Hike to the Gepatschferner Glacier Tongue

Rate this Adventure 4.2 miles 1640.4 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Cat Ekkelboom-White

This incredible five-hour hike leads you right in to the Austrian alps, bringing you face-to-face with the second largest glacier in the country, as well as some awesome wildlife.

Once you pass the toll station for the Kauntertal Glacier Road, you keep following the road past the reservoir and up to the waterfall and climbing garden. This is where you park the car and start the hike, following the signs for route 902 to the Rauhekopfhütte.

For the first hour, your are mostly ascending, with a trail that zig-zags up the mountainside. You'll need to cross the odd stream here so having waterproof, ankle-high boots is a must.

After around one hour the path evens out more into a more gradual ascent in the form of a panoramic trail. At every bend you get the feeling like the glacier will be right around the next corner, but the trail teases you for quite a bit longer yet.

As you reach the iron memorial cross on a slight plateau, you finally get the first glimpse of the breathtaking glacier tongue of the Gepatschferner, the second largest glacier in Austria.

From this point, you start to descend down back towards the valley floor and the ice that fills it. It's important to tread carefully here as there are a lot of loose rocks. 

As you get to the bottom you come face to face with the enormous glacier and the crevasses inside it.

For hikers with a mountain guide, or training in glacier hiking and the right safety equipment, it is possible to continue the trail further across the glacier and up to a mountain hut but since we didn't have either, we turned around and headed back along the trail we came down.

Since the trail is marked as being for experienced glacier hikers, the route was empty and we didn't see another person all day. The only other company we had on the route were some sheep, marmots and alpine chamois. 

*If you want to cross the glacier you'll also need specialist equipment such as a climbing harness, helmet, ropes, and crampons. You'll probably also want to hire a qualified mountain guide to take you across. 

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