Skip to content

Cookies šŸŖ

This site uses cookies that need consent.

Learn more

Zur Powderguide-Startseite Zur Powderguide-Startseite

Language selection

Search PowderGuide

TouringTips

TouringTip | Hochfeiler north face

Challenging tour to the king of the Zillertal Alps

by Alex Schober ā€¢ 11/30/2017
The north face of the "King of the Zillertal Alps", also known as the "Gran Pilastro" in Italian, is a true classic among steep faces. Seen from the Austrian side, this wall, which is up to 55 degrees steep, rises 400 meters into the air. It is usually only climbed, but in good conditions it can also be conquered downhill on skis or snowboard.

This tour is particularly recommended in spring, firstly because it is an extremely steep (ice) wall and secondly because the very long descent can be shortened accordingly depending on the snow conditions.

Ascent

You usually start from the third (with a bit of luck from the fifth) hairpin bend of the Pfitscher Joch pass road. In an easterly direction, the skis are usually shouldered for the time being and, depending on the snow conditions, the skis are then skinned up from Issen-Boden or Griesebenkar. As the route becomes steeper and steeper, you pass the GĆ¼nther Messner bivouac (2430 m) and the foot of the imposing Hochferner north face. After a short flat section, you ascent relatively steeply to the left to the GrieƟscharte (2811 m). From there, either descent briefly or descent to the glacier floor. With a slight gain in altitude, you then climb up to a small notch and reach the rugged Schlegeiskees. From here, you have an unobstructed view of the north face, which is again approached with a slight gain in altitude.

The entrance to the wall is sometimes difficult due to the ever-increasing crevasse. Initially, the steepness is usually only 45 degrees, but then increases relatively quickly to up to 55 degrees and can become a real physical challenge. After successfully exiting the wall, the summit can be reached via an initially wide, later exposed, steep ridge.

TouringTips
presented by

Descent

The very steep descent follows the ascent track through the north face and crosses the Schlegeis glacier with a slight descent towards the GrieƟscharte. You then have to ascent briefly to the GrieƟscharte (watch out for falling rocks!), the rest of the descent is very dependent on the snow conditions. In good conditions, you can follow the ascent trail almost as far as the parking lot. In addition to the actual highlight - the Hochfeiler north face - the rest of the descent is also very rewarding and offers varied terrain.

Descent variation

From the summit, descent into the flat glacier basin between Hochfeiler and Hochferner and follow the valley to a prominent narrowing. At the height of the narrowing, there is a gully on the left-hand side, which has to be climbed for approx. 150m. Keeping slightly to the left, continue downhill to an abandoned mountain pasture and then stay on the ski trail, which will take you to the starting point at the third hairpin bend (Caution! This variation leads to the THIRD hairpin bend!).

Conclusion

For a "PowderGuide TouringTip"-untypical is definitely the long ascent/descent on this tour, and it is by no means a "pleasure descent"! In most guidebooks, the north face is only recommended as an ascent. We would also like to point out that this extreme wall is not to be trifled with and that a fall will have fatal consequences! So don't take it lightly.

Information

Difficulty (5-level scale): *****
Special dangers: Extremely steep north face, danger of crevasses and avalanches. Appropriate knowledge, equipment and conditions absolutely necessary!
Exposure: All exposures
Altitude difference start and finish: 1,720 m (third hairpin bend) | 2,050 m (fifth hairpin bend) | 3,509 m Hochfeiler
Altitude difference uphill and downhill: approx. 1900hm, of which 350-400hm in the north face
Duration: approx. 10 hours
Best time of year: March, April, May, June
How to get there: Over the Brenner Pass to Sterzing, from there into the Pfitschertal valley. Follow the valley to Stein and park your car on the Pfitschjoch road in one of the two hairpin bends.
Other recommendations: To shorten the long ascent, you can also spend a night at the GĆ¼nther Messner bivouac. This has 9 beds - but can be overcrowded during peak times!

Note: The PG touring tips are general descriptions of tours that we like subjectively. Our touring tips DO NOT REFER TO CURRENT CONDITIONS. Read the situation report and the weather forecast and plan your tour accordingly.

Photo gallery

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

Show original (German)

Related articles

Comments

TouringTips
presented by