Stubai Glacier Tour

  • Alpine Creek, Stubai - © Flickr user dorena-wm
  • Wilder Freiger from Mairspitze - © William Mackesy

Key information: Stubai Glacier Tour

  • This magnificent trek follows a horseshoe of excellent huts in the Austrian Tyrol's beautiful Stubai Alps. It does, however, involves a lot of serious glacier walking. Caution!
  • Superb views of snowy peaks, mountain lakes, shimmering glaciers and typical Alpine meadows massed with flowers.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating90
  • Beauty35
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest6
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating90
  • Note: Negs: Heavy loads

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 65km
  • 6-7 dsys
  • Maximum Altitude: 3,471m
  • Level of Difficulty: Difficult
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Wilder Freiger from Mairspitze - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

This marvellous high hutted walk follows a horseshoe-shaped circuit along the mountains which now straddle the border between Austria and Italy. 

It usually takes 6 or 7 days, with between 5-8 hours of walking each full day (5-15km); it varies in difficulty, with some hard, high days to tackle. It leads from hut to hut though a wide spectrum of landscapes from flower-strewn grassy slopes to narrow snow-covered ledges. This route crosses several glaciers, so you need considerable experience unless you have a guide – and all the right kit. It is not for beginners.  

The scenery is spectacular and varied, from vast craggy peaks and high glaciers to lakes, valleys and meadows of tiny alpine flowers, with far reaching views from the Swiss Alps to the Dolomites.

The path takes you up through the steep lower landscape of pine forests to the (relatively) gentler pastureland above, classic alpine scenery complete with grazing animals, traditional farming methods and verdant meadows, decorated by a profusion of wild flowers and streams. As the route reaches higher altitudes the green gives way to harsher mountain scenery.  The rocky tracks cross boulder fields and can climb steeply over slippery shale and loose stone, but afford magnificent views of the high peaks and glaciers and over ridges towards the receding range, or down onto turquoise alpine lakes.   Here the most strenuous parts of the walk negotiate narrow, steep ledges and cross the formidable beauty of vast (albeit tragically shrinking) blue (sometimes dirty) glaciers, a serious undertaking. You will need proper equipment and good experience (or an experienced guide).

This is demanding walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared.

An early start each day is advised to allow you to complete the majority of the day’s walking before midday.  The sun can be but the possibility of a sudden snowstorm should not be discounted at any time. The route is marked by cairns, with cables at the steepest parts.

A variety of wildlife can be seen, including loveable marmots, chamois, ibex and various raptors and vultures.

There are welcoming huts on route. Accommodation is generally either in dormitories or twin rooms, and food is plentiful and good. The huts provide a welcome place to relax and meet other walkers, and to plan the next day’s journey.

See our Stubai Alps page for more information on the area and photos.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on these walks (support us: find these and many more using our Amazon search box)

Trekking in the Stubai Alps – Alan Hartley/Cicerone, about the Höhenweg (Rucksack Route) [link] and the Glacier Tour. THE book on these trails, with all the detail and care you would expect.

Find these and other books on Amazon.

Other books (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)

 

Maps

Alpenvereinkarte – sheets 32/1 and 31/2. Obtainable locally.

Also the Freytag & Berndt 1:50,000 map of the area (WK 241) – pretty sufficient if you also have the Cicerone book.

There are also smaller-scale maps covering the wider region, which are useful for general orientation.

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk.  An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

June to end September (check if the huts are open if thinking of going after mid-September). June sees quite a lot of lying snow still, August is peak season. Mid July and early September are therefore arguably the best times.

Weather

Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather (wet fronts can last for days) and cold nights high up.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Innsbruck is the nearest main airport (Munich and Venice further afield – you can then head on train or bus, or hire a car and drive). Skyscanner is an excellent (relatively new) site for finding the flights you need; or look at what’s available on TripAdvisor.

Innsbruck is less than an hour by bus from the main starting points. Public transport is generally excellent – and integrated, with trains between the cities and plentiful buses, so it is viable to get to most places this way.

The roadheads are reached by a service bus which shuttles to and fro all day along the valley bottoms, you can park a car there too.

Car hire is easy.

Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported from/to Neustift im Stubaital. 

No permits are needed to do this walk.

See our Stubai Alps page for more information on the area and photos.

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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  • Altitude: can affect some; acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope.
  • Mountain weather:  snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year.  Come prepared.
  • Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
  • Glaciers: the route crosses several, for the experienced with the right kit only – or for the guided.
  • Heights:  can be dangerous:  not for those who have difficulties with heights.
  • Glaciers: are for the experienced/guided and properly equipped only.
  • This can be remote country: help may be hard to get if things go wrong.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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While this walk can be done independently, some people form or join organised/supported expeditions – with several glaciers to deal with, many will do well to use an experienced guide. Guides can be arranged locally, including through the tourist office.

Accommodation

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It is huts or camping only on the route. With the mountain hut network so good, there is less desire to wild camp in Austria than in many countries, and there isn’t much clear information on the rules.  It appears to be discouraged, but, as long as you're sensible and low-key, there shouldn't be an issue. (Please let us know if this can be clarified further!)

See our Stubai Alps page for more information on accommodation in the area.

Other information and tips

www.aacuk.org.uk   The Austrian Alpine Club (UK) is inexpensive to join, members benefit from reduced rates at alpine huts and full insurance cover. 

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

  • www.stubai.at This site has an excellent description of this walk.
  • www.stubaier-hoehenweg.at    This site has details of all the huts, opening times etc, maps and other useful information about the walk.  Excellent site but only in German at the moment.
  • Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on this walk.

See our Stubai Alps  page for more information on the area and photos.

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Other things to do in the area

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See our Stubai Alps page for more information on the area and photos.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS AND PHOTOS

Name: Rudi
Posted on: 25/12/2010
Really great walk which can be done in fewer days than the classical 8. Not to technical, yet some ladders and somewhat difficult passages.


Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

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OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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