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Bus to Mittelberg and walk to Rettenbachferner via the Rettenbachjoch ridge, bus to Sölden

Hiking route · Oetztal Alps
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  • The rocky ascent to Braunschweiger hut
    / The rocky ascent to Braunschweiger hut
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Glimpse of the Pitztaler Glacier
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Signpost on the way to Rettenbachjoch
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Braunschweiger Hut
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
m 2500 2000 1500 8 6 4 2 km
The most spectacular stage of the E5 route from Pitztal to Braunschweiger Lodge, via Rettenbachjoch ridge and down to the valley station on the Rettenbach glacier in Sölden.
Distance 9.4 km
4:30 h
1,337 m
399 m
3,008 m
1,736 m

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.


Profile picture of Sarah Stone
Sarah Stone
Update: March 14, 2019
Highest point
3,008 m
Lowest point
1,736 m
Best time of year

Safety information

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: 

Berghof Steinbock:  

Gletschertisch Bedienungsrestaurant mit Café-Lounge:  

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.


Mittelberg Wendestelle, bus stop (1,741 m)
46.958484, 10.876417
46°57'30.5"N 10°52'35.1"E
32T 642764 5202259


Mountain/Glacier Restaurant Rettenbach Glacier

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km - Take the bus from your accommodation to the destination station “Mittelberg Wendestelle”. The bus stop is on your left. On your right is Berghof Steinbock. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD along the wide gravel path and follow signs for Gletscherstube.

1.70 km - The Gletscherstube is on your left. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD on the wide gravel path.

1.90 km - TURN RIGHT and follow the trail that branches off to the left of the gravel path. The path is indicated with red/white striped markings and a large yellow sign points you in the direction of the waterfall.

3.00 km - Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD and follow the path ahead, which is equipped with wire ropes. Hold on to the wire ropes and be careful where you put your feet. Use your hands to steady yourself if you need to.

3.30 km - Come to  a wide gravel road. TURN LEFT and follow the road uphill.

3.80 km -  TURN LEFT onto another path. This path has red/white E5 markings.

4.00 km - At the fork, BEAR RIGHT and follow the path uphill. On your right is a yellow sign pointing towards Braunschweiger Lodge. You will walk through a number of steep passages with wire ropes, all of which have red markings. Look out for the markings on the rocks.

5.50 km - You have reached Braunschweiger Lodge. Pass the lodge on the right. There are now two options for your onward journey: Via Rettenbachjoch (continue to follow the directions below for this options) or Pitztaler Jöchl (see seperate notes for this option).

If you want to walk via Rettenbachjoch, head down the path bearing RIGHT at the yellow signs and follow the markings to Rettenbachjoch. 

Route via Rettenbachjoch: Follow the red/white markings on the rocks. There is only one path. It is steep and equipped with ropes; use your hands if necessary.

7.10 km - You have reached Rettenbachjoch, the highest point on today’s walk.

To start your descent, TURN LEFT in front of the house that is directly in front of you, coming from the summit. Continue to follow the red markings. The path is initially steep and rocky. A short section is equipped with wire ropes, and takes you under the cable car and then left along the edge of the Karleskogel mountain.

8.20 km - You will see a path that leads down from Pitztaler Jöchl, this is where the paths converge.

8.60 km - Come to a road. Follow the road as it winds downwards. The large Rettenbach glacier mountain restaurant is clearly visible below. You can take a footpath to cut the corners.

9.40 km - You have reached the Rettenbach glacier mountain restaurant. The bus stop for bus 8404 to Sölden is outside the glacier restaurant.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

Morning: Bus line 4204 to Mittelberg/Pitztal

Afternoon:  Glacier bus, Rettenbachferner – Sölden


46.958484, 10.876417
46°57'30.5"N 10°52'35.1"E
32T 642764 5202259
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Always wear good walking boots with a robust sole, and take waterproofs with you. Don’t forget to take plenty of water with you (at least two litres) and to protect yourself against the sun.

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Pat Brechin
September 03, 2018 · Community
Fabulous walk. Quite challenging in parts, especially going back down through deep snow (early September). Amazing views of Pitztaler glacier and surrounding mountains. Last bus back to Sölden from Rettenbachferner is at 4.27.
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Looking back to Mittelberg
Photo: Pat Brechin, Community
Panorama from Braunschweiger Lodge
Photo: Pat Brechin, Community
View from path to Rettenbachjoch
Photo: Pat Brechin, Community
Snowy descent from Rettenbachjoch
Photo: Pat Brechin, Community

Photos from others

9.4 km
4:30 h
1,337 m
399 m
Highest point
3,008 m
Lowest point
1,736 m


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