Ortler Alps

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Ortler Alps
Ortler group
Highest peak Ortler ( 3905  m slm )
location Italy (provinces of Bozen-South Tyrol , Brescia , Sondrio , Trient ) and Switzerland ( Canton of Graubünden )
part of Central Alps / Southern Alps
Classification according to AVE 48a
Coordinates 46 ° 31 '  N , 10 ° 33'  E Coordinates: 46 ° 31 '  N , 10 ° 33'  E
rock Limestone and quartz phyllite

The Ortler Alps , also Ortler group , Italian Gruppo Ortles-Cevedale , are a mountain group of the Eastern Alps in northern Italy and the bordering Switzerland . The Italian provinces of Bolzano-South Tyrol , Trento , the Lombardy provinces of Sondrio and Brescia as well as the Swiss canton of Graubünden have a share in the Ortler Alps . The majority of the group is located in South Tyrol - including the highest peak , the Ortler , which with a height of 3905  m slm is also the highest mountain in the Tyrol region and makes the group the second highest in the Eastern Alps after the Bernina group .

Concept history

The two terms Ortler Group and Ortler Alps (each also used without a hyphen) have been used in parallel in the German-speaking area since the 19th century, sometimes as synonyms, sometimes with varying meanings. The mountain group classification published by Josef Moriggl in 1924 ( Moriggl classification ) used the term Ortler group for a very large area. The Alpine Club Division of the Eastern Alps ( AVE ), published in 1984 and followed by this article, dissolved this large group and established the Ortler-Alps and Sobretta-Gavia group, which are separate from each other .

Various other deviations with regard to the scope of the Ortler-Alps / Ortler group can also be found in the literature. The attribution of the areas in Switzerland ( Umbrail group , Fallaschkamm), which are typically assigned to the Graubünden Alps , has always been controversial . In isolated cases, however, the Nonsberg group with Laugen and Mendelkamm is seen as part of the Ortler Alps / Ortler group .


The Ortler Alps are tectonically assigned to the Central Alps , as they lie north of the geological fault of the Tonale line, but in a general regional geographic sense they belong to the southern Eastern Alps (Southern Alps) because they are south of the longitudinal valley furrow Valtellina (Adda) - Vinschgau (Etsch) are located. In terms of mountaineering, the Ortler main ridge is one of the southern limestone Alps . According to the Alpine Club division of the Eastern Alps (AVE), the group is limited as follows:

With the exception of the Umbrail Group and the Fallaschkamm, which are completely or partially located in Switzerland, the Ortler Alps are entirely on Italian territory.

According to the Suddivisione orografica internazionale unificata del Sistema Alpino ( SOIUSA ) of French-Italian literature, the entire Ortler Alps with their western, southern and northern neighbors belong to the Rhaetian Alps (Sezione 28 Alpi Retiche Meridionali ).


Umbrail group

The Umbrail Group is located northwest of the Umbrail Pass . The group is rarely visited, only the Piz Umbrail ( 3032  m ) near the pass is climbed more often .

Fallaschkamm (Costainas-, Chavalatschkamm)

Map from 1878
Aerial view of the Ortler Alps, with Ortler (top center), Monte Cevedale (right center) and Punta San Matteo (left, lower center)

The Fallaschkamm (also called Costainas - or Chavalatschkamm ) separates the Val Müstair in the west from the Trafoital and lower Suldental in the east. The border between the canton of Graubünden and South Tyrol runs along the ridge, starting from the Stilfser Joch . More frequently climbed peaks are the Glurnser Köpfl , with a height of 2401  m slm the northern end towards Glurns and the Vinschgau, as well as the Piz Chavalatsch and the Dreisprachenspitze .

Ortler main ridge

The main ridge of the group (also known as the crystal ridge in the western part ) leads from Bormio and the Stilfser Joch in a wide arch that opens to the west, initially to the east and later (from this point also called the Cevedale-Vioz ridge ) to the south and south-west , where it ends at the Gavia Pass and Tonale Pass . Several side ridges branch off from this ridge and are separated from one another by deep valleys. Significant peaks directly in the main ridge or somewhat upstream are the Hohe Schneide , the Monte Scorluzzo , the Monte Livrio , the Tuckettspitze , the Trafoier Eiswand , the Thurwieserspitze , the Monte Zebrù , the Königspitze , the Suldenspitze , the Zufallspitzen , the Cevedale , the Monte Pasquale , the Palòn de la Mare , the Monte Vioz , the Punta San Matteo , the Pizzo Tresero and the Corno dei Tre Signori .

The Ortler itself and the Tabarettaspitze are located on a short side ridge that branches off to the north on Monte Zebrù, which separates the Trafoital and the Suldental . Monte Confinale lies on a side ridge that branches off to the south at the Königspitze and later leads to the west .

Lasa Mountains

The Lasa Mountains (in parts also called Laas-Marteller Kamm ) branch off to the northeast at the Suldenspitze on the Ortler main ridge and form an important, in turn subdivided group. First, a ridge that is only slightly glaciated and on which the Hintere Schöntaufspitze is located leads to the Schildspitze . There the ridge divides into two branches that enclose the Laaser Tal , a side valley of the Vinschgau. The most important elevations of the branch leading directly to the north are the Vertainspitze , the Hohe Angelus and the Tschenglser Hochwand , while the Mittlere Pederspitze , the Laaser Spitze and the Jennwand are located in the branch leading to the northeast, bordering the Martell valley .

Access comb

The Zufrittkamm is named after the Zufrittspitze and branches off at the random peaks from the Ortler main ridge towards the northeast. Over a distance of 45 km, it first separates the Martell Valley from Val di Peio and Val di Rabbi , later the Martell Valley from the Ultental and finally the Vinschgau from the Ultental, until it ends in the Merano area . After its boundary valleys , it is therefore sometimes called the Marteller-Ultener Kamm or Vinschgau-Ultener Kamm , the section between the Fürkelescharte in the west and the Hasenöhrl in the east is also known as the Marteller Hauptkamm . In addition to the Zufrittspitze, important peaks in the Zufrittkamm are the Köllkuppe , the Veneziaspitzen , the Hintere Rotspitze , the Lorchenspitze , the Hasenöhrl , the Hohe Dieb and the Naturnser Hochwart .

Careser comb

At the Hinteren Rotspitze, the Careser ridge branches off from the Zufritt ridge to the south, which slopes down towards the Val di Sole . On this route it separates the Val di Peio from the Val di Rabbi . The Cima Careser rises as the most important peak .


The Ilmenkamm is named after the Ilmenspitze towering in the middle and branches off from the Zufrittkamm at the Lorchenspitze . The course leads first to the southeast, later to the east and finally to the northeast. On the north side the Ilmenkamm delimits the Ultental , on the south side short side ridges branch off to the Val di Sole and Nonstal . The highest peak of the ridge is the Hintere Eggenspitze in the Ultner Talschluss, as a result it gradually loses height and after the Ultner Hochwart falls over the last elevations of the Schöngrubspitze , the Großer and the Kleiner Kornigl to the Hofmahdjoch .


The main ridge carries by far the highest and most famous peaks of the group, the Ortler and Königspitze dominating the Sulden Valley , and the Monte Cevedale . In total, there are around 25 peaks over 3500  m and more than 100 three-thousand-meter peaks in the Ortler Alps . Most of the peaks are listed in the Alpine Club Guide with two different height specifications, one based on the old German-Austrian survey (at least partially from 1854) and one based on the newer Italian one. The two height specifications differ by a few meters, which cannot be explained purely from the different reference systems.

Corno dei Tre Signori (3,360 m) from Lake Ercavallo
Zufrittspitze (3,439 m) from the Vinschgau
Madritschspitze (3,265 m) from the Zufállhütte
(different Italian name)
Ortler ( Ortles ) 3905  m slm 3899  m above sea level A.
Königspitze ( Gran Zebrù ) 3851  m slm 3859  m above sea level A.
Monte Cevedale 3769  m slm 3778  m above sea level A.
Monte Zebrù 3735  m slm 3740  m above sea level A.
Palon de la Mare 3703  m slm 3708  m above sea level A.
Punta San Matteo 3678  m slm  
Thurwieserspitze ( Punta Thurwieser) 3652  m slm  
Monte Vioz 3645  m slm  
Pizzo Tresero 3594  m slm 3602  m above sea level A.
Trafoier ice wall 3565  m slm 3563  m above sea level A.
Monte Pasquale 3553  m slm  
Vertainspitze ( Cima Vertana ) 3545  m slm 3541  m above sea level A.
High angelus 3521  m slm 3536  m above sea level A.
Shield tip 3461  m slm 3468  m above sea level A.
Tuckettspitze ( Cima Tuckett ) 3462  m slm 3466  m above sea level A.
Rear Eggenspitze ( Cima Sternai ) 3443  m slm  
Zufrittspitze ( Gioveretto ) 3439  m slm 3438  m above sea level A.
Veneziaspitze ( Cima Venezia ) 3386  m slm  
Tschenglser Hochwand ( Croda di Cengles ) 3375  m slm 3373  m above sea level A.
Monte Confinale 3370  m slm  
Corno dei Tre Signori 3360  m slm  
Rear Rotspitze ( Cima Rossa di Saent ) 3347  m slm  
Köllkuppe ( Cima Marmotta ) 3330  m slm 3327  m above sea level A.
Rear Schöntaufspitze 3325  m slm 3324  m above sea level A.
Laaser tip (also organ tip ) 3305  m slm 3304  m above sea level A.
Hasenöhrl ( l'Orecchia di Lepre ) 3257  m slm 3256  m above sea level A.
Monte Scorluzzo 3094  m slm  
Piz Umbrail   3032  m above sea level M.
Jennwand 2962  m slm 2958  m above sea level A.
Trilingual peak   2843  m above sea level M.
Piz Chavalatsch   2763  m above sea level M.
Glurnser Köpfl 2401  m slm  

Glaciers and bodies of water


Random peaks and Monte Cevedale (from left to right)
Veneziaspitze with Schranferner, Ultenmarktferner and Hohenferner (from left to right)

The Ortler Alps are a heavily glaciated group of Alps, the strongest glaciations show the crystal ridge to the north to the Stilfser Joch, the Monte Cevedale with its plateau and the glaciers to the Martell valley and the Forno basin to the northwest. In total, the group has around 100 glaciers.

The Forno basin, which stretches in a wide arc over almost 20 km from Pizzo Tresero to Palòn de la Mare (and on to Monte Cevedale ) and encloses the Valle dei Forni in its north, is essentially covered by a single glacier, the Forni Filled glacier ( Ghiacciaio dei Forni ). The Forni Glacier is the largest glacier in the Ortler Alps and one of the largest glaciers in the Eastern Alps. It has also been affected by the general retreat of the glaciers since the middle of the 19th century and is polluted with microplastics . 74 plastic particles were found per kilogram of ice; projected 131 to 162 million in the entire glacier. The main cause is the functional textiles used by tourists.

The glacier ski area south of the Stilfser Joch uses the Ebenferner ( Vedretta Piana ) and the Vedretta del Cristallo . The following larger glaciers also flow on the north side of the Kristallkamm:

  • Madatschferner ( Vedretta del Madaccio )
  • Nasal horn remover ( Vedretta del Naso )
  • Lower and Upper Ortlerferner ( Vedretta Bassa and Vedretta Alta dell 'Ortles )
  • Suldenferner ( Vedretta di Solda ) on the east side from Ortler, Zebrù and Königspitze to the Eisseepass

The ice sheet of the Cevedale and the Random Peaks is formed by the following glaciers:

  • Vedretta di Cedec to the northwest
  • Langenferner ( Vedretta Lunga )
  • Random distant ( Vedretta del Cevedale )
  • Fürkelferner ( Vedretta del Forcola )
  • Vedretta de la Mare to the southeast

The flat Vedretta di Careser (Moosferner) south of the Veneziaspitze and the Hinteren Rotspitze are somewhat isolated from these large areas of glaciated areas . On the north side of the Marteller main ridge that starts here, there are still a few smaller glaciers.

The Laaser Ferner ( Vedretta di Laas ) is located far away in the Lasa Mountains .


The Ortler Alps are drained by the Adda and Oglio rivers in the west and south, and by the Adige and its tributary Nonsbach in the north, east and south-east. The Adda and the Oglio flow into the Po , the Etsch flows directly into the Adriatic . The Ortler Alps thus form the watershed between the Po and the Adige, from the Stilfser Joch over the ridge of the Fornokessel to the Tonale Pass. Trafoier and Suldenbach , the Laaser Bach , in the Martell Valley the Plima and in the Ultental the Falschauer drain the north-facing valleys into the Adige.

The rivers are partially dammed and used for electricity generation.


In the crystalline part of the Ortler Alps there are always isolated smaller lakes. In the Ultental alone, in addition to the reservoirs mentioned above, around 10 other natural lakes are mentioned as hiking destinations. In the upper Saent valley below the Hinteren Eggenspitze there are several small lakes called Laghetti di Sternai . Lago Marmotta and Lago Lungo lie in the Val di Mare above the Cevedale hut , the two Laghi del Confinale in the Confinale ridge at over 2900 meters, and finally Lago Bianco at the Gaviapass .


The Zufrittsee is a reservoir in the Martell Valley at an altitude of 1850 m. The reservoir was built between 1950 and 1956 and is fed and traversed by the Plima . The associated hydropower plant is in Laas .

Zoggler reservoir

In the Ulten Valley there are a number of reservoirs with smaller power plants (see hydropower plants in Ulten Valley ). At the end of the valley at an altitude of 2529 m lies the Grünsee , one after the other out of the valley at 1872 m the Weißbrunnsee , at 1137 m the Zoggler reservoir and at 804 m the Pankrazer See . The Arzkarsee lies high above the Ultental and east below the Hasenöhrl at an altitude of 1906 m.

In the south of the group, the two reservoirs Lago del Careser at 2603 m and Lago Pian Palù at 1800 m feed the hydropower plant in Cogolo in the Peio Valley.


The main peaks of the Ortler Alps, Ortler, Zebrù and Königspitze consist of dolomite and limestone , which is deposited in crystalline form as a 1000 meter thick sediment layer of the Central Alpine Mesozoic on the Veltliner base . This corresponds to the Ötztal and Silvretta crystalline and belongs to the East Alpine old crystalline. This occurs over a large area as quartz phyllite , in the angelus group also as orthogneiss . Under these gneisses and Quarzphylliten come on the side Laas Phyllitgneise with intercalations of amphibolites , and especially marble trains to light. These provide the famous Lasa marble , which is mined in several quarries. In the Jennwand , the marble lying flat in the valley forms impressive fold structures.



In addition to the usual game such as roe deer , chamois and red deer , ibex have been released in the national park . Marmots can be found quite often on the south side of the Confinalekamm and in Rabbital, but otherwise rarely. The name of the lake Lago Marmotta (Italian : marmotta : marmot) at an altitude of 2704 m in the rear Peio valley also indicates significant occurrences. The brown hare can be found all the way up to the alpine pastures , and the snow hare occasionally at higher altitudes . The distribution area of ​​the snow mouse extends to the edge of the glacier. On carnivorous mammals, the red fox is occasionally found in the lower layers and up high up the weasel .

The Ortler Alps have low stocks of golden eagles , owls , ravens and capercaillie on something are often grouse and Rock Partridge and more often the ptarmigan found. Alpine swifts , dipper , white wagtail , snow sparrow and alpine brownelle can be observed in strongly changing frequencies. In the streams romp grayling , brown trout and marbled trout . Among invertebrates, the German scorpion ( Euscorpius germanus ) and the glacier flea, which find their habitat on the glaciers of the Ortler Alps, should be mentioned.


one of the Sternai lakes, Scheuchzer's cotton grass

The forest is thicker on the north side of the mountains and extends higher than on the sparsely wooded south and west side. In the Martell valley the upper tree line is over 2000 m, stone pines and fir trees reach the highest heights here. Despite the sparse forest cover, the south side does not have that inner-alpine dry vegetation that is typical for the south-facing slopes of the Vinschgau ( Sonnenberg ). On slopes with crystalline soil grows the green alder , to the tree line they often replaces the less frequently occurring in the Ortler Alps mountain pine . Several types of monkshood prefer the crystalline subsoil, where they are often associated with green alder.

From the tree line, gentian and alpine rose dominate , the yellow alpine pasque flower (sulfur anemone), the glacier buttercup and the red primrose are striking . The edelweiss , on the other hand, is rare. Scheuchzer's cotton grass dominates the area of ​​the raised bogs.

The nival level is characterized by lichens and mosses, occasionally species of man's shield and saxifrage , the glacier buttercup and some gentian species grow .


For centuries, the Ortler Alps formed the German-Italian language border . This runs between the Italian-speaking Trentino in the south and the almost completely German-speaking South Tyrol in the east and north until 1918. In the communities of Proveis , Laurein and Our Lady in the Walde-St. Felix in the Non Valley in the southeast of the group was and still is a predominantly German-speaking majority of the population, while the Val di Sole was already inhabited by Italian.

The area of ​​today's Trentino came under the strong influence of the Counts of Tyrol at an early stage and in 1803, as a result of the secularization of the Principality of Trento, it was completely subordinated to the Princely House of the Habsburgs . The ridge line of the Ortler group from the Stilfser Joch to the Tonale Pass to the west was, however, the political border between the Habsburg Empire and Lombardy for many centuries . With the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Lombardy also came under Austrian rule. This lasted until the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859.

During this time, the militarily motivated construction of the Stilfser-Joch-Straße, which was completed in 1825, took place.

The mountaineering development of the Ortler Alps began in 1804 with the first ascent of the Ortler by Josef Pichler, commonly known as "Pseirer-Josele". From 1865 to 1868 Julius Payer carried out cartographic recordings of the Ortler area, he climbed 50 peaks with Johann Pinggera , including many for the first time ( Monte Cevedale ). The Payerhütte was built in his honor in 1875, as was the Schaubachhütte in the same year . In 1922 the last hut was rebuilt with the high Casati hut.

In the early 1930s, Hans Ertl succeeded in making the first ascent of the north faces of Königspitze (1930) and Ortler (1931 with Franz Schmid ).

In the mountain war of 1915–1918 of the First World War, the Italian front ran over the mountains of the Ortler Alps, where it reached its highest position with the Ortler position.

With the Treaty of Saint-Germain , South Tyrol and Trentino and with it the Ortler Alps fell to Italy.

National parks

The Stilfserjoch National Park and the Swiss National Park are located in the Ortler Alps area . The Stilfserjoch National Park, founded in 1935, encompasses almost the entire Italian part of the Ortler Alps with the exception of the Ulten Valley from St. Gertraud out of the valley, including the ridges that surround the valley. The Swiss National Park in the canton of Graubünden directly adjoins the western part of the Umbrail Group.



Bivouac boxes

  • Capanna Battaglione Ortles , 3130  m slm between Passo Dosegù and Pizzo di Val Umbrina
  • Bivacco Giancarlo Colombo , 3485  m slm between Col de la Mare and Monte Ròsole
  • Hochjoch bivouac ( Bivacco Città di Cantù ), 3535  m slm on the Hochjoch
  • Bivacco Giampaolo Del Piero , 3180  m slm on the ridge between Monte Confinale and Cima della Manzina
  • Bivacco Francesco Meneghello , 3340  m slm at Colle degli Orsi
  • Bivacco Ninotta , 3380  m slm between Tucketpass and Hintere Madatschspitze
  • Bivacco Leone Pellicioli , 3230  m slm south ridge of the Fernerkogel
  • Bivacco Provolino , 3051  m slm west of the Passo dell'Ables
  • Bivacco Séveso , 3398  m slm on the southwest ridge of Pizzo Tresero
  • Tablander Warter ( Schwarze-Biwak , Bivacco Schwarzer ), 2610  m slm Zufrittkamm, above Lake Falkomaisee
  • Tschirfeck bivouac ( Bivacco Vittorio Lombardi ), 3316  m slm Ortlernordgrat

Winter sports

Well-known winter sports resorts around the Ortler Alps are Bormio, Santa Caterina Valfurva , Sulden and, in the south, the Peiotal. There is a glacier ski area on the Stilfser Joch which is actually only open in summer due to the winter closure of the pass road. The Ortler Alps are a popular ski touring area , so many of the huts are also open in spring.

Literature and maps

  • Gino Buscaini: Guida dei monti d'Italia: Ortles-Cevedale. Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio . Club Alpino Italiano- Touring Club Italiano , Milan 1984.
  • Peter Holl: Alpine Club Guide Ortleralpen . Bergverlag Rudolf Rother , Munich 1990, ISBN 3-7633-1313-3 .
  • Julius Payer : The Central Ortler Alps (areas: Martell, Laas and Saent). In addition to an appendix on the Adamello-Presanella Alps . Justus Perthes, Gotha 1872.
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco , carta topografica 1: 25.000, sheet 08, Ortles-Cevedale / Ortler area . 1988 edition.
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco, carta topografica 1: 25,000, sheet 42, Ultental / Val d'Ultimo
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco, carta topografica 1: 25,000, sheet 44, Vinschgau - Sesvenna / Val Venosta
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco, carta topografica 1: 25.000, sheet 45, Latsch - Martell - Schlanders / Laces - Val Martello - Silandro
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco, carta topografica 1: 25.000, sheet 48, Val di Peio - Val di Rabbi - Val di Sole
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco, carta topografica 1: 25.000, sheet 64, Val di Non - Le Maddalene - Cles - Roén - Mendola
  • Casa Editrice Tabacco, carta topografica 1: 25.000, sheet 69, Livigno - Bormio - Passo del Bernina

Web links

Commons : Ortler Alps  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Peter Holl: Alpine Club Guide Ortleralpen
  2. Alpine association division of the Eastern Alps
  3. Sergio Marazzi: La “Suddivisione orografica internazionale unificata del Sistema Alpino” (SOIUSA) , Club Alpino Italiano - BiblioCai ( web document , pdf 1.6 MB)
  4. a b c d e illustration based on Hanspaul Menara and Josef Rampold : South Tyrolean mountain tours . Athesia, Bozen 1976, pp. 114-125
  5. Fornokessel at www.alpen-panoramen.de
  6. Environmental pollution: mountain tourists leave millions of plastic particles on the glacier. In: luzernerzeitung.ch . April 10, 2019, accessed April 11, 2019 .
  7. http://www.ultental-valdultimo.com/seen/index.html
  8. Laas power plant at the Tecneum technology museum
  9. Dr. Ernst Ott: On the geology of the Ortler Alps , in Peter Holl: Alpine Club Guide Ortler Alps
  10. Enlargement of the geological overview map of the Republic of Austria 1: 1,500,000 (PDF; 20.5 MB), accessed on August 1, 2018