A Winter Karwendel Traverse: Tirol's Ultimate Challenge

A crossing on skis of the wildest national park in the Eastern Alps - Alpine adventures don't get much better than this!

Ski Touring Difficult, Severe

Heading up to the Mandlscharte, which is clearly visible in this photo.
Heading up to the Mandlscharte, which is clearly visible in this photo. Photo: Charlie Boscoe


There is some debate about whether the Karwendel is the largest uninhabited area in the Alps but it's an indisputably wild place which feels more akin to the vast spaces of the American West than to the bustle of an Alpine ski area. The Karwendel covers 727 square kilometres and saddles the Austro-German border just north of Innsbruck.

The Karwendel can be crossed by foot or bike relatively easily during the summer months but traversing it in winter - when no mountain huts are open and few people venture in to the range - is a completely different matter. The mountains tower above deserted valleys and few of the peaks have more than one skiable face, meaning that crossing from one valley to the next is extremely challenging.

In this guidebook we've provided a step by step guide of how to traverse the range from south to north, and there are also 2 suggested warmup/recce days described here. Both start from the Nordkette lift system, easily accessed from Innsbruck, and both will take you into the Karwendel and allow you to gain some up to date knowledge of conditions in the range.

When you've skied the 2 warmup days and feel happy with conditions, it's time to crack on with the main event - and what an adventure it is!

Routes included

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