A Gem in the Alps – The Hintertuxer Gletscher (Hintertux Glacier)

I haven’t been to many Glaciers it must be said, neither am I particularly well versed in the art of skiing. Recently a summer trip to Austria led me to come across this gem however, the Hintertux Glacier (or Hintertuxer Gletscher in German).

Hintertux Glacier

Photograph from the Hintertux Glacier by Larsjuh via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

This stunning glacier is located high up in the mountains in the Tux Alps, in a side valley that sprouts off from the popular Zillertal Valley. To say that this area is picturesque would be a true understatement. I visited in summer and was just as impressed with the scenery, being deep within the mountains at valley floor level, as I’m sure I would have been visiting during the winter season.

I arrived to visit the Hintertux on a beautiful sunny summer’s day. Many people were heading up on the tracks to walk up to the various stations located on the way up to the glacier. The Hintertux is lucky in that it enjoys a thriving tourist industry all year round, with hiking during the summer months and being able to ski all year round, snow levels permitting.

For those who are not so inclined to ascend a thousand metres on foot to a cable car station before heading to the top, there is a cable car located at the valley floor. A series of cable cars can take you all the way to the top, only requiring you to get off and join a different cable car at a few positions up the mountainside. These intervals provide a great opportunity to get out, stretch your legs, grab some food or drink and take in the views.

In the lower cable cars you are literally skimming across the grassy knolls and tree tops as you gain altitude. If you’re lucky you may see Alpine Marmots on these slopes nearer the valley floor. As you ascend from station to station you will notice the dramatic difference in scenery with the valley floor distant and the cable car hovering above sharp pinnacles of rock, some of which are snow capped!

Photograph of the early Hintertux climb by Apostolos via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Photograph of the early Hintertux climb by Apostolos via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Reaching the top of the Hintertux you are rewarded with stunning 360° views of the surrounding Alps. More often than not you’re above low cloud and can see for miles on a good day. The glacier itself features snow almost all year round and can be used by skiers in the summer months. Often you will find that the Hintertux staff have fun rubber ring courses which tourists can ride on too. At 3250 metres it’s one of the highest places I’ve ever been without being in an aeroplane! As a result it gets really cold up there even in the summer months, so be warned. If you’re visiting go prepared, I took a hat made from cosy wool, some ski gloves and sunglasses as essentials with a number of ‘sensible’ layers too.

If you’re in the region and looking for a great day out then the Hintertux Glacier is an excellent option no matter the time of year. Different pass options are available for non skiers and hikers during the summer and you can view those on the Hintertux Gletscher website here.