Route: Over the glaciers from Pitztal to Ötztal – Pitztal – Sölden via Rettenbachjoch
Covering a distance of 8km, this stretch is not long. However, due to the altitudes, terrain and challenging conditions on the 3000m high passes, this is the key stage of the tour. In the morning, you will take the bus to Mittelberg at the end of the Pitztal valley. From there, you will hike along the clearly marked “Waterfall trail (Wasserfellweg in German)” to Braunschweiger Lodge.
From Braunschweiger Lodge to Rettenbachjoch: The initial climb towards the Rettenbachjoch also has a number of sections that are equipped with wire rope, but on the whole this route is technically more straightforward than the alternative (via Pitztaler Jochl- see seperate notes for this route). The view from Rettenbachjoch is equally spectacular, stretching across to the built-up area around Rettenbachferner. The awe-inspiring views can be daunting even for seasoned skiers. The descent is rocky and crosses a number of boulders. Keep an eye out for the route markings. At the start of the season, there may still be too much snow to see the markings. If this is the case, follow the track across the snow at the edge of the piste and you may want to consider crampons/snow spikes for the descent. From mid/late July, you can also descend Rettenbach glacier by cable car.
Both routes meet at the restaurant at the Rettenbach glacier valley station, where you can also find the road and bus stop for buses to Sölden.
Today you may be walking past a few different areas where cows graze. Although generally very docile and used to walkers, keep your distance and never turn your back on a cow that is behaving strangely or aggressive. Be particularly vigilant around cows with calves.
If you’re feeling tired from the previous stages or have experienced problems with heights, do not attempt this stage – it is more challenging, both physically and technically, than the previous stages!
Watch out for falling rocks and keep your distance from other walkers. At the start of the season, there may still be snow on this section of the route.
Always allow plenty of time for your hike. The walking times indicated do not include breaks. Rest and photo breaks must be added to the times indicated. Check the latest weather information and be on the lookout for changes in the weather. Storms can develop rapidly in the Alps. Do not leave the marked hiking trails.
Tips and hints
There are possibilities for refreshments at the following places:
Braunschweiger Hütte: https://www.braunschweiger-huette.at/
Berghof Steinbock: https://www.berghof-steinbock.at/de/sommer/e5-wanderer
Gletschertisch Bedienungsrestaurant mit Café-Lounge: https://www.soelden.com/infrastructure-summer?do=info&id=5499
Opening hours can vary so we recommend always carrying enough food with you to keep you going!
From approx. the 30th of July, the “Schwarze Schneid” cable car runs from Rettenbachjoch down to the glacier, if you prefer not to descend on foot.