Mountaineering & Expeditions

Highest Mountains In Austria | Top 10

Austria is famously home to some of the most impressive mountains in the world. From Grossglockner to Grosses Wiesbachhorn, this is a comprehensive guide to the country's 10 highest summits

They may not be as tall as those of neighbouring France or Switzerland but the highest mountains in Austria are still some of the most beautiful, breathtaking, and downright dangerous in all of Europe. The majority tower above 3,000m and many feature highly technical terrain that can present a significant challenge for even the most hardened of mountaineers and alpinists.

That said, due to their more manageable (albeit still massive) size, many of Austria’s highest mountains are ideal places for budding athletes to hone their skills and gain valuable experience. On the other hand, many intrepid explorers have met their end in the country’s mountain ranges, and peaks such as the Glocknerwand are well known for being extremely difficult to climb.

Keep reading to find out all about the 10 highest mountains in Austria, just how high they are and why you should, or possibly shouldn’t, give them a go yourself.

1. Grossglockner, 3,798m

Pictured: Austria’s tallest mountain, Grossglockner (Credit: Karsten Würth)

At not far off 4,000m, the Grossglockner is the highest mountain in Austria and the highest of the Alps east of the Brenner Pass. It lies on the border between Carinthia and Tyrol and its eastern slope is home to Austria’s most extended glacier. The first recorded ascent took place in 1800.

Surprisingly, the Grossglockner is also one of Austria’s most accessible mountains, thanks to the construction of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in 1935. The road spans 48km, snaking its way up the side of the mountain to an impressive height of 2,576m. If you want to go the rest of the way, you’ll have to put your boots on.

2. Wildspitze, 3,770m

Pictured: Wildspitze, Austria’s second tallest mountain (Credit: Wildspitze, Austria’s second tallest mountain Kauk0r)

Wildspitze, with its twin peaks and multiple glaciers, is the highest mountain in the Ötztal Alps and in North Tyrol. It sits on a ridge known as Weisskamm (white ridge), joining the main chain of the Alps.

Three sides of the mountain boast glaciers (the largest of which is the Taschachferner) and the north face is a popular spot for ice climbing. At the top of Wildspitze, the view is only inhibited by the curvature of the earth – anyone who makes it up there will be able to see as far away as the Finsteraarhorn in Switzerland.


3. Weisskugel, 3,739m

Pictured: Austria’s third highest mountain, Weisskugel (Credit: Getty Images)

Standing at 3,739m, the Weisskugel is the highest point of the frontier between Austria and Italy, and the second-highest mountain in the Ötztal Alps. It’s a stunning pyramid of rock and ice, marking the centre point where four ridges and glaciers meet.

Compared to its neighbour, Wildspitze, the Weisskugel isn’t very well known outside of the climbing community, even though many who’ve climbed both rank it as the better of the two. The first mountaineer to make the climb was Joseph Anton Specht along with three local guides in 1861. Several earlier attempts had been made but none were successful.

4. Glocknerwand, 3,721m

Pictured: Glocknerwand, standing with Grossglockner (Credit: Stefan Straub)

Sitting next to Austria’s mountain, the Grossglockner, the Glocknerwald may be smaller but it’s arguably much more dangerous. It’s a fan shaped mountain with huge rock faces to the southwest and northeast, both of which tower over 400m.

Towards the summit heavy snowdrifts are often present, making the ascent unpredictable and treacherous. For this reason, many consider it the most dangerous climb in the entire Glockner group.


5. Grossvenediger, 3,662m

Pictured: Grossvenediger, Austria’s fifth highest mountain (Credit: Getty Images)

Situated in the Hohe Tauren mountain range, the Grossvenediger is the main peak of the Venediger group at the border of Tyrol and Salzburg. The summit is covered by glaciers and was first reached in 1841, 40 years after the first ascent of the Grossglockner.

For many mountaineers in the region, the Grossvenediger served as their first high glacier mountain. All three climbs are relatively easy from a technical standpoint, but numerous crevasses pose a danger at certain times in the year.

6. Hinterer Brochkogel, 3,635m

Pictured: Hinterer Brochkogel, the sixth highest mountain in Austria (Credit: Kaukor)

Hinterer Brochkogel, located in the Ötztal Alps, is part of the Weiskamm group and has an elevation of 3,635m. The north ridge is popular with ice climbers, with a climbing ridge of up to 50° that offers good conditions for most of the year.

7. Hintere Schwarze, 3,628m

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Straddling the border between Austria and Italy, Hintere Schwarze is a partially glaciated mountain with distinct ridges spreading out to the north, east and southwest. It was first climbed in September 1867 by Ernst Pfeiffer from Vienna with the mountain guides Benedict Klotz and Josef Scheiber.

The mountain can only be reached via glaciers, many of which are riddled with crevasses and should only be crossed by experienced mountaineers.

8. Similaun, 3,606m

Pictured: Similaun, one of the tallest mountains in Austria (Credit: Helmut Liebelt)

Part of the Schnalskamm group on the Austrian-Italian border, the Similaun is a 3,606m mountain most famous for being the location where Ötzi the Iceman was discovered by Helmut Simon and Erika Simon in 1991.

Ötzi is Europe’s oldest known natural mummy, estimated to have lived sometime between 3350 and 3105 BC. An arrow embedded in his left shoulder has led historians to believe that he was murdered, right there on the slopes of the Similaun.

9. Vorderer Brochkogel, 3,565m

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Offering incredible views over the Ötztal Valley, Wildspitze and the Ortler Range, this 3,565m peak is a popular destination for budding mountaineers. The easiest route starts at the Breslauer Hut and follows the mountain’s natural line through a snowfield, with gradients rarely getting steeper than 45°.

10. Grosses Wiesbachhorn, 3,564m

Pictured: Grosses Wiesbachhorn, one of the tallest mountains in Austria (Credit: Tim Dennert)

Grosses Wiesbachhorn is an impressive mountain that has been described as a rival of the Grossglockner. In fact, it was long mistaken for the highest mountain in the Hohe Tauern within the mountaineering community. The normal route is relatively easy, making the mountain a popular destination for beginners.

During the first climb of the northwest face, ice screws were used for the first time by Fritz Rigele and Willo Welzenbach. The climbers used them to move forwards as opposed to belaying. Unfortunately, the northwest face they climbed has melted away now and can only be climbed in spring with good snow conditions.


Image of Glocknerwand used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Image of Hinterer Brochkogel used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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