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Austria's West: The Rätikon





If you follow the Rhine valley upstream, you will eventually reach Bludenz, the gateway to the Rätikon. The mountain range of the Rätikon is enframed by the Rhine in the West, the Ill in the North and the Silvretta in the East. The southern border is formed by the Landquart, which is already in Switzerland. Many people will be disappointed, that none of the Rätikon's peaks reaches the 3000m and only one small glacier, the Brandner Gletscher, exists in this area. But these circumstances might turn out to be big advantages for the hiker: almost every mountain can easily be reached without crampons and/or ice axe and the "hardcore" alpinists rather prefer other regions, e.g. the neighbouring Silvretta or the Bernina in Switzerland. So the Rätikon is the ideal region for alpine tours and climbs even for the beginner - the next logical step after a warm-up in the Bregenzerwald.

General Information
Weather
Maps
 
Travel Information
How to get there
Travelling in the area
Accommodation
Activities
Hiking
Outdoor Sports
 
Specials
Things you shouldn't miss...
Things you shouldn't do...
 
please note: most of the information presented here is the same as for the Bregenzerwald.

General Information
- Vorarlberg Tourism
- Vorarlberg Online

Weather
- Vorarlberg Online Weather
- Swiss Weather from Neue Zürcher Zeitung
- Yahoo! Weather for Bregenz
- Weather forecast for Vorarlberg by alpin.de
- Alpine weather forecast for the Rätikon by bergwetter.de (choose "Rätikon" in the menu. German only)

Maps
Traditionally, Austria is not really famous for its maps. And Vorarlberg is unfortunately not even covered by the maps of the Deutscher Alpenverein -apart from the Silvretta-, although it borders Switzerland and Germany. Consequently, the best maps - apart from the excellent Swiss Maps (No. 1156 & 1157, 1:25.000) - available are from Kompass and Freytag & Berndt. For the Rätikon, I can recommend the former, "Nr. 32 Bludenz Schruns Klostertal", which is pretty reliable. For more detailed information on the tours, please try the respective Alpenvereinführer, Bergverlag Rother, "Rätikon".
- Area Map from National Geographic
- Simple Map with City Infos by bsz
- Map northern part of the Rätikon area by multimap
- Map (1:250.000) (283k) of Vorarlberg by Freytag & Berndt
- Map (1:50.000) (72k) of the tour to the Schesaplana
- Map (1:50.000) (50k) of the tour to the Saulakopf

Travel Information

How to get there
Vorarlberg is well connected with Germany via the A96 (D) and the Rheintal Autobahn A14 (A). If you are coming from Switzerland, you can choose the highway N1 coming from St. Gallen or the N13 from Chur. From the East, Vorarlberg is accessed pretty easily via the S16 using the Arlbergtunnel. Remember, that Austrian and Swiss highways require a Vignette, which can be bought at the respective border or gas stations on your way. Train connections are unfortunately not as well, but at least they do exist: from Lindau (D), St. Gallen and Chur (CH) and Innsbruck (A) Bregenz can be reached, from there it is recommended to proceed to Bludenz.

Travelling in the area
Without a car, many areas in the Rätikon will be hard to reach. Although you can take the busses operating in the area, this option is not really one. They operate rather seldom and depending on the season, they will not operate at all. Fortunately Brand, at the end of the Brandner Tal, is rather well connected to Bludenz and forms a good starting point for the tours described here.

If you want to start to your trips from the Lünersee, you can use the Lünerseebahn (+43(5556)72444), which operates from June till October on a daily basis (one way ticket 3,85-4,25 euro, two way 6,45-7,15 euro).
- Vorarlberg Tourism
- information on road conditions by the ÖAMTC

Accommodation
Once you are in the mountains, camping usually won't be a problem: just put up a tent some hundred meters away from the next trail, ask the land owner if available and enjoy :-) In case you want a little more comfort, Brand and the surrounding small villages will offer you a big variety of hotels, Pensionen and private rooms. Personally, I can highly recommend the Pension Tuklar in Brand. They offer a room with breakfast for just 20 euros per person, and if required, you can rent a complete little flat there, too. For further info, call +43(05559)303 or send a mail to info@tuklar.com. Check out -again- Vorarlberg Tourism for a database based Online Booking facility. For the hiker who wants to walk from hut to hut, the Rätikon has of course a very good infrastructure, e.g. the Douglasshütte at the Lünersee (1.976m, summer only), the Totalphütte (2.385m, summer only) and the Mannheimer Hütte (2.679m, summer only) in the Schesaplana area or the Heinrich-Hueter-Hütte (1.766m, summer only) for access to Saulajoch or to the Zimba. If you want to visit Drusenfluh and Sulzfluh from the north, the Lindauer Hütte (1.744m, summer only) is a good choice.
- Vorarlberg Tourism
- for more info on the huts in the area, try the OeAV
- Douglasshütte, 1.976, AV-Info
- Totalphütte, 2.385m, AV-Info


Activities
The Rätikon covers "just" 400 square km, but offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities: climbing on the south faces of Sulzfluh and Drusenfluh or on the "Matterhorn" of Vorarlberg, the Zimba. Hiking to Schafgafall, Schesaplana, Saulakopf and the Drei Türme. Mountain biking in the valleys, fishing in the lakes (permit required). The higher peaks can usually be accessed easily with the usual equipment from June till October, even if you cross the Brandner Gletscher, which is said to be crevasse-free.

Hiking
If you bring snow shoes or small ski, you can make wonderful tours in spring. But once a trail is formed in the snow fields, the hiker can access Schesaplana, Sulzfluh and Drusenfluh, too. And in late summer, the trails will all be snow free. So it is up to you, what you prefer.....I enjoyed late spring and early summer the most.
- Webcam: From Parsenn/Weissfluhjoch towards Schesaplana
-
Tour: From the Douglasshütte (1.976m) to the Schesaplana (2.965m)
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Tour: From the Douglasshütte (1.976m) to the Saulakopf (2.517m)

Outdoor Sports
Climbing is probably the other very attractive outdoor sport in the area. The famous Zimba offers routes from III to V, the Drusentürme from III to VI and the south faces of Drusenfluh and Sulzfluh allow climbing of almost every degree - higher than V. Refer to the Alpenvereinsführer "Rätikon" for further information.

Specials

...things you shouldn't miss!
Good food and beautiful landscapes can hardly be missed here, there's plenty of it. If you were lucky to climb the Schesaplana while it was still covered with snow, try to slide its slopes down on your bottom...but be aware of rocks and the Totalpsee, right at the Totalphütte.

...things you shouldn't do!
Please don't expect to be on your own here during peak season. Brandner Tal and Montafon are tourist hot spots and the many cable railways not only allow the hiker and alpinist a quick and easy ascent, but also crowds of "normal" tourists, kids and elderly people. If you want to avoid this, wait until winter.....

last revision: Monday, August 11, 2003 copyright www.therucksack.net