Editor’s Pick: The Home Mountains of the Tirol Blog Authors

03.09.2019JannisJannis
Stunning views from the top of Nockspitze Spire. Photo by Anja Schauz.

The world’s sky-scraping mountains lure hikers anxious for that bragging rights for summiting their heights. However, we think that one of Tirol’s biggest claims to fame is its awe-inspiring mountains, too. Some of these peaks are famous, while others are not as well known. Here we have rounded up (in no particular order) 13 of our local favorites – those mountains that make us remember just how lucky we are to live here. It’s simple; our home mountains are our home.

Vordere Brandjochspitze (2,559m) – Climbing High Above the Rooftops of Innsbruck

When I moved to Tirol’s capital Innsbruck, my first flat was located on Brandjochstraße Street. The first summit I nabbed with Innsbruck as my base? Vordere Brandjochspitze, of course! Here’s a quick resumé of  my route from street to summit: Across the most beautiful alleys and lanes of Hötting – quick stop at a pilgrimage church where a desperate University student is said to have prayed for divine help with great urgency – past the most stylish Alpine pasture hut on the slope of Nordkette Mountain Range – enjoying a second breakfast on the Alpine pasture hut that possesses the most stunning setting on the slope of Nordkette Mountain Range – where I leave my mountain bike behind – an encounter with Scottish Highland cows – sending my greetings to “Frau Hitt” Pinnacle, the stony landmark of Innsbruck from the saddle of the same name – making my way up the cliffs along Julius-Pock Trail, assisted by a fixed anchoring system of cables – watching down on the rooftops of Innsbruck from the rugged and jagged spires of the South Ridge – watching down on starting and landing airplanes – catching my breath not from climbing, but from watching a continuous reel of premiere showings starring urban Inntal Valley on one side and the pristine wilderness of Karwendel Nature Park on the other – an encounter with elegant ibexes in their natural habitat, wild and rugged terrain – another close-up of Frau Hitt – a hard decision between the best chocolate cake and the best cream cheese strudel near and far – having a hemp-poppy-seed cake for dessert – taking a long sunbathe – an even longer, thrilling and flowing downhill ride right to my door – looking back up to the summit in awe. And although I don’t live on Brandjochstraße Street anymore, Brandjochspitze Spire will remain my best-loved home mountain in Innsbruck, as it makes for a very satisfying climb year after year. – Jannis Braun

• Trailhead: Planötzenhof (elev. 748m)
• Duration: 5 hours (2 hours to Höttinger Alm, elev. 1,487m, by mountain bike, followed by a 3-hour climb to the summit)
• Difficulty: Difficult, mountain footpath (black); requires stamina, endurance, sure footing and should not be attempted by those with a fear of heights
• Alternative Routes: Take Nordkettenbahnen Gondolas for a convenient ride up to Seegrube and follow the traverse to Frau-Hitt-Sattel Saddle
• Trailside Eateries: Höttinger Alm and Umbrüggler Alm

High above the rooftops of Innsbruck. Photo Credit: Jannis Braun

Gilfert (2,506m) – The Gentle Summit in the Tux Alps

Fortunately, the 2,506-meter summit of Gilfert and I have become friends again after some quite frustrating times. There were years when I was more or less forced to climb it, which threatened our relationship significantly. Too long, too hot, too boring – a common and important experience when it comes to climbing mountains at an early age. Today, I can admire the Gilfert from my home’s balcony and I bag it as often as I can. It’s especially worth doing the hike in the fall to experience Gilfert Mountain in these different hues. It’s a good choice for solitude in November, and sometimes even in early December, before the first snow falls. This is the best time for enjoying grand views over Innsbruck and the Zillertal Alps from this lonely peak. What I like most about summiting Gilfert: Though going steadily uphill, the grade from Hausstatt to its top is gentle. As you rack up the elevation at a comfortable rate, it feels nearly half as much. – Eckard Speckbacher

• Trailhead: Weerberg, Hausstatt
• Duration: Ascent via Lafasteralm, descent via Nonsalm, 5 hours (about 1,250 meters of elevation gain)
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red)
• Alternative Routes: From Weerberg Innerst or from Pillberg (across Loassattel Saddle)
• Trailside Eateries: Gasthof Loas Inn (with Pillberg as trailhead); there are no on-mountain eateries if you start in Weerberg

The view from the top of Gilfert. Photo Credit: Eckard Speckbacher.

Seblaskreuz (2,535m) – Cheese Dumplings as Reward

The summit of Seblaskreuz is a super-approachable locals’ favorite mountain and an exceptional viewpoint for learning the layout of the surrounding Stubai Alps. From its top, you can take in the views in every direction. Weather permitting, a wide swath of summits will be visible from Elfer and Habicht to Brennerspitz.  If you begin your hike at an early hour, you can expect to have very few encounters on this trail and you may even find solitude atop its summit. The ascent is shady and provides respite from the heat of summer. The route climbs up the forested, shady footpath or the dirt road to Brandstattalm Alpine Pasture Hut. From there, the trail emerges onto wide open Alpine pastures and meadows on a good grade until you reach the cross on the summit of Seblaskreuz. – Corinna Lanthaler

• Trailhead: “Josef” car park in Oberbergtal Valley / Neustift im Stubaital at an elevation of 1,400 meters
• Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours, approx. 1000 meters of elevation gain
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red)
• Alternative Routes: You can ride up to Brandstattalm by mountain bike
• Trailside Eateries: Quaint Brandstattalm serves wonderful cheese dumplings that deliver much reward for the effort

En route to the summit of Seblaskreuz. Photo Credit: Corinna Lanthaler

Gratlspitz (1,893m) – Tirol’s Most Beautiful Bench?

This striking peak towers above Alpbachtal Valley, Wildschönau and the Brixlegg hamlet of Zimmermoos and is one of my home mountains – it’s a breathtaking vantage point, very approachable and it can be as long as you like. When it comes to a great bike and hike tour or if you want to get your after-work fix with a sunset trek, Gratlspitz Peak can’t be beat. And views! Savour one of the finest vantages for admiring the towering Hohe Tauern Range with Großglockner, Austria’s tallest mountain. And if you can ever move your eyes away from this mesmerizing mountain, a multitude of others demand your attention as well, from the Kitzbühel Alps over the Brandenberg Alps and Rofan Range to the Zillertal Alps. If that’s not enough to slack your jaw, descend to Holzalm Alpine Pasture Hut for one of their famed schnitzels, which will most certainly captivate you. – Michael Walzer

• Trailhead: Car park at Holzalm Alpine Pasture Hut (elev. 1,400m)
• Duration: 2-hour climb from Holzalm
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red)
• Alternative Routes: A magnificent loop tour of Gratlspitz Peak has its trailhead in Alpbach (6.5 hours). A wonderful Bike & Hike Tour departs from Alpbach or Brixlegg.
• Trailside Eateries: Holzalm, Kuhstallalm

Could this be the most beautiful bench of Tirol? It’s located at the summit of Gratlspitz. Photo Credit: Michael Walzer

Vorderes Sonnwendjoch (2,224m) – The Best Views You Can Get in Rofan Range

Watching out of the kitchen window, childhood memories recall my first “real” mountain climb. Jutting 2,224 meters into the air above the forested slopes of the surrounding hillsides, Vorderes Sonnwendjoch Peak’s summit offers enterprising hikers some of the best views you can get in Rofan Range. Located at the spot where Inntal, Alpbachtal and Zillertal Valleys meet, the views from the top of that airy summit are spectacular. When it comes to distance and elevation gain, the trail provides hikers with a very good workout and is not very family-friendly anymore. Until a few years ago, the hill was home to a tiny ski area. Today summer visitors who reach the top on foot, instead of by chair lift, pass by sparkling Zireinersee Lake, Sagzahn Via Ferrata and spectacular rock faces as the payoff for that work. To shorten the climb, you can ride your mountain bike (or e-bike) to Bayreuther Hut. – Klaus Brunner

• Trailhead: Car park at the base of the chair lift in Kramsach
• Duration: 11 hours (Bayreuther Hut – Rofanspitze Spire – Sagzahn – Sonnwendjoch – Bayreuther Hut)
• Difficulty: Moderate, you’ll need good endurance; be aware that some sections along Schafsteig Trail and Sagzahn are rated black, cables aid in moving up
• Alternative Routes: Ascent from Münster or Brandenberg; from Erfurter Hut (assisted by Rofanseilbahn Gondola)
• Trailside Eateries: Bayreuther Hütte, Erfurter Hütte

Bayreuther Hut. Photo Credit: Tirol Werbung/Jens Schwarz.

Großer Solstein (2,541m) – Where Big Means Smaller

Why is the smaller mountain called “Big Solstein” (Großer Solstein) and its 100-meter higher brother “Little Solstein” (Kleiner Solstein)? The answer is the following: In the past, the importance of the smaller mountain was greater as it was used to raise cattle on its meadows. The “Big Solstein”, the mountain in the backyard of Zirl, is my tour of choice. It is much easier to climb than its taller ‘brother’ and that is why many choose it as their first to conquer. “Little Solstein”, on the other hand, has scramble sections with some exposed areas and requires stamina and sure footing. Solsteinhaus Lodge, an Alpinist Association refuge, is located at about halfway of the route and boasts modern creature comforts. You can look forward to delicious and hearty local specialties and even a bed if you want to spend the night. The view from the top of Großer Solstein is breathtaking and is so worth every effort. – Christina Schwemberger

• Trailhead: Hochzirl Hospital (easily accessible from the Hochzirl Railroad Station). The route winds past Thomasegg and Solnalm Alpine Pasture Hut (not open to the public) to Solsteinhaus Lodge, from where you attain the summit of this amazing peak.
• Duration: About 2.5 hours ascent to Solsteinhaus Lodge, followed by another 2-hour climb to the summit (1,750 meters of elevation gain)
• Difficulty: Easy; it is possible to press on to the summit of “Little Solstein” (Kleiner Solstein), where even more stunning views over Inntal Valley await you. This adds another hour of climbing, requires sure footing and should not be attempted by those with a fear of heights.
• Alternative Routes: Via Magdeburger Hut
• Trailside Eateries: Solsteinhaus Lodge

Solsteinhaus Lodge is the place to gather new strength over hearty local specialties. Photo Credit: Tirol Werbung/Katleen Johne.

Gehrenspitze (2,367m) – Between Lush Alpine Pastures and Sheer Rock Walls

Shortly before reaching the cross atop the summit, I catch my breath and scan the horizon. Deep down in Leutasch Valley I can identify my home, the house I grew up in. It is located in a tiny hamlet with a parish church at its heart and surrounded by farms and fields. I still remember how proud I was when I made my first entry into the summit book many, many years ago. Unmistakably, Gehrenspitze is my home mountain! Lucky me! After all, this 2,367-meter tall summit is full of the best things the Wetterstein Range has to offer. A locals’ favorite, this super-approachable mountain is well-loved by visitors and day hikers too. My preferred route climbs through the wide open, gentle Alpine pastures of Puittal, where scattered sheep graze. Please allow three and a half hours for this route to complete. On your way back, you can traipse through miles of stunning scenery all the way to Wangalm and Wetterstein Hut, where you can refuel over hearty delicacies that taste just right after having mastered 1,200 vertical meters. Describing this trek in one word? Gorgeous! – Martina Nairz

• Trailhead: Leutasch
• Duration: 6 hours (ascent and descent across Puittal Valley)
• Difficulty: Moderate; sure footing is required in the final push to the summit
• Alternative Routes: Descending via Wetterstein Hut makes for a very satisfying loop hike
• Trailside Eateries: Wettersteinhütte, Wangalm

View over Leutasch Valley. Photo Credit: Martina Nairz

Venet (2,512 m) – Tirol’s Finest Vantage Point

The view doesn’t get any better than this. It’s among the most sublime spectacles to be found anywhere in Tirol! Take the Railjet train to Landeck-Zams, walk to the base of the gondola for 500 meters and enjoy a scenic 12-minute gondola ride up to an elevation of 2,200 meters. The Venet is my home mountain, and I know it like the back of my hand. Venet Gondola whisks you from Zams atop “Krahberg” Mountain, close to the summit of Venet at all times of the year, summer and winter. Towering high above Tirol Oberland Region, its summit has been marked by a red-white broadcasting station which can be seen from afar since the late 1960s. Lace up your hiking shoes and take a hike starting at the top of the gondola for even more spectacular high Alpine views – here are my top three suggestions:

1. Take a leisurely stroll and discover the wonder of Alpine plants along the “Herb Walk”. This easy 20-minute round-trip trek starts at the gondola’s top and follows the circumference of the mountain; keep an eye out for the wooden decks with benches and lounge chairs. Take a seat and scan the horizon towards Kaunergrat Nature Park to the South. This will leave your head spinning as you try to identify a seemingly infinite array of peaks spread out before you: from close-ups of Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, all the way to mighty Ortler and Arlberg Range.

2. Families are strongly recommended to take “Tobi’s Adventure Trail”, a delightful walk down to the gondola’s mid-mountain terminal along Zammer Alm, which was awarded as best family mountain lodge by Gault Millau. There are plenty of interactive activities to keep children entertained, from admiring over-life sized wooden animals over stacking rock cairns to damming waterways.

3. If you are feeling more energetic, you can push yourself to new heights and incredible views on towering Venet (Glanderspitze) Peak. From the top of the gondola, the trail descends a few meters before it climbs up along the ridge crest to gain the 2,512-meter summit of Glanderspitze Peak. By doing so, you will have followed the E5 European Long Distance Path for a few kilometers. The trail is not a loop so you will have to turn back the way you came. Allow two and a half hours for both ways. – Christian Klingler

• Trailhead: Top of Venet Gondola
• Duration: 20 minutes/1 hour/2.5 hours
• Difficulty: Easy mountain trails; bagging the peak is moderate
• Alternative Routes: The Venet Loop Trail takes in the summit of Glanderspitze Peak and Goglesalm Alpine Pasture Hut
• Trailside Eateries: Panorama Restaurant, Zammer Alm, Goglesalm

Photo by Christian Klingler.

Tschirgant (2,370 m) – The Volcano of Oberland

I have been living in Innsbruck for the last few years, but I grew up in Tirol Oberland Region, in the tiny village of Roppen to be precise. My home mountain, the volcano-like peak of Tschirgant, is very recognizable and can be seen from afar. While passing through Tirol Oberland Region on the autobahn, you might have gazed up at its rock faces from below. When I was a child, it was my clue to remember the cardinal directions (seen from our home, the summit of Tschirgant was in the North). My Dad, a passionate climber, was the one who guided me to the summit of Tschirgant for the first time. The mountain takes its name from a local dialect word for “pointed shovel”, probably referring to its shovel-like summit.

The summit of Tschirgant can be reached several ways from the valley. According to my Dad, the best way to attain its formidable summit is the trail from Karrösten. We always start at the car park of the Interpretive Geology Trail near Karrösten and follow the dirt road to Karröster Alm. After about 30 minutes we take the right fork onto a dirt road toward “Bergwachthütte”. After about an hour of walking, the road turns onto a well-marked footpath that climbs past Bergwachthütte. There, we take the right (upper) path and ascend switchbacks to a ledge that leads us to the summit cross named Karröster Gipfelkreuz (cables aid in moving up the ledge). We continue hiking along the ridge past Karrer Kreuz and make the final push to the summit of Tschirgant. From the peak, we retrace our steps and head back the way we came. – Theresa Schuler

• Trailhead: Car park of the Interpretive Geology Trail near Karrösten
• Duration: 3.5 hours
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red)
• Alternative Routes: Ascent via Karres/Karrer Alm (mostly hot and sunny as you are not sheltered from the sun on this north-facing slope); from Haiming along Haiminger Alm (a longer but very beautiful option); or further East on a Two Day Trek from Obsteig
• Trailside Eateries: Karröster Alm

One of the best ways to see Tschirgant Peak is from Obsteig. Photo Credit: Bettina Jais

Nockspitze (2,404m) – The Perfect Sunrise Hike

I experienced my first and most amazing sunrise in the mountains atop Nockspitze Spire. Also known as Saile, this is a very popular mountain in the backyard of Innsbruck. Equipped with headlamp and breakfast in the daypack, the sunrise tour departs from the car park at the base of Axamer Lizum Ski Resort well before daybreak. Start by crossing a creek and heading up along Halslsteig Trail through dense forest until you reach Halsl (elev. 1,992m). Take the footpath toward North (Birgitzköpflhütte) and you’re on the last stretch to Nockspitze Spire. The last push to the summit is steeper and requires sure footing, however, the trail is well groomed and nothing a healthy dog can’t do. On top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over Inntal, Wipptal and Stubaital Valleys. The summit offers early birds some of the best early morning views you can get in Tirol. Be sure to head out very early to see the sun rising over the mountains! If you didn’t bring breakfast, take a stop at Birgitzköpflhaus Lodge on your way down. – Anja Schauz

• Trailhead: Car park at the base of Axamer Lizum
• Duration: 2 hours, 889 meters of elevation gain; here’s an overview of Sunrise Times in the Innsbruck Area (German only)
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red)
• Alternative Routes: Via Birgitzköpflhaus Lodge; you can ride the Birgitzköpfl Chair Lift down.
• Trailside Eateries: Birgitzköpflhaus

Sunrise hike to Nockspitze. Photo Credit: Anja Schauz.

Patscherkofel (2,246m) – Innsbruck’s Family Mountain

Innsbruck is embedded by a cluster of iconic and notorious peaks, but the most famous mountain of all is Patscherkofel. Lovingly dubbed “Innsbruck’s Baldie”, its striking rounded summit is marked by a broadcasting station which can be seen from afar. Legend has it that Patscherkofel once was an active volcano and that gems like rock crystals and garnets are hidden inside and are yet to be rediscovered. And although I haven’t found any by now, I am lured to restore new energies atop “Kofel” at all times of the year, summer and winter. During the warmer months, I like to explore Patscherkofel Mountain together with my two sons. We love to stroll along Zirbenweg Trail. Sometimes our destination is Grünboden Hut, sometimes it is Boscheben, Tulfes or the summit itself. Wherever we end up, the views always have us feeling like the master of the mountains. And even if we only build rock cairns for half an hour or pick wild berries: Back down in the valley we feel refreshed and relaxed afterwards. – Julia König

• Trailhead: Patscherkofelbahn Gondola Base
• Duration: It takes 2.5 hours to reach the summit along Zirbenweg Trail and Boscheben
• Difficulty: Easy to moderate mountain footpaths; all suitable for children
• Alternative Routes: You can ride your mountain bike from downtown Innsbruck to the top—this is the crown jewel of mountain bike rides in the environs of Innsbruck.
• Trailside Eateries: Gipfelhütte, Boscheben, “Das Hausberg” and “Kofel” Restaurants

Photo by Julia König.

Heimkehrerkreuz (2,373m) – Mountaintop Mass with View of the Dolomites

The 2,373-meter summit of Heimkehrerkreuz at Schützenmahd recalls childhood memories. Once a year, this was the destination for a very special family outing. Every year in early September an outdoor mass is celebrated at the cross on its top. And even if you don’t consider yourself religious, you might find a mountaintop mass has something for you: It’s a truly special atmosphere, accompanied by solemn brass music and the calming, soothing scent of incense. Moreover, at the summit, enjoy 360 degree views of lofty peaks, including the Dolomites to the South and the Villgraten Mountains to the north. – Ingrid Schneider

• Trailhead: Sillian
• Duration: About 3 hours if you climb along Heimatsteig Trail (1,200 meters of elevation gain)
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red)
• Alternative Routes: Drive up to Leckfeldalm Alpine Pasture Hut, elev. 1,925 meters (toll road). Attain the summit of Heimkehrerkreuz across Leckfeldsattel Saddle (difficult and only recommended for experienced climbers) or take the forested dirt road to Sillianer Hut and nab the peak from there.
• Trailside Eateries: Sillianer Hut, Leckfeldalm

En route to Leckfeldalm Alpine Pasture Hut. Photo Credit: TVB Osttirol/Isep CK.

Wannig (2,493m) – The Unknown Mountain between Lechtal Alps and Mieminger Range

The 2,493-meter summit of Wannig, or Wanneck as it is called by locals, is part of Mieminger Range. The rugged and striking peak with its limestone outcroppings has fascinated me since I was a child. The steely grey peak towers above my parents’ house on the shores of Nassereither See Lake and was the first thing I saw when I looked out of my room’s window. Each year our family nabbed the peak to savour the fine views of the surrounding mountains, including Zugspitze, Tschirgant, Lorea, Sonnenspitze and Wildspitze Peak in the distance. Trailhead is the village center of Nassereith and the route takes you past Adlerhorst, a spectacular viewing platform that offers stunning vistas over Nassereith and Gurgltal Valley. The trail winds along abandoned mining sites and a short detour to Nassereither Alm is strongly recommended. This rustic Alpine Pasture hut provides a perfect rest stop for hikers. The view from the top of the summit will have you feeling like an eagle. You can expect to have very few encounters on this trail so if you enjoy solitude, incredible views, wildlife and wildflowers this trail is for you. – Holger Gassler

• Trailhead: Village center of Nassereith (elev. 843 m), Fernstein, Fern Pass or Biberwier
• Duration: 4 to 5 hours (one way) – ascent via Adlerhorst and Geierkopf; 1,650 meters of elevation gain
• Difficulty: Moderate, mountain footpath (red); sure footing is required as some sections are exposed and traverse scree and talus slopes
• Trailside Eateries: Nassereither Alm (Muthenau Alm)
• Strongly Recommended: Spend the night at Nassereither Alm and attain the summit of Wannig early in the morning to see the sun rise over the mountains

We’d love to hear from you: Why not scale one of these mountains yourself now—or tell us about your home mountain and describe what makes it so special to you!

Jannis

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” This compelling quote says it all for outdoor lover Jannis Braun. His passion for hiking and mountain biking inspired him to move from Germany to Innsbruck. Finding pleasure in the mountains, Jannis continues to embrace the beauty and culture around him.

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