Recommended Ski Tour: Excursion to the Ice Cave in scenic Rotmoostal
A very special tip for adventure-seeking ski mountaineers or snowshoe hikers in wintry Obergurgl: the Ice Cave in picture-book Rotmoostal valley! This ultimate ski tour recommendation provides all important details on the breathtaking Ice Cave, how you reach it and which hazards are associated with such a tour.
Highly mystic mood in the Stone Pine Forest © Bernd Ritschel / Ötztal Tourismus
Follow the eternal ice!
Trailhead of this fantastic ski mountaineering tour is the top station of Steinmannbahn lift in Obergurgl. Ambitious sportsmen ascend on skis, but those who prefer a more leisurely pace can also take the 6-seater chair lift right to the starting point.
The tour is suitable for both ski tour aficionados and snowshoe hikers. Especially snowshoe hikers are strongly recommended to take the mountain lift as the rest of the route is still very challenging.
Those who are fit enough can ascend from the base station of Steinmannbahn lift straight to Schönwieshütte – on idyllic winter walking trails through the Stone Pine Forest. The route is perfectly beaten and signposted. Time required from the Steinmannbahn base station to Schönwieshütte: approx. 1.5 hours
The journey is its own reward
But let’s go back to the original starting point at the top station of Steinmannbahn: here you follow the trail towards Schönwieshütte which was newly built in 2015. A truly breathtaking routes offering awesome panoramic vistas of the upper Ötztal – don’t forget to bring your camera!
Also the mountain hut at 2270 meters altitude makes a real eye-catcher. Newly opened in December 2015, Schönwieshütte boasts a perfect blend of tradition and modern lifestyle by preserving a high level of typical Tirolean gemutlichkeit. Unfortunately we leave the hut behind, first we explore the scenic Ice Cave.
The new Schönwieshütte and its surrounding landscape fit together smoothly
© Alexander Lohmann / Ötztal Tourismus
At the small bridge you turn eastwards into Rotmosstal valley, shortly before reaching Schönwieshütte. On the right side of the valley you walk past the lower moraine of mighty Rotmoos Glacier embedded in the fabulous Alpine scenery. Crossing the moraine’s rift you head towards the Glacier Gate where you also find the access point to the Ice Cave.
From the top station of Steinmannbahn lift to the Ice Cave you have to conquer about 250 altitude meters, requiring approximately 1.5 to 2 walking hours. For sure your efforts will be rewarded with a rare nature spectacle of a very special kind. The structures and ice layers inside the cave remind of a foreign planet. Its beautiful kaleidoscope of colors depends on the light conditions. Important: climbing irons and a headlamp are absolutely required if you walk into the Ice Cave!
Appropriate equipment and the correct use of it are an absolute must on this tour
© Hugo Reindl
Safety comes first
An emergency kit is an absolute must on this wonderful tour in high Alpine terrain: always take an avalanche transceiver, an avalanche probe and a shovel with you! Of course, you must try and test the emergency equipment first on marked ski slopes.
Additionally, you have to check the current avalanche report before you start the tour. Especially in spring the conditions can change very quickly due to the solar radiation level and increasing temperatures in the course of day! Also the ice layer inside the Ice Cave is permanently moving, therefore you enter the cave at your own risk.
Guided tours to the fabulous Ice Cave in Rotmoostal are also organized by the local mountain guides and ski instructors of Obergurg-Hochgurgl. You are recommended to enlist such a certified guide if you have no ski mountaineering or glacier experience. A memorable day in the upper Ötztal is guaranteed.
Thank you so much to Hugo Reindl, mountain guide and ski instructor from Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, who provided this ski mountaineering tip and the pictures.
The huge glacier-covered area in the environs of Obergurgl-Hochgurgl hides many other secret ice caves which appear and disappear from time to time. For example, one cave on Gurgler Ferner Glacier was discovered by members of Germany’s Summit Club in 2014. This video of the same year, taken by mountain guide Paul Walser from Obergurgl, gives an insight into the fascinating world of the eternal ice (in German).
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