Tirol or “how to make sense of Austria”
Tirol is a very subjective affair. Normally I hate any climbing area with too many people around, to much industrialized climbing and weekend-climbers with a strong disregard for basic climbing rules. Normally at least… But somehow Tirol is different. Maybe it’s the great food, maybe the stunning landscape, maybe the extremely well protected and stressfree climbing, or maybe I’m just getting old and lazy.
The good thing about Tirol is the location at the heart of Europe. It’s easy to get to, extremely well protected, with great loging, and other spare time activities available.
The difference to actually all other climbing areas worldwide is the unique cooperation between the local tourism agencies and the climbing community. This resulted in a spectacularly transparent climbing area documentation, with up to date topos, route databases, photos of new areas and all this in combination with travel tips and booking possibilities for local hotels and B&Bs. All this can be found under:
CLIMBERS PARADISE (website) | Android App | iOS App
The positive thing about this is the surprising cleanliness of most of the areas, if you look at the heavily frequented areas like the Engelswand (Tumpen) or Oberried (Ötztal) it is really astonishing how clean the area still is. In part this is certainly due to a few things that might break an old caveman’s heart: fixed and charged parking places with rigorous control regarding wild parking or camping and fixed toilets with daily cleaning and real toilet paper. In all locations where that is the case or which are close to civilization, like the climbing arena Oetz, the Boulderlocations around Galtuer or even the Muttekopfhütte climbing areas the cleanliness is spotless. In areas where there isn’t either civilization close by (in walking distance) or toillet facilities, the boom in climbing left ugly traces, my worst example for that is Starkenbach followed by the area around Nassereith. Yes guys and girls I get it you have to go and there is no way you can make it the 30min down the mountain to the next restaurant or guesthouse, or the 5min car ride to the next town, but come on. show some decency. This is nature and I at least prefer it without the obvious signs of civilization like toillet paper and worse. Get your act together, walk the 30min back. I doubt you all climb 9a+ and your sponsor holds a gun to your head to finish your new 150m overhanging project on a featureless roof.
How to get to Tirol
There are 3 routes at least from Southern Bavaria (Munich):
- Via Autobahn: First to the A8 and then over the A12 until the exit “Ötztal”.
This is in most cases by far the fastest, but also the longest route.
- Via Autobahn and Bundesstrassen: First on the A95 then to the B2 and afterwards B171 and very shortly the A12
I’d either go for 1 or 3. This is kind of neither fast, nor beautiful. So skip this.
- Via Autobahn and Bundesstrassen (variant 2): First on the A95, then to the B2 and B23 (Fernpass), switch to B179 and B189.
This is sureley the cheapest and shortest route, but in most cases also the most tedious. But also the most beautiful.
Where to stay
This is not an easy decision as Tirol is THE tourism destination in Austria and thus pretty well supplied with suitable locations for all budgets, thus my recommendations are just a small selection of what is possible, and rather upscale and expensive.
- Ritzlerhof [Sautens | 170€]
A bit over the top for a normal climbing weekend retreat but one of our favourites, especially in warm weather. The pool is great in summer, but still very cold even at 30° Celsius outside. There is an indoor pool, but that’s much smaller and less inviting in my view. Everything is still brand new as the hotel was only recently opened. The rooms, particularly the suites are amazing, large, light wood, open and spacious, including an amazingly large bath (all pictures from suite). The beds are amazing in all room categories. Food is very decent, though the kitchen and restaurant crew might need a year or so to function properly together. The treatments in the Spa are of the high quality you would expect for the price, at least according to my wife. There even is a small climbing area right behind the hotel, although it just provides a handful of routes in very easy grades (4-6). But for the odd action before dinner it suffices.
From a location perspective it could not be better as Sautens is at the beginning of the Oetztal and thus it’s also easy to head for the motorway to the other climbing locations. Additionally the Ritzlerhof’s location is very quiet and far apart from the usual trouble in the Oetztal. Normally you cannot escape it, but with the Ritzlerhof you got the full package, great scenery, quiet surroundings, clean hotel area, the only problem might be that you probably prefer spending the days at the pool and not at the rocks….
- Nature Resort [Oetz | 160€] The Nature Resort is a bit different than the other hotels described here, it consists to a large extent of separate Chalets situated next to the Ache that flows behind the hotel. If you are sensitive to natures voices, particularly loud wild water, rather stay somewhere else, but if a rustic but very new environment in traditional Austrian style suits you, this is probably the best place to stay. Due to the open layout it doesn’t have the normal hotel-feeling, more like having your own little house and that includes a veranda…
- Hotel Bergwelt [Laengenfeld | 150€] This is a nice alternative. Newly renovated rooms, deeper in the Oetztal valley. Decent food, although not as good as in the Ritzlerhof. Very nice personell and a central location for the climbing locations Oberried, Tumpen and Engelswand mainly. For the other locations outside the Oetztal the Bergwelt might not be the best starting point as it takes around 30min to get out of the valley, depending on traffic. The only downside is the traffic from the nearby street, but that usually ends at 18h and starts not before 9h. So it should be ok for your dreamy nights. Just to be sure, take oropax with you.
- Landgasthof Lilie [Reutte | 110€] A cheaper alternative, very traditional, rather darker rooms in the Austrian style. Situated in a narrow sidearm of a valley, so I wouldn’t count on too much sun and surounded by alpine wood. But nevertheless, pretty relaxing. This is the location for the northern climbing areas around Reutte, like the Lechtal, Imst and the Western part of Tirol.
Where to eat
Not much to say here, most of the restaurants are pretty delicious. If you are in one of the higher up areas just try one of the Chalets. So just give it a try, most likely it will be great!
Where to climb
Climbing | Muttekopfhuette
Bouldering | Galtuer
Climbing | Starkenbach
Climbing | Reutte
Climbing | Oberried
Climbing | Engelswand