Tours of the Glockner Group
Key information: Tours of the Glockner Group
- There are various ways of touring/circuiting Austria’s highest mountains – all of them superb walking in magnificent landscape.
- Walkopedia rating88.5
- Natural interest16.5
- Human interest4
- Negative points0
- Total rating88.5
- Length: 68km
- 6-7 days
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
Austria’s largest National Park is arguably the single finest walking area in Austria – although many would argue for some of its competitors! It lies a bit north of the Italian border and south-ish of Salzburg and consists of a number of sub-groups, of which the Glockner group is the highest – indeed Austria’s highest mountains.
There are various ways of touring/circuiting the Glockner group. With limited ways of crossing the high east-west(ish) ridge to each side of the central massif, there are a couple of unavoidable trails if you want to see both sides of the massif.
The Runde Tour
This is the grand route, a magnificent 8 day or so horseshoe around the marvels of the massif, with close-ups of Grossglockner (if it deigns to emerge from its cloud cap) and numerous glaciers, with huge views as standard and several superb detours to add on including an ascent of Grossglockner itself.
While a 'rucksack route' in that you stay and are fed in huts and don't need to carry technical gear, it involves some tough ascents/descents, a lot of (thrilling) exposure and some glacier work, so it is a full-on journey.
While it does not make a full circuit, you can easily join up the ends to make one. (You are likely to want to take a bus to get to Fusch in the far north-east, so it not wholly sequential either.)
The route begins and ends on the southern slopes, although you can start anywhere and fairly easily link the official beginning and end to make a full circuit.
Day 1 - a steady 4km/2.5hr climb up the fine Kodnitztal valley above the Lucknerhaus near Kals on Grossglockner to the Studl Hut on a ridge with wonderful views onto Grossglockner... on a good day. The lower valley is overbusy, but, once you have climbed a few minutes above the Luckner Hut, an hour up the valley, numbers have thinned out and a vast bowl opens up of glacier-fed streams tumbling down rocky faces below the dramatic high ridges next to Grossglockner.
You can climb Grossglockner from the Studl Hut. An amazing route via the high Erzherzog Johann Hut involving an easy but long glacier crossing and a lot of scrambling, some of it demanding and extremely vertiginous. Equipment and good weather needed. You can then stay in the EJH and make a fabulous traverse the next day to the Glockner Haus.
Day 2 - this short (5km/3hr) but marvellous walk traverses the high eastern slopes of the upper Kodnitztal valley, with huge views and some exciting klettersteig before a steep climb to cross the 2,828m Pfort Scharte and head on to the Salm Hut. (Note that the upper Kodnitzbach stream was very hard to cross when we were there in Sept ’18.)
Days 1 and 2 can easily be combined (with a shortcircuit of the leg out to the Studl Hut). See our Walks above Kals page.
Day 3 is another short stage (6km/3hrs), but glorious: a superb traverse on the Wiener Höhenweg with lovely southerly views, then a steep scramble to the Stocker Scahrte pass for outstanding views up the Pasterze valley to the eponymous glacier, the longest in eastern Europe, and 3,453m Johannisberg behind. You then drop to the Margaritze Strausee reservoir, then climb to the large Glockner Haus. A marvel.
Day 4 is a much longer (12km/7ish hrs) day, crossing a lot of very rough ground amidst icy and rocky scenery, generally without yesterday’s visual marvels. Having climbed 500m+ to the high col, you drop 1,150m to a roadhead. Most then take a bus on to the town of Fusch deep in its eponymous valley, in the far north-west of the circuit (you can walk there, but it makes a long day).
Day 5 climbs 1,360m to the Gleiwitzer Hut in some 5hrs or so. Lovely landscape once above the forest, but a long haul.
Day 6 is a marvel, a long and demanding and very exposed trail traversing the high and jagged Spitzbrett ridge between the Kaprun and Fuscher valleys. Arguably one of the finest high walks in the eastern Alps. See our Spitzbrett page for more.
End up at the Heinrich Schweiger Hut high above the Mooserboden reservoir at the head of the Kapruntal. ([km / hrs)
Day 7 drops back to the Kaprun valley head and heads westward, at first on the level and heavily used Austriaweg beside the reservoir below the northern slopes of the Glockner massif, then climbs to the 2,639m Kapruner Torl, to drop into the huge, dramatic, crazed, boulder-strewn bowl below the remains of the Tor Kees glacier. You reach the huge Rufolfs Hut (2,315m) above the Wisesee some 9km later in getting on for [8hrs. You can make an outstanding climb of Granatspitze via the Sonnblick Kees glacier, although this requires technical climbing and glacier equipment.
Day 8 is a cracker, climbing to the 2,518m Kalser Tauern pass in the high Glockner ridge (you’re right – wonderous views) then dropping to join the Silesia Hohenweg for a marvellous southward steady climb across the high slopes above the Dorfertal valley to another high pass; then crossing bowls and valleys between three significant ridges (some cable/rope assistance needed). You then cross the ultra-desolate Bloibalfelan to the high (indeed, highest, at 2,826m) Gradetz Sattel to descend into a new broken, recently-glacial bowl to finally reach the delights of the Sudetendeutsher Hut. A long day (11km, approaching 8 hrs, with a lot of climb/descent). An alternative for those who need to exit here is to drop into the Dorfertal valley to the Kalser Taurnhaus, and hence to Kals. You can climb 3,232m Grosser Muntanitz from the hut – a thrilling climb, non-technical but very exposed in places.
Day 9 is officially a descent to Matrei in Osttirol, but we would recommend heading south-ish on the Sudetendeutsher Hohenweg or a steady, gorgeous, ridge-flank descent to the Goldried cablecar and hence to Matrei (or indeed by cable car to Kals). A more fitting grand finale.
Trekking in Austria’s Hohe Tauern – Allen Hartley for Cicerone describes thia walk and its alternatives. As usual, packed with valuable information. Find on Amazon.
This superb route crosses the high summit-laden ridge of the Glockner group, north-south, with superb scenery much of the way. It is, in effect, an adaptation of the second half of the Runde Tour. 5-6 days, depending on how you approach it. Not an official trail. One version of it is well explained in the Cicerone book (See below).
It takes in the very best of the Kaprun valley to the north, then swings west of Grossglockner to enjoy the finest walks above Kals am Grossglockner in the south.
There are alternative ways to start, either way getting to the Heinrich Schweiger Hut high above the Mooserboden reservoir at the head of the Kapruntal.
You can start in Kaprun, and approach along the highlands, west of the Kaprun Valley, i.e. the Alexander Enzinger Weg then the Arnoweg (Route 726). 2 days.
Teeter in along the marvellous Spitzbrett Ridge, day 6 of the Runde Tour (see above). A long and demanding and very exposed trail traversing the high and jagged ridge between the Kaprun and Fuscher valleys. Arguably one of the finest high walks in the eastern Alps. You will have to spend a day getting to the high Gleiwitzer Hut first, though.
You then follow days 7 and part of 8 of the Runde Tour (see above), across the high Glockner ridge, to the Kalser Tauernhaus. Alternative finishes are:
To head on west on the Runde Tour days 8 and 9, to enjoy the delights of the Sudetendeutscher Höhenweg.
Or to head east to the Studl Hut and on to the Glorer Hut, both described in our Above Kals page.
Walking in Austria – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including a version of this one. Find on Amazon.
Exploring the south-east
Follow days 1-3 of the Runde Tour – including a crossing of the high summit ridge via the Erzherzog Johann Hut, even taking in an ascent of Grossglockner itself.
A Walkopedia priority to do one of these walks.
This is tough walking in high, remote mountains with unpredictable weather, on which you will have to be self-sufficient. Come prepared.
Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on the area.
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For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Hohe Tauern walk page.
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