Lodging: The endless pasta helpings kept us alive and energized on the trip, and the food was great for the trip, not to mention delicious. Lodging conditions were actually better than expected, which was a great surprise as well.

That said, there are a few things I would suggest emphasizing more strongly in the trip details/itinerary that’s sent out in advance of the trip:

1. HIGHLY encourage people to bring earplugs (not just an optional nice to have) — we ended up bunking with some serious snore-ers and the earplugs saved the night for me. A few of my bunk-mates were less lucky and I know this was definitely a point of frustration for them.
2. Make sure people bring extra cash for the huts. Even with buying lunches, showers, and post-trek beers, we cut it a bit too close. Perhaps suggesting 50-70 euros per night per person or something similarly specific.
3. Bring extra ski socks. For our crew at least, this was the larger contributor to the lodging “stink” factor and could have been helped by one or two extra sets per person.

12/10! But seriously, we had THE best time on the trip and haven’t been able to stop bragging about it to our friends and family. Keep up the great work and we can’t wait to embark on another adventure with OnTop (and Kurt)!” Carl T., CA, USA


“Kurt was fantastic. Literally could not have asked for better. His knowledge and respect of the mountain were encouraging. He not only inspired confidence in us, he took ample time throughout the trip to share his knowledge from improving skinning/kickturns to highly technical rescue techniques. He was positive and encouraging while pushing us the exact right amount so that we got the most out of our trip.

Organization was great. The one thing that might have been helpful, is doing some sort of video/virtual gear check before the trip. Everything worked out fine but I did do some scrambling last minute to make sure I had the right gear. Doing a gear check a month out or a few weeks out would allow ample time to replace anything that was insufficient for the trip. Due to uncertainty, I definitely brought wayyyyy to much stuff. Help paring that down in advance of the trans-Atlantic trip would be helpful.

Itinerary was fantastic. Loved the starting point and welcome dinner. The first and last days were by far the easiest which was great. Having the hardest days as the 2nd and 2nd to last was perfect. Each of the huts we stayed at were great, well located.  The lodging and food were fantastic. We didn’t eat a bad meal.  Definitely a 10! …especially if I get some sort of referral discount 🙂 haha ” Simon W., CA, USA


“Walter was excellent, the best guide I have had. Very informative and tolerant in every way. Food and lodging was for the most part good. You guys were great as far as trip organization/communication goes. Itinerary was good which we had to change due to weather conditions 10/10.”
Richard K., CA, USA


“Very good performance by Walter, a positive energy and great guiding! Lodging was top quality except the one highest in the Ortler System. Communication/trip organisation was very good. 10/10 ”
Timo P., Sweden


“In summary, I was really happy with every aspect of the trip that OnTop were responsible for. The administrative support from you two, and Jorg at times, was super – quick, helpful, accurate – from beginning to end. When we had questions about travel planning you went out of your way to get answers and make suggestions.

Once we arrived in the Ortler area, everything worked great – Walter met us as planned. As you know the big wrinkle was the skis not showing up for 4 of our party and boots not showing up for 2 (you might suggest to future parties that they not put their boots in their ski bag). Walter was super-flexible (it probably drove him crazy) and went out of his way to work around this problem, he got on the phone and found skis and boots that worked as well as could be expected, and was creative in thinking up itineraries that gave us flexibility in case the gear showed up after we started. As a guide he is very competent in a quiet but appropriately-present and directive way. He was clear about safety concerns and about the implications of decisions and explained his thinking well. He made sure we were travelling at the right times and places given snow conditions. All in all we were really happy with him.

The lodging was super – as you know better than we’re used to in the mountains. Traube Hotel in Stills seemed to work fine, it was very quiet when we were there so we had good service, and the drive up to Sulden is short.
I’d give the experience and OnTop support – ski issues aside – a 10/10 and would unreservedly recommend the trip and you to friends.”
David T., BC, Canada


“Enjoyed the trip very much. Walter did a good job, given the fact that we were 4 individuals with different personalities / expectations. I would use OnTop again.”
Richard D., London, UK


“Outstanding. We really enjoyed Walter’s guiding style and his ability to quickly assess our group and adjust the touring appropriately. The trip was very well organized and everything went as planned.  A great tour and well designed itinerary. We appreciated the Hotel Cevedale and the ability to ski to the hotel. Plenty of food and comfortable huts. 10/10!! We hope to be back again soon.” Stefan S., USA


“Martino was excellent. Knowledgeable, professional. Went above and beyond both on and outside the trip.  A little more direction about how to get to Solda in terms of options may have been helpful but we appreciate the communication. 9/10 – Thanks guys. We had fun!!” Matt P., Canada



Silvretta Ski Traverse Gear List as Downloadable .PDF


Technical Equipment

 Alpine touring skis for spring ski touring, no wider than 100 mm underfoot
 Alpine touring boots, compatible with touring binding
Ski crampons compatible with your skis and bindings
 Adjustable ski poles
 
Climbing skins, well glued and precisely fitted to your skis (leaving the edges free once applied to ski base)
 Modern, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver
 
Lightweight, metal snow shovel
Avalanche probe (two to three meters long)
Backpack (40 – 50 liters) with outside straps to attach skis and crampons
Climbing harness for glacier travel
One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
Crevasse rescue equipment, if you are familiar with it. (Prusik cords, webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide will bring a full set.
 General repair kit and Leatherman (can be shared between several people)
 Spare parts specific to your equipment
Ski helmet (optional)

Clothing

We suggest using the layering system: Bring light, technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly when sweaty or wet. Layers can be added and taken off quickly when 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 (eg. lined Schoeller fabric)
 Thick fleece or wool pullover, or PrimaLoft jacket
Medium weight fleece shirt
Capilene, fleece or wool underwear, top and bottoms
 Two or three pairs of gloves (lightweight and heavier weight)
Scarf or neck gaiter
 Socks (synthetic or wool, thick outer and thin liners)
Wool or fleece hat, covering the ears
 Gaiters that fit over your ski boot (unless pants seal tightly to your boots)
Sun hat, preferably with wide rim
Bandana (optional)

Around the huts and guesthouses

Spare underwear and socks 
Toiletries (minimum supply with small containers for soap and shampoo)
Small, lightweight travel towel
Down vest or light insulated jacket (optional)
Lightweight sleeping bag liner (preferably silk). Wool covers or duvets are provided in the huts
Alpine Club card
Ear plugs (recommended)

Other items

Sunglasses with high UV protection. Nose cover optional. Extra pair of glasses in the group is a good idea
 Goggles with high UV protection
Sunscreen and lip protection with high SPF
 One-litre water bottle with an insulator. Water bladders not recommended
 Small thermos (optional)
Headlamp with spare battery
Rain cover specific to your pack, or large plastic bag
 Light stuff sacs or Ziploc bags to keep your backpack organized and important items dry (recommended)
Snacks (nutrition bars, dried fruit and nuts, etc.) Lunch food can be purchased in the huts and guesthouses
 Personal first aid kit and other needs (eg. blister kit, prescription medicine, anti-inflammatory, contact lenses, prescription glasses, etc.)
Pocket knife (optional)
Passport
Health and travel insurance documents
Camera, spare batteries (optional)
Compass, maps and GPS (optional)
Ski wax / skin wax
Hand sanitizer or sanitary hand wipes 

DIFFICULTY
  • Up to 6 hours per day on the skis (more if desired)
  • Intermediate skiing ability and good level of fitness required
2019 DATES

7 nights, 6 days of touring, Sunday-Sunday

Dec. 23 – 30, 2018
Dec. 30 – Jan. 6, 2019
Jan. 6 – 13
Jan. 13 – 20
Jan. 20 – 27
Jan. 27 – Feb. 3
Feb. 3 – 10
Feb. 10 – 17
Feb. 17 – 24
Feb. 24 – Mar. 3
Mar. 3 – 1
Mar. 10 – 17
Mar. 17 – 24
Mar. 24 – 31
Mar. 31 – Apr. 7
Apr. 7 – 14
Apr. 14 – 21
Apr. 21 – 28

Custom trips any time, duration and itinerary!

PRICES

US $1,790
CA $2,490
€ 1,590
£ 1,490

Included: Guiding by an internationally (UIAGM/IFMGA) certified, multilingual, mountain guide, all guide expenses, 1 x hotel double room with breakfast and dinner, 5 nights with half board, taxi/bus rides that are part of the itinerary.

Not included: Air travel, gondola and ski lift rides, supplements for single rooms, lunches, beverages, rental equipment (if necessary), any additional costs due to itinerary changes.