Via Himmelsleiter to Hochstubaihütte
Mountain lakes, stone steps and peak conquestThe third highest hut in Austria is a dreamlike destination for experienced mountaineers. Due to its exposed location on Wildkarspitze summit, it provides great panoramic views of Zugspitze peak and the southern Dolomites. The challenging ascent is rewarded with homemade specialties.
The first stage of this black (difficult) mountain tour is quite leisurely: take the hiking taxi up the switchbacks to Fiegl's Gasthaus (1956 m), you can use this special shuttle service for free with the Ötztal Premium Card. Then you start the hike from Windachtal along a zigzagging trail that winds its way up to Unterer Seekarsee mountain lake and further up to the so-called Himmelsleiter.
These steps formed by stone ledges are partly secured with steel ropes and lead to a ridge, from where it is not far to Hochstubaihütte at 3174 meters. The Zuckerhütl - the highest mountain in the Stubai Alps - seems close enough to touch. If you still want to conquer one of the surrounding summits you can make a detour to scenic Nebelkogel (approx. 20 walking minutes) before you finally stretch your legs and recharge your batteries at Hochstubaihütte.
On the return route you cross the Alpine vegetation zones in reverse order - from the world of stone, rock and old snowfields you hike past Laubkarsee mountain lakes and further down to blooming Alpine meadows. At Kleblealm, an idyllic mountain farming hamlet at about 2000 meters above sea level, you are recommended to take a rest before you conquer the last stage down to Sölden - either on foot through the forest or by shuttle bus.
Walking time is about 7 hours (4 hours ascent to the hut, 3 hours down to Kleblealm).
Please note: The trail crosses exposed areas and old snowfields which last until late summer. Therefore, surefootedness and a good head for heights are absolutely necessary.
Special tip: Stay overnight at Hochstubaihütte - ideal also for mountain enthusiasts with less stamina. Additionally, the sunsets are legendary up there!