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| 6h10 | 12.5 km | 2342 m | 667 m
From Karthaus, walk along the valley floor to reach Unser Frau in Schnals. A steep section on trail no. 15 takes you to the Vernagt reservoir. From Vernagt, the discovery site of "Ötzi“, the Tisenjoch pass at 3,210m, can be reached in 4 hours. The trail then climbs to the Tisenhof farmstead and heads northwards into the Tisental valley, in which the 1,300m climb to the Niederjoch pass begins.
Overall, this stage varies considerably, as far as its landscape and particularly its culture and history are concerned, as it leads past outstanding places of natural and cultural interest. The trails range from the easy woodland trail to the mountain path of alpine character in high-altitude terrain with sparse vegetation. From Karthaus, walk along the valley floor to Unser Frau in Schnals. The popular place of pilgrimage at 1,508m in altitude is the main town in the valley. Cosy, weatherbeaten farmhouses splendidly decked out in flowers stand harmoniously beisde newly built hotels and private residences. The Schnals archaeological park was established here on the upper left edge of the village. It is an archeological open-air museum that is most definitely worth a visit. At this point, the valley already opens onto a first view in the direction of today’s destination, the Tisenjoch pass. Cross the road and make the steep climb on trail no. 15 to the Vernagt reservoir, whose water is channelled to Naturns, 1,100m further down. The reservoir swallowed up optimal farmland and changed the landscape picture and microclimate of the valley. Cross the dam wall to reach the little village of Vernagt. Vernagt is the starting point for the walk to the Similaun Hut at 3,019m, and a popular holiday destination. Around Vernagt lie the highest situated wheat fields in Europe, and shortly after leaving the village the trail enters a typical pastureland area. From Vernagt, the Ötzi discovery site, the Tisenjoch pass at 3,210m can be reached in approx. 4 hours. Ater changing to the other side of the valley and crossing the road, head up to the Tisenhof farmstead and northward further into the Tisental valley, through which the remaining 1,300m in altitude to the Niederjoch pass are covered. Follow in the footsteps of Ötzi on a ancient trail along which important archaeological discoveries were made that go back as far as early history. Indeed, there have been many special discoveries in this cultural landscape, formed over thousands of years. High above the pass at the border between Italy and Austria stands the Similaun Hut. It is a stopover point for this stage before continuing further down into the Ötztal valley. Here, Via Alpina reaches its highest point at 3,019m. Overall, this is a long stage that demands a good fitness level, as almost 1,700m in altitude must be climbed. A detour to the discovery site of the glacier mummy can therefore be postponed until the next day.
(Stefan Illmer, Karin Leichter, AVS)
Even at around the turn of the century before last, the Texel group was reconnoitred by Guido Lammer, a Viennese mountaineer. In the process, he climbed most of the summits, many of which were still embedded in the eternal ice, and drew up a valuable treatise with corresponding sketches. The famous English landscape painter E. T. Compton also visited the Texel group in order to portray the wild diversity of the nature on canvas. From the vine to the firn; the diversity and contrasts in this compact mountain region can hardly be described. An altitude difference of almost 3,000m presents the mountaineer with the entire range of South Tyrolean climate zones, which stretch from the upper boundary of the sub-Mediterranean vegetation belt to the nival zone. Mention must also be made of the animal world here, which on account of its diversity unquestionably places this alpine landscape on a par with the large mountain regions in the Alps. Following the sensational discovery of the “Ice Man”, archaeological digs were conducted in the Schnalstal, Vinschgau and Austrian Venter Tal valleys and it was thus possible for seven cross-border, cross-community archaeological hiking trails to be defined (which for South Tyrol was unique). Particularly important discovery sites are marked by copper panels on which the most important information can be read in condensed form. The relevant hiking trails are distinguished by a special type of marking, namely the stylised axe from the many trappings of the “glacier mummy”. This “Similaun man”, affectionately referred to as “Ötzi” has gained world renown. He astonished people and fascinated scientists like no other human discovery before. The ice man was found around 5,300 years after his death on one of the Schnalstal three-thousand metre high promontories, the Tisenjoch pass. A visit to the archaeological park is worthwhile. This is a discovery centre attached to open terrain offering a documentary exhibition on the habitat of the “Ice Man”. The themes presented cover the oldest human life traces in the alpine region through to the “Ice Man” and his lifestyle and farming methods. The annual sheep transhumance in mid-June from Vernagt and Kurzras over the Niederjoch and Hochjoch passes to the pastureland in the Austrian Ötztal valley is a special attraction in the Schnalstal valley. The 3,000 or so animals are then brought down again in around mid-September along paths that are thousands of years old, in the footsteps of the Ice Man from the Early Stone Age. The sheep caravan crosses numerous snowfields and altitudes of up to 3,000m in the process.
(Stefan Illmer, Karin Leichter, AVS)
Other long-distance trails and alternative routesArchaeological hiking trail; climb from the Similaun Hut to the discovery site of the "Ice Man".
Useful topographic maps
Last update : 2011-06-20