Legend tells that he is a petrified giant enthroned high over the villages of Sulden and Trafoi. The Ortler Group surrounding the eponymous main peak consists of numerous glaciated peaks, ridges and flanks and is part of Stilfserjoch National Park. Mt. Ortler itself has three prominent ridges – the north, south and Hintergrat ridge – and is one of the most frequented peaks in South Tyrol today.
The history of alpinism in Vinschgau is strongly linked to Sulden and Mt. Ortler. The first ascent was made by Josef Pichler from Passeiertal in 1804, on behalf of Archduke John of Austria. However, the area has slowly been discovered by tourists and mountaineers only at the end of the 19th century.
Ascent of Mt. Ortler
Since then the environs of Mt. Ortler have been attracting mountain lovers from almost everywhere. Countless rotes lead up to the summit, many of the are though less climbed. The so-called normal route via the north ridge starts in Sulden and leads along Tabaretta and Payer hut as a two-day excursion.
Due to icy, steep and exposed passages, the ascent is a high-alpine glacier tour. In addition, the conditions are constantly changing due to glacial retreat. In fact, sufficient experience, the appropriate equipment and good weather conditions are indispensable conditions for all those who would like to dare this mountain adventure. Also, a local mountain guide is highly recommended.
The Ortler North Face is one of the highest and most difficult faces of the Eastern Alps. Due to rockfall, séracs and strongly changing conditions, the ice wall is can only be climbed with more than excellent conditions and is therefore reserved for absolute mountain specialists.
Seeing the world from above
Nevertheless, the difficult ascent to Mt. Ortler is absolutely worth it. In fact, the summit at almost 4,000 m of altitude offers an incomparable view. In case of good visibility, climbers can see the Ötztal Alps, the Silvretta and Bernina Group as well as the Dolomites.
Special mention should be made also of the summit cross. In 2012, a thunderstorm has ripped out the old cross from its anchoring so that it fell down. One year later, it was replaced by a new, particularly beautiful stainless-steel cross, made by students from South Tyrol.