When the ice grows thinner....

Ice Faces

Every truly passionate Alpinist hopes to list a few great ice climbs in his/her tour book. Finding impressive, high walls of ice has become more difficult in the Alps, as climate change is taking its toll. Larger blocks of ice have become rare, but we know where to find them.

Eyes of fire facing a wall of ice - the north face

The north face is more than a mountain wall. It is the unmistakable face of a true mountaineer: forever tanned, with leathery skin, a pointy nose, a wrinkled forehead and laughter lines around the eyes - eyes burning with a passion for more, always looking up, striving for higher aims. Maybe you will encounter a true north face. They have become rare, too, like the icy walls they strive to conquer.

Where to find such north faces? Well, mostly climbing on north faces, of course, but occasionally also on southern walls - that's where they get their tan. North faces, those truly passionate mountaineers, climb up steep walls of rock and ice. These climbs are the ultimate accomplishment for a mountaineer - a high mountain area tour deluxe. A vertical high mountain tour.

The Margrave's 2500 steps

Margrave Palavicini initiated the carving of well over 2,500 steps into the famous Grossglockner ice rut named after him. Some of them he carved himself in August, 1876. He didn't have an ice prick or crampons like today's. His crampons even lacked the essential front teeth. Palavicini was accompanied by three local guides who did most of the incredible work on the massive wall of ice, which was then 600m high and 55° steep. In the end, Palavicini carried off all the bays because he had initiated the construction of this icy passage at Austria's highest mountain. The Palavicini tour used to be one of the greatest ice tours in the Eastern Alps. Climate change, however, has reduced the ice, causing the tour to change from a summer event into a (late) winter challenge.

At the top of the wall

Our Faszination Berg - Fascinating Mountain Worlds team has many great ideas. What can we offer you? Are you interested in mastering Montblanc's Brenva flank? The Aiguille Verte? It is considered the most difficult mountain to climb in the Montblanc massif. Alternatively, opt for the north face of the Hochferner, of mount Ortles, or choose the draw at the Cima Tosa in the Brenta massif. These are all worthy destinations which offer memorable challenges to ambitious climbers. These climbs will make your hearts beat, your thighs burn, and sweat beads appear on your forehead. And they'll be well worth it. We'll take you there, and we'll take you up. Once we reach the top, the deed is done - unless, of course, there is a cornice we first need to dig through. Coming up out of the shade into sunlight, almost close enough to touch the sky, coming up out of the ice and old snow, ice screws dangling at your belt, you, too, will wear a north face for a moment.

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Günther Ausserhofer
Mountain guide
Dorfstrasse 29
I-39030 Luttach
Mobil: +39 347 4138336

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