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A little scree underfoot — Lechtaler High Trail in Austria

Mareike

A little scree underfoot — Lechtaler High Trail in Austria

Hiking Collection by Mareike

8-17

days

3-6 h

/ day

54.6 mi

23,525 ft

24,900 ft

Black, white and grey, as well as red, yellow and blue – the rocks in the Lechtal Alps take on all these colours. In no other mountain group have I noticed the diversity of the rocks as much as here. But perhaps that was because I had to look at the ground a lot because the paths were so challenging.

The Lechtaler High Trail is a wonderful route for those who like to explore stunning panoramas. It leads along the main ridge of the Lechtal Alps, which always offers new challenges: you cross wide scree fields whose components range from almost sandy to rough. Via ferrata-like passages with good protection await, as well as difficult sections with no, or partially broken, support. The terrain is often very steep, which makes it strenuous for the legs as well as the head.

A large part of the time, you’re far above the tree line in exclusively rocky terrain. The rock is often brittle, which, together with frequent exposed passages, makes this route difficult. A helmet is useful on large parts of the high-altitude trail and the unstable rock also means that the fixed belays break off more often than elsewhere, or that there are no belays at all where you might expect them. Absolute surefootedness and a head for heights are prerequisites for this route. The highlight of the traverse and its most difficult section is the Augsburger Höhenweg, my second stage.

The official Lechtaler High Trail has several variants and I’ve adapted it so that it’s easily accessible by public transport. I skipped both the Stuttgarter and Ulmer hut in the far west of the Lechtal Alps so that I could take the train to St. Anton am Arlberg. Instead, I added a stage at the very end that led me down into the Lechtal valley to Elmen, where I could take the valley bus to the train station in Reutte.

This hike takes you to almost 3,000 metres (9,900 ft), so the season to hike is from July to September. I recommend booking the huts in advance, because the popular E5 Alpine Crossing and its variants lead across the Lechtal Alps as well, making the huts busier than you might expect. On several of the stages, there are no refreshment stops along the way and you have no opportunity to buy anything during the entire hike. However, it is usually possible to get snacks at the huts or to take a snack from the breakfast buffet – always ensure you hike with food supplies.

This crossing of the Lechtal Alps is a grand hike that you’ll especially enjoy if you love peaceful landscapes with epic views.

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Lechtaler Höhenweg von St. Anton am Arlberg nach Elmen

49.5 mi

19,925 ft

21,075 ft

Last updated: November 15, 2022

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: St. Anton am Arlberg to Ansbacher hut — Lechtaler High Trail

    Difficult
    09:17
    12.2 mi
    1.3 mph
    5,350 ft
    2,050 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The first stage is quite challenging, but apart from a somewhat more demanding section between the Hinterseejoch and the Alperschonjoch, the paths are easy to walk. On the way you will pass two huts, the Leutkircher Hütte and the Kaiserjochhaus. The stage can also be easily divided into two days.

    

    I arrived

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  • Difficult
    09:43
    7.22 mi
    0.7 mph
    2,950 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Augsburg High Trail. I gave most of my thoughts to this section of the traverse in advance, as it is described as very demanding, but I found it difficult to assess this claim for myself. That's why I decided that I would only decide on site whether I could and wanted to go this route. The postponement

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  • Difficult
    05:06
    6.58 mi
    1.3 mph
    2,975 ft
    3,125 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This stage is rather moderate compared to the others. In the first part it is even more difficult and brittle and peppered with scrambling, in the second part from the path gap it is easier.

    

    In order not to repeat the path through the Gasill Gorge from the previous day, this day begins with the ascent

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  • Difficult
    11:29
    12.4 mi
    1.1 mph
    5,400 ft
    6,325 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    I combined two stages for this long day. The route can therefore be divided in half with a night at the Hanauer Hütte. From here the terrain is generally easier than the days before. It's also getting a little greener again. Nevertheless, it remains exciting with a few challenging sections.

    

    You cross

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  • Difficult
    04:26
    4.70 mi
    1.1 mph
    2,425 ft
    2,175 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This is the shortest stage on my version of the Lechtaler Höhenweg. It almost feels like a short walk in comparison. The Anhalter Hütte is a wonderful destination for this: There is a large sun terrace and a very cozy parlor, delicious food and friendly hosts on top of that. So you can safely spend half

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  • Difficult
    11:06
    11.5 mi
    1.0 mph
    4,450 ft
    7,900 ft
    Expert mountaineering route. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Strictly speaking, this stage no longer belongs to the Lechtaler Höhenweg, but leads over the Anhalter Höhenweg. Otherwise you would have to descend from the Anhalter Hütte to the Hahntennjoch to take the bus home and the Lechtal Alps go a little further. The final stage is again very long and demanding

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    54.6 mi
  • Duration
    51:08 h
  • Elevation
    23,525 ft24,900 ft

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