Sciora peaks, Graubünden. From left to right: Sciora Dafora, Punta Pioda, Ago di Sciora (the needle), Sciora Dadent. Credit: Samedan,  Shot on 2009-08-27 Photo taken in val Bondasca, Bodno, Graubunden, Switzerland.Licensed under: Public Domain.
Sciora peaks, Graubünden. From left to right: Sciora Dafora, Punta Pioda, Ago di Sciora (the needle), Sciora Dadent. Credit: Samedan, Shot on 2009-08-27 Photo taken in val Bondasca, Bodno, Graubunden, Switzerland.Licensed under: Public Domain.

About the Alps

The Alps are the dominant range of Europe. Although The Alps contain 'only' Peaks over 4000m in the Alps and are thus not very high in comparison with Himalayas or Andes, the Alps are steep and feature extensive glaciation. The Alps are a wide and convoluted crescent of ranges and peaks arching to the north of the Italian Peninsula, from the Julian Alps of Slovenia on the east to the Maritime Alps of the South of France on the west.

Image file: ../resources/images/alps.svg
European Alps overview map generated from OpenStreetMap data with Maperitive (MapQuest OSM) to png-file. Alps division overlay created by Ari Paulin as svg. Credit: Ari Paulin, Shot on 2015-06-21 Photo taken.Licensed under: Public Domain.
  • Western Alps Groups located to the west of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.
    • Southwestern Alps Groups located to the west of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.
    • Northwestern Alps Groups located to the west of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.
  • Eastern Alps Groups located to the east of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Eastern Alps consist of numerous mountain groups and sub groups. Generally Eastern Alps are lower in altitude and not as steep is statue as the Western Alps. Therefore, they are internationally less famous and. There are however, few notable exceptions, particularly Dolomites.
    • intro
    • Central Eastern Alps West from the Bernina and Central Alps and between Northern and Southern ranges lie Central Eastern Alps, that consist of several mountain groups from. Western groups are glaciated, some of them excessively so. The area is best known for high-quality snow and ice climbing and ski-mountaineering. However, most areas feature good rock climbing, especially on the rocky towers of Zillertaler Alps. The most famous mountains of the area is Grossglockner (3798m) in Hohe Tauern. Further to the east, mountains are much lower and not glaciated.
    • South Eastern Alps Southern Eastern Alps are located mainly in Italy and Slovenia with northern parts reaching into southern Austria. The area consist of groups of very different character: where Ortler Group furthest to the West has high mountains with excessive glacier and mostly snow and ice climbs, Dolomites and and Julian Alps further to the east are much lower and are well known for rock climbs.

Climbing in the Alps

General

Because the Alps are heavily glaciated, classic mountaineering is found on all higher ranges, both in Western and Eastern Alps. Highest mountains are concentrated mainly in Mant Blanc Massif, Pennine Alps and Bernese Alps. Classic mountaineering routes are also found in abundance in Ecrins massif and in Bernina Alps. Every type of climbing is found on these areas. Besides classic mountain routes, all of these areas have also wealth of difficult ice and mixed routes. These areas are well known among the climbers and more popular routes can get crowded during the summer months.

Good quality rock climbing is found all over the Alps. Most famous area is probably Dolomites in the northern Italy. Generally speaking the southern areas profit from warmer and often more stable weather, so they are well suited for rock climbing.

Alpine ice and mixed routes are concentrated in the high mountain areas. Also Austrian Alps have several worthwhile alpine ice routes, especially in Hohe Tauern. Alps also feature very good ice fall climbing on many areas. Best-known areas are Oisans aux six Vallees in Dauphin/Graian Alps (La Grave, Cogne) and Mont Blanc area. Also Kandersteg in Bernese Alps is famous ice center and home to many of the most difficult new-style mixed routes. Eastern Alps are also well suited for ice climbing, Hohe Tauern and Pitztal are among the better known areas.

While steep faces and couloirs in the Western Alps are popular proving ground for skilled ski alpinists, Central and eastern Alps are probably better suited for less extreme skiers. Via ferratas, a form of combination of a hiking path and climbing route are found in abundance in the Dolomites (however, they do exists also elsewhere).

Information

In comparison to most other alpine areas, there's abundancy of information available about the climbs in the Alps. Especially the most popular areas of the Western Alps have great number of guidebooks available in several languages.

There's no shortage of information about Western Alps. For climbers who are limited to English, guidebooks cobvering Dauphiné (Ecrins Massif), Mount Blanc Massif, Bernese Alps and Valais Alps (Wallis), guidebooks are available by British Alpine Club. For Swiss areas, Alpine guidebooks (Alpinführer or Clubführer) are generally the best guidebooks. Because they are very thorough, one guidebook covers only small area though, so you might end up needing quite a lot of them. If you are only interested in famous high peaks (and the omission of most of the extreme routes does not disturb you), Selected guides (Auswahlführer) might be as good option. They cover much larger areas but not bnearly as thoroughly. Alpine guidebooks are available both in German and French. Some areas are covered by Rother's area guides (Gebietsführer) as well. Since I don't speak French I have no idea what kind of guidebooks are available in French. I expect though, that if you speak French, you should probably go with the French guidebooks, as the local books tend to be the most complete and most up to date.

Generally speaking there is less information available about the Eastern Alps. And mostly if you want to get up to date and thorough information, you better know German. There are few English language guidebooks, but they are typically not very thorough and sometimes also very out of date. Alpine club guides (Alpenvereinführer) published by Rother are the standard literature. If you are into ice climbing, you might want to take a look at books published by Alpinverlag Jentschl-Rabl. Furthermore, Selection series of Rother are very nice as well. For climbers not speaking local language, Julian Alps in without the doubt the most difficult area, as there is not that much information available.

  • Goedeke, Richard: The Alpine 4000m Peaks by the Classic Routes. Isbn: 1898573565. Baton Wicks Publications, 2003.
  • Moran, Martin: The 4000m Peaks of the Alps - Selected Climbs. Isbn: 9780900523663. Alpine Club, 2007.
  • Dumler, Helmut & Burkhardt, Willi P.: Viertausender der Alpen. Isbn: 3763374272. Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, 2001.
  • Höfler, Horst: Die Traumgipfel der Schweiz - Auf Normalrouten zu 40 berühmten Gipfeln. Isbn: 3765437530. Bruckmann, 2002.
  • Goedeke, Richard: 4000er - 40 klassische Gipfelziele. Isbn: 3765439215. Bruckmann, 2002.
  • Goedeke, Richard: 4000er - Die Normalrouten auf alle Viertausender in den Alpen (Tourenführer). Isbn: 3765439975. Bruckmann, 2006.
  • Donatsch, Peter: Alle 4000er der Alpen. Isbn: 3855027978. AT Verlag, 2003.
  • Goedeke, Richard: 3000er in den Alpen - Die Normalwege. Südliche Alpen mit Dolomiten. Isbn: 3765436615. Bruckmann, 2004.
  • Colonel, Mario: Himmelsleitern. Die schönsten Grattouren der Alpen. Isbn: 3855029822. AT Verlag, 2004.
  • Goedeke, Richard: 4000er Tourenführer. Isbn: 9783765457616. Bruckmann Verlag Gmbh.

Areas

Western Alps

East face of Mont Blanc massif. The statue in the foreground is the summit madonna of Tour Ronde. Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.
East face of Mont Blanc massif. The statue in the foreground is the summit madonna of Tour Ronde. Credit: Ari Paulin, Shot in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.

Groups located to the west of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.

  • Southwestern Alps Groups located to the west of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.
  • Southwestern Alps Groups located to the west of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Essentially this means that the groups of Central Alps are counted as part of the Eastern Alps.
  • Donatsch Peter & Coulin David: Die schönsten Gipfelziele der Schweizer Alpen West - Zentralschweiz, Berner Oberland, Freiburg, Wallis, Waadt, 2. Auflage edition. Isbn: 9783855028115. AT Verlag, 2004.

Southwestern Alps

The highest and the most famous parts of Southwestern Alps are Maritime Alps, Cottian Alps and Dauphiné. The latter is the home of the sole 4000er of SW Alps: Barre des Écrins (4102m). It is also the only part with significant glaciation.

  • Ligurian Alps Southwestern extremity of the Alps. They form the border between Piedmont in the north and Liguria in the south. The highest part of the range is the west, where the group culminates at Punta Marguareis (2651m).
  • Maritime Alps Maritime Alps on the southern border between France and Italy (north of the city of Nice and southwest from Turin) are the southernmost mountain range of the Alps. Although the mountains are significantly lower than many in the north and east, the rock is generally of good quality gneiss and routes of up to 600 meters are not uncommon.
  • Provence Alps and Prealps
  • Cottian Alps Cottian Alps are located between Maritime Alps in the south, Dauphiné in the east and Graian Alps in the north. The most important mountain of the area is pyramide-shaped Monte Viso (also known as Monviso, 3843m), located in Italy and part of the Queyras Mountains SE from the city of Briancon. South of Queyras lies Ubaye valley close to city of Barcelonnette. The highest mountains of this area is Aiguille de Chambeyron. South of Ubaye lies famous canyon Gorges de Verdon, a mecca for (sport) rock climbers.
  • Dauphiné Dauphiné is a compact region of large peaks with long summit ridges, rising above long stony valleys. It is also known as Ecrins Massif. The area offers a wide selection of climbs of all grades from easy to long and serious. The crown of the area is Barre des Écrins, the only summit reaching magical 4000 meter mark (4101m). Other popular mountains are La Meije (3983m), Ailefroide (3954m) and Mont Pelvoux (3946m).
  • Dauphiné Prealps

Maritime Alps

Maritime Alps on the southern border between France and Italy (north of the city of Nice and southwest from Turin) are the southernmost mountain range of the Alps. Although the mountains are significantly lower than many in the north and east, the rock is generally of good quality gneiss and routes of up to 600 meters are not uncommon.

  • Maritime Alps
    • Gruppo Gelas-Grand Capelet
    • Catena Argentera-Pépoiri-Matto
    • Catena Corborant-Tenibres-Enciastraia
    • Catena Côte de l'Ane-Mounier
    • Catena Pelat-Frema-Grand Coyer
  • Nice Prealps
    • Catena Rocaillon-Roccassièra-Férion
    • Catena Grand Braus-Razet-Grandmont

Climbers will be most interested in the peaks around the village of St.Martin de Vésubie. Here locates the region's highest peak, Punta del'Argentera (3297m). The mountain locates less than 50 km from the Mediterranean and stable climate reflects this proximity. Except in the highest and most sheltered areas, most snow has melted by summer.

During the winter Maritime Alps have high quality ice fall climbing. Center is Argentera valley in which the season runs from mid-december to March. Because of approximity to Mediterranean, the season shorter than in the areas further north.

  • 3741 OTIGN
  • TOP25: Saint-Martin-VésubieIGN
  • Les Spéciales: 5 Argentera MerceantourIGN
  • TOP25: 3541 OT Vallée de la VésubieIGN. 1:25 000
  • TOP25: 3741 OT Vallée de la CordolasqueIGN. 1:25 000

Cottian Alps

Cottian Alps are located between Maritime Alps in the south, Dauphiné in the east and Graian Alps in the north. The most important mountain of the area is pyramide-shaped Monte Viso (also known as Monviso, 3843m), located in Italy and part of the Queyras Mountains SE from the city of Briancon. South of Queyras lies Ubaye valley close to city of Barcelonnette. The highest mountains of this area is Aiguille de Chambeyron. South of Ubaye lies famous canyon Gorges de Verdon, a mecca for (sport) rock climbers.

  • 3637 OT Mont VisoIGN

Dauphiné (Ecrins Massif)

Dauphiné is a compact region of large peaks with long summit ridges, rising above long stony valleys. It is also known as Ecrins Massif. The area offers a wide selection of climbs of all grades from easy to long and serious. The crown of the area is Barre des Écrins, the only summit reaching magical 4000 meter mark (4101m). Other popular mountains are La Meije (3983m), Ailefroide (3954m) and Mont Pelvoux (3946m).

Convenient centres are are La Bárarde and Ailefroide. Nearest bigger city is Bourg d'Oisans. With the exception of ski lifts of La Grave, there are no telepheriques, thus walk-ins are often long. Season lasts from early July to early September. As elsewhere, first 2 weeks of August are very crowded, although not nearly as crowded as Chamonix. The range is far enough south that the Mediterranean has considerable climatic influence, and the weather is generally gentler than elsewhere in the high Alps. Forecasts can be gotten from Rescue Post near CAF Centre.

There are excellent middle grade mixed climbs, pure rock routes and some really serious difficult climbs, but it is also very suitable for a first season in the Alps. The gneiss of the Ecrins is not considered to be of best quality, but all the recommended rock-climbs are as solid as Chamonix. However, there are some big routes that are serious because of poor rock.

During the winter the Oisans region becomes one of the ice climbing meccas of the Europe. Most famous destinations for climbers in search of quality ice are L'Alpe d'Huez and especially La Grave.

  • 3436 ET Meije-PelvouxIGN. 1:25 000
  • 3537 ET Guillestre, Vars, RisoulIGN. 1:25 000
  • 3437 ET Orcières-MerletteIGN. 1:25 000
  • 3336 ET Les Desux-Alpes Olon. MuzelleIGN. 1:25 000
Valleys
Bourg d'Oisans

Access to NW side of the range is from Grenoble to Bourg d'Oisans. The main resorts there are l'Alp d'Huez and La Bérarde in the heart of Les Ecrins.

Alpe d'HuezLa Bérarde
La Grave

Ski resort la Grave is the main center in the northern part of the area. The access is either from Grenoble or Briançon. Main peaks accessible from La Grave are La Meije and le Râteau. During the winter the valley is one of the premiere ice climbing spots in the Alps with great number of classic routes.

Ailefroide

From Briançon drive up to Ailefroide, located to the East of the range. Access to Mont Pelvoux and Barre des Ecrins.

La-Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar

From Gap drive up to La-Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar, located to the south of the range.

Northwestern Alps

Northwestern section includes the most famous parts of the Alps: Mont Blanc massif of Grain Alps, Bernese Alps and Pennine Alps (Valais Alps). Almost all 4000ers are spread into these ranges.

  • Graian Alps Graian Alps are located along the Italian and French border between La Grave at the southwest and Aoeste at the northeast. They are due north of the Cottian Alps and northeast of the Dauphiné. The range includes three separate massifs, Vanoise in western part, eastern Graias (often referred to as Gran Paradiso Group) and Mont Blanc Alps. The approach to the range is easiest from Val d'Aosta. Turin, Italy is a nearby major center.
  • Savoy Prealps
  • Bernese Alps The Bernese Oberland is located in the north-western part of the Swiss Alps. Apart from a eight 4000m peaks it has many challenging summits above the 3000m mark. Although Finsteraarhorn is the highest peak in the area (4274m), the Bernese Alps are dominated by the famous trilogy of Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. The area is highly heavily glaciated, in fact, around 25 km long Aletschgletscher, the longest glacier in the Alps, is found in the Bernese Alps. The center of Bernese Alps is Grindelwald (1034m). Jungfraubahn from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch (3454), the highest railway in the Europe, makes approaches to several climbs much shorter.
  • Lepontine Alps In the south on the Swiss-Italian border between Simplon and Splügen passes lie the Lepontine Alps (eastern part of the range is sometimes referred to as Adula Alps). The range has several peaks that rise above 3000m mark, but it is not particularly popular among the climbers because of the quality of the rock leaves some room for improvement. However, these areas are well suited for ski mountaineering during the winter. Especially popular is Monte Leone (3553m) just above the town of Brig.
  • Lugano Prealps Located to the south of Lepontine Alps.
  • Valais Alps The Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy are perhaps the most spectacular mountain chain in Europe. The range borders on the Great St. Bernard Pass and the Mont Blanc group in southwest, on the Upper Rhône Valley in the north, on the Simplon Pass and the Lepontine Alps in northeast and by the Dora Baltea River valley in south. The compact area boasts ten of the twelve highest summits in the Alps (the other two are part of the Mont Blanc Massif), most of them located in the frontier crest. The high mountains are separated by long narrow valleys.
  • Glarus Alps Glarus Alps, located to the south and east of Engelberg are possibly to most interesting part of Central Alps to the climbers. Titlis (3240m) above Lake Lucerne and city of Engelberg is a popular ski mountaineering peak. Around it, there are several lesser peaks that, however, have high-quality granite for rock climbing. For those interested in classic ice climbing, Clariden (3267m) Nordwand (AD, 50°) is the best objective.
  • Swiss Prealps Long chains of lower ranges to the north of the main chain. North-eastern Swiss Alps lie close to Austrian border. The best known peaks of the area are Glärnisch (2920m) and Säntis (2504m) in the canton of Appenzell.

Graian Alps

Graian Alps are located along the Italian and French border between La Grave at the southwest and Aoeste at the northeast. They are due north of the Cottian Alps and northeast of the Dauphiné. The range includes three separate massifs, Vanoise in western part, eastern Graias (often referred to as Gran Paradiso Group) and Mont Blanc Alps. The approach to the range is easiest from Val d'Aosta. Turin, Italy is a nearby major center.

  • Alps de Lanzo i de l'Alta Moriana
  • Alps de la Vanoise i del Grand Arc Vanoise area has a lot to offer, particularly for those seeking to gain Alpine experience, or those looking for something a little less demanding than the Chamonix summits. A collection of peaks which includes a dozen summits above the 3550m mark and attains a maximum altitude of 3852m (Grande Casse), provides a good and varied selection of snow and mixed routes, with something for the novice and experienced alpinist alike. The whole area is criss-crossed by a network of excellent paths, making access to the mountains a simple matter and providing a number of attractive routes for the mountain walker. Pralognan and Val d'Isere are the two best bases of the area. Both have campsites, tourist offices, hotels, shops and banks. It is possible to transfer between the two by bus, as there are regular daily services.
  • Alps de la Grande Sassière i del Rutor
  • Alps del Gran Paradiso Eastern Graian Alps are home to two important peaks, Gran Paradiso (4061m) and Grivola (3969m). In addition, there are over 20 rock fins and towers reaching the 3500 meter mark. Eastern area has plenty of alpine snow and ice routes. Normal route of Gran Paradiso is a popular destination among those willing to climb their first 4000m peak. NW face on the other hand is a classic ice face.
  • Graian AlpsMont Blanc Alps
  • Alps del Beaufortain

The best known ice climbing center of the area is, Cogne in the Aosta Valley at the base of the Grand Paradiso. Access is through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Courmayeur then down the Aosta valley to Sarre then a twisting road leads up into the mountains. Cogne is higher and further north than other ice climbing centres of Graian Alps, thus it has a longer and more reliable season.

  • 2003 Il Parco Nationale del Gran ParadisoIGC. 1:50 000
  • 101 Gran Paradiso, La Grivola, CogneIGC. 1:25 000
  • Kompass Karte: 86 Gran Paradiso
Valleys
valle d'Aosta

Large valley located to the north of Grain Alps. Main city of the valley is Aosta. Cogne, located in Aosta valley is a mecca for waterfall climbing during the winter.

Mont Blanc Alps

Home of alpinism, Mont Blanc Massif offers the alpinist a superb choice of top quality routes on rock, snow and ice and of all grades of difficulty. Several of the classic routes have their firm place in the history of mountaineering. Besides Mont Blanc at 4807m there are thirteen other mountains and many more tops which reach the magic 4000m. There are several trains and telepheriques that make approaches to many mountains short and effortless. Considering this, the quality and diversity of routes, and the fact that the range is compact, it is no wonder, that overcrowding can be a problem in some areas. However, it is also possible to climb routes in relative solitude, if climbers are prepared to climb in less popular (and often also less accessible) areas. <<more>>.

Bernese Alps

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, view from Männlichen. Source: . Credit: Cable1,  Shot in 
									Grindelwald
									Bern
									Switzerland
								, Grindelwald, Switzerland. Licensed under: Public Domain.
Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, view from Männlichen. Source: . Credit: Cable1, Shot in Grindelwald Bern Switzerland , Grindelwald, Switzerland. Licensed under: Public Domain.

The Bernese Oberland is located in the north-western part of the Swiss Alps. Apart from a eight 4000m peaks it has many challenging summits above the 3000m mark. Although Finsteraarhorn is the highest peak in the area (4274m), the Bernese Alps are dominated by the famous trilogy of Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. The area is highly heavily glaciated, in fact, around 25 km long Aletschgletscher, the longest glacier in the Alps, is found in the Bernese Alps. The center of Bernese Alps is Grindelwald (1034m). Jungfraubahn from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfraujoch (3454), the highest railway in the Europe, makes approaches to several climbs much shorter. <<more>>.

Pennine Alps (Valais Alps)

The Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy are perhaps the most spectacular mountain chain in Europe. The range borders on the Great St. Bernard Pass and the Mont Blanc group in southwest, on the Upper Rhône Valley in the north, on the Simplon Pass and the Lepontine Alps in northeast and by the Dora Baltea River valley in south. The compact area boasts ten of the twelve highest summits in the Alps (the other two are part of the Mont Blanc Massif), most of them located in the frontier crest. The high mountains are separated by long narrow valleys. <<more>>.

Lepontine Alps

In the south on the Swiss-Italian border between Simplon and Splügen passes lie the Lepontine Alps (eastern part of the range is sometimes referred to as Adula Alps). The range has several peaks that rise above 3000m mark, but it is not particularly popular among the climbers because of the quality of the rock leaves some room for improvement. However, these areas are well suited for ski mountaineering during the winter. Especially popular is Monte Leone (3553m) just above the town of Brig.

The Albula Alps lie in the canton of Grisons (Graubünden), north of the winter sport center Saint Moritz and rises between Splügen and Flüela passes. There the rock begins to reminiscent dolomitic limestone. The highest peak is Piz Kesch (3418m).

  • Anderson: Mittel Switzerland - Lepontine - Ticino - Adula Alps. Isbn: .

Glarus Alps

Glarus Alps, located to the south and east of Engelberg are possibly to most interesting part of Central Alps to the climbers. Titlis (3240m) above Lake Lucerne and city of Engelberg is a popular ski mountaineering peak. Around it, there are several lesser peaks that, however, have high-quality granite for rock climbing. For those interested in classic ice climbing, Clariden (3267m) Nordwand (AD, 50°) is the best objective.

During the wintertime the absolute highlight of the area is Brunnital, one of the premiere sports for ice climbing in the Alps.

Eastern Alps

East side of Grossglockner from Franz-Josefs Höhe. Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot on 2009-06-21 Photo taken in Grossglockner, Austria.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.
East side of Grossglockner from Franz-Josefs Höhe. Credit: Ari Paulin, Shot on 2009-06-21 Photo taken in Grossglockner, Austria.(c) Ari Paulin, licensed under: Copyrighted.

Groups located to the east of division line is Nufenenpass - Grimselpass - Lucerne - Zürich. Eastern Alps consist of numerous mountain groups and sub groups. Generally Eastern Alps are lower in altitude and not as steep is statue as the Western Alps. Therefore, they are internationally less famous and. There are however, few notable exceptions, particularly Dolomites.

  • The best areas for general mountaineering the most famous areas are those with the highest peaks: Bernina Alps, Ortler Alps and Glockner group of Hohe Tauern. These are also the areas to visit for more technical alpine routes.
  • For easy mountaineering and skitouring, Silvretta, and Eastern Rhäetian Alps (Zillertal, Stubai, Ötztal) are among the best areas.
  • Internationally the best known climbing destinations of the Eastern Alps are Dolomites and Bregaglia. The claim to fame for both being spectacular rock peaks. Those aside, internationally less known but but well established alpine rock areas include Rhätikön, Wetterstein, Karwendel, Kaisergebirge, Berchtesgadener Alps, Dachstein and Julian Alps.
  • During the winter time, waterfall ice can be found in many places, particularly Dolomites has several classic areas.

Alpine Clubs made official structure back in 1984 which is used in most guidebooks and maps. Newer SOIUSA division deviates from that somewhat. The structure on this site is mostly consistent with SOIUSA division. However, areas that are less interesting for mountaineering and alpinism may be grouped together to form larger groups. Also few mountain groups, officially associated with Western Alps are grouped together with western areas of Eastern Alps under the heading Central Alps.

  • North Eastern Alps Northern part of Eastern Alps extend through Southern Germany and northern Austria from Bodensee in the West to Wien in the East. The area consist of many mountain groups, many of which are not too important for mountaineers and alpinists. Several limestone ranges ranges located right on the border between Austria and Germany, collectively referred to as Bavarian Alps are well suited for alpine rock climbing. Because of the relatively low altitude and approximity of major cities München, Innsbruck and Salzburg, the area is also popular among mountain walkers and hikers. Most important mountains are Zugspitze (2962m) in Wetterstein Group and Watzmann (2713m) in Berchtesgader Alps. Also, Dachtein group further to the east is important climbing area. In the following, only most important areas are introduced. North Tyrol Limestone Alps forms the highest part of North eastern Alps. The ranges on or close to border between Germany and Austria feature several relatively compact ranges. Some of these ranges are popular climbing destinations, particularly Wetterstein, Karwendel and Kaisergebirge. However, none of these ranges are very well known outside of German-speaking Europe. Relatively modest altitude means that the areas areas are best known for rock climbing and trekking, those looking for classic mountaineering experience are better served by looking to the higher peaks further south. Wetterstein is relatively small area located on the border between Germany and Austria, just south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Mieminger lies just south of Wetterstein and North of Stubai Alps. The highest aand most famous mountain of the area is Zugspitze (2962m), the highest mountain of Germany. Karwendel lies mostly in Austria, between Inntal (Innsbruck) in the south, Wetterstein in West, Rofangebirge in East and Isar in the North. Most common bases are Innsbruck in the south, Achensee in East, Wallgau, Leggries and Eng in the north and Mittenwald, Seefeld, Scharnitz and Krön in the west. Kaisergebirge is very compact range located on Tyrol, close to Kufstein. It lies between Karwendel in the west and Rofangebirge in the east. The area offers mostly rock climbs. Kaisergebirge has important place in climbing history as from the late 19th century to the First World War wthe limestone faces of the Wilder Kaiser were the cradle of Munich's climbing scene. During that period well-known climbing pioneers like Hans Dülfer developed entirely new climbing techniques and styles. Several of the climbs put up during that era were at the pinnacle of possibility at the time. Northern Salzburg Alps (Salzburger Nordalpen) are located to the south of Salzburg, partially in Austria, partially in Germany. By far the most famous part of the peaks is Berchtesgadener Alps, which is one of the highest and most important parts of North eastern Alps. The highest peak of the are is Hochkönig (2941m), but somewhat lower peaks like Watzmann, Hoher Göll, Hochkalter and Untersberg are far more famous. Groups to the east of 'Northern Salzburg Alps' and the city of Salzburg. The highest and by far the best known area is Dachstein group.
  • Northern Eastern Alps West from the Bernina and Central Alps and between Northern and Southern ranges lie Central Eastern Alps, that consist of several mountain groups from. Western groups are glaciated, some of them excessively so. The area is best known for high-quality snow and ice climbing and ski-mountaineering. However, most areas feature good rock climbing, especially on the rocky towers of Zillertaler Alps. The most famous mountains of the area is Grossglockner (3798m) in Hohe Tauern. Further to the east, mountains are much lower and not glaciated.
  • South Eastern Alps Southern Eastern Alps are located mainly in Italy and Slovenia with northern parts reaching into southern Austria. The area consist of groups of very different character: where Ortler Group furthest to the West has high mountains with excessive glacier and mostly snow and ice climbs, Dolomites and and Julian Alps further to the east are much lower and are well known for rock climbs.
  • Jentzsch-Rabl, Axel: Firn- Und Eisklettern in Den Ostalpen. Isbn: 9783902656193.
  • O'Connor, Bill: Alpine Ski Mountaineering - Eastern Alps v. 2: Central and Eastern Alps (Cicerone Winter and Ski Mountaineering). Isbn: 9781852843748. Cicerone Press, 2003.
  • Schmitt, Edwin & Pusch, Wolfgang: Hochtouren Ostalpen - 90 Fels- und Eistouren zwischen Bernina und Tauern. Isbn: 9783763330102. Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, 2004.
  • Seibert, Dieter: Eastern Alps - The Classic Routes on the Highest Peaks. Isbn: 9780906371541. Diadem Books, 1992.
  • Donatsch, Peter & Coulin, David: Die schönsten Gipfelziele der Schweizer Alpen Ost - Ostschweiz, Glarus, Schwyz, Graubünden, Tessin, 2. A. edition. Isbn: 9783855029075. AT Verlag, 2002.
  • Sertori, Mario: Alpine Ice - The 600 Best Ice Falls In The Alps. Isbn: 9788887890839. Versant Sud, 2009.
  • Die Königstouren Der Ostalpen. Isbn: 9783765449680. Bruckmann Verlag Gmbh.

Central Eastern Alps

West from the Bernina and Central Alps and between Northern and Southern ranges lie Central Eastern Alps, that consist of several mountain groups from. Western groups are glaciated, some of them excessively so. The area is best known for high-quality snow and ice climbing and ski-mountaineering. However, most areas feature good rock climbing, especially on the rocky towers of Zillertaler Alps. The most famous mountains of the area is Grossglockner (3798m) in Hohe Tauern. Further to the east, mountains are much lower and not glaciated.

  • Western Rhaetian Alps Western Rhaetian Alps is the highest part of Eastern Alps culminating at Piz Bernina, the sole 4000er in the Eastern Alps. The areas extend from Switzeland (Albula and Bernina groups) and Italy (Livigno Alps) to western Austria (Vorarlberg). The westernmost group, Albula Alps is considered part of Central Alps in the older three-part classification scheme. Internationally by far the best known parts are bernina and Nreraglia groups (both classified under Nernina Alps in SOIUSA classifications). Also Rhätikön is relatively well known, as it has established as prime alpine rock climbing destination. Western Rhaetian Alps
  • Eastern Rhaetian Alps Eastern Rhaetian Alps consists of Austrian groups between Rhätikön in the west and Zillertaler Alps in the East. Eastern Rhaetian Alps
  • Western Tauern Alps Besides Bernina Alps and Ortles Alps of Southern Eastern Alps, Western Tauern Alps is clasasic high mountain area with steep peaks and extensive glaciers. Particularly Glockner group of Hohe Tauern has plenty of peaks with classic 'Hochtouren'.
  • Eastern Tauern Alps
  • Carinthian-Styrian Alps
  • Styrian Prealps

The mountains in the Central Eastern Alps are not as high and generally not as steep as in Western Alps, the normal routes on the most high peaks are in the F-PD range. There are, however, several more demanding classics on snow, ice or mixed ground, especially on and around Grossglockner and in Zillertal (Hochfeiler).

Lot of quality waterfall ice climbing is found in Austria. Propably the Best-known areas are Pitztal, Zillertal, Gasteinertal and Rudolfshütte (Grossglockner area).

Getting information about the climbs may not always be straight forward for foreign climbers, as most of the information is only available in German. Also, typically no overall alpine grade is used.

  • Topo.Verlag: Bündner Alpen Hochtouren Topoführer - Topo Verlag. Isbn: 9783952400944. Topo.Verlag, 2015.
  • Stefan, Biggel; Gernert, Stefan; Glaser, Alban; Heiland, Robert; Jutz, Pio & Robl, Matthias: Eiskletterführer Zwischen Bregenz bis Garmisch - Vorarlberg, Bregenzer Wald, Allgäu, Lechtal, Ammergau, Wetterstein, Loisachtal, 2. Auflage. edition. Isbn: 9783926807670. Panico Alpinverlag, 2007.
  • Axel; Abler, Robert; Hã¶llwarth, Michael Jentzsch-Rabl: Eisklettern in Tirol. Isbn: 9783950092011. Alpinverlag, 2005.

Western Rhaetian Alps

Western Rhaetian Alps is the highest part of Eastern Alps culminating at Piz Bernina, the sole 4000er in the Eastern Alps. The areas extend from Switzeland (Albula and Bernina groups) and Italy (Livigno Alps) to western Austria (Vorarlberg). The westernmost group, Albula Alps is considered part of Central Alps in the older three-part classification scheme. Internationally by far the best known parts are bernina and Nreraglia groups (both classified under Nernina Alps in SOIUSA classifications). Also Rhätikön is relatively well known, as it has established as prime alpine rock climbing destination.

  • Oberhalbstein Range
  • Albula Alps
  • Bernina & Bregaglia Bernina Alps and Bregaglia are located very close together in the southeast corner of Switzerland. Outside mountaineering circles the area is more famous as the winter playground of the "jet-set", centered on the fashionable resorts of St. Moritz (1822m) and Samedan (1720m) in the upper Engadin valley, and Pontresina (1800m) in Bernina valley.
  • Livigno Alps
  • Sesvenna Alps
  • Silvretta, Samnaun and Ferwall Alps Silvretta group is located at the easternmost part of Central Alps at the border between Switzerland and Austria. The most famous, although not the highest, mountain of the area is Piz Buin (3312m), located in Austria. The highest peak of the range, Piz Linard (3409m) is located in Switzerland. Silvretta group is heavily glaciated and is popular with summer and winter tourists.
  • Plessur Alps
  • Rhätikon Rätikon (or Rhätikon) is located in the the northern part of Swiss canton Grisons (Graubünden). It is popular among rock-climbers, especially among alpine sport climbers, and hikers.
  • AV-Karte: 26 Silvretta1:25 000
  • Freytag & Berndt Wanderkarte: 37 Rätikon-Silvretta-Verwall1:100 000
  • Swiss Landeskarte: 1198 Silvretta1:25 000
  • **bundner Alpen 6 (Allemand)**. Isbn: 9783859021877.
  • Alpinführer/ Clubführer. Bündner Alpen 09, 2. Auflage. Edition edition. Isbn: 9783859020580. Sac.
  • Alpine Touren Silvretta / Unterengadin / Münstertal, 1. Auflage. Edition edition. Isbn: 9783859023093. Sac.
  • Hunziker, Manfred: Alpine Touren Rätikon / Arosa / Ringelspitz, 1. Auflage. Edition edition. Isbn: 9783859023130. Sac.
  • Flaig, Gã¼nther: Silvretta. Alpenvereinsführer Alpin. Ein Führer Für Täler, Hütten Und Gipfel. Isbn: 9783763310975. Bergverlag Rother, 2000.
  • Pasold, Achim: Kletterführer Vorarlberg - Bregenzerwald | Lechquellengebirge | Rätikon | Silvretta | Verwall, 5 edition. Isbn: 9783956110245. Panico Alpinverlag, 2014.
  • Seibert, Dieter: Bregenzerwald- Und Lechquellengebirge Alpin. Alle Routen Fur Wanderer Und Bergsteiger (Alpenvereinsfuhrer). Isbn: 9783763310951. Bergverlag Rother.
  • Weiskopf, Andreas: Verwallgruppe. Isbn: 9783763312511. Bergverlag Rother, 2005.
  • Alpine Bergtouren Im Allgäu. Isbn: 9783765460890. Bruckmann Verlag Gmbh.
  • Hã¼sler, Eugen E.: Silvretta, Rätikon. Isbn: 9783765429910. Bruckmann, 1998.
Rhätikon

Rätikon (or Rhätikon) is located in the the northern part of Swiss canton Grisons (Graubünden). It is popular among rock-climbers, especially among alpine sport climbers, and hikers.

  • Widmaier, Johanna: Best of - Genuss Bd. 2 - Vom Rätikon Zum Wilden Kaiser. Alpine Genussklettereien Von 3 Bis 7., 1. Auflage. Edition edition. Isbn: 9783936740219. Panico Alpinverlag, 2009.
  • Stocker, Adi: Longlines – Die Ganz Großen Klettereien Der Nördlichen Kalkalpen, 1. Auflage edition. Isbn: 9783956110221. Panico Alpinverlag, 2014.
  • Pasold, Achim: Kletterführer Vorarlberg - Bregenzerwald | Lechquellengebirge | Rätikon | Silvretta | Verwall, 5 edition. Isbn: 9783956110245. Panico Alpinverlag, 2014.
  • **bundner Alpen 7 (Allemand)**. Isbn: 9783859020993. Club Alpin Suis.
  • Rätikon Alpin, 10. Auflage. Edition edition. Isbn: 9783763310982. Bergverlag Rother.
  • Kletterführer Alpin Rätikon Süd Alpine Ziele Klettergärten Kirchlispitzen Schweizereck Drusenfluh Drusentürme Sulzfluh Gamstobelwand Chlein Venedig Schijenfluh Prättigau, 3. Auflage. Edition edition. Isbn: 9783926807380. Panico Alpinverlag.
  • Hã¼sler, Eugen E.: Silvretta, Rätikon. Isbn: 9783765429910. Bruckmann, 1998.

Eastern Rhaetian Alps

Eastern Rhaetian Alps consists of Austrian groups between Rhätikön in the west and Zillertaler Alps in the East.

  • Ötztal Alps Ötztal range is located in Tyrol, Austria, just to the north of Inn Valley. The area are very popular and correspondingly has several huts. Best known objectives among the climbers are Wildspitze (3768m), Weisskugel (3738m)and Similaun (3599m). All of these have glacier ascents of around PD. North Faces of Wildspitze and Weisskugel are famous harder ice routes of the area.
  • Stubai Alps Stubai range is located in Tyrol, Austria, just to the north of Inn Valley. The area are very popular and correspondingly has several huts. Best known objective among the climbers is Zuckerhütl (3507m). All of these have glacier ascents of around PD.
  • Sarntal Alps
Ötztal Alps

Ötztal range is located in Tyrol, Austria, just to the north of Inn Valley. The area are very popular and correspondingly has several huts. Best known objectives among the climbers are Wildspitze (3768m), Weisskugel (3738m)and Similaun (3599m). All of these have glacier ascents of around PD. North Faces of Wildspitze and Weisskugel are famous harder ice routes of the area.

  • Alpenverein: 30/2 Ötztaler Alpen/Weisskugel1:25 000
  • Alpenverein: 30/6 Ötztaler Alpen/Wildspitze1:25 000
  • Kompass Wanderkarte: 43 Ötztaler Alpen1:50 000
  • Kompass Wanderkarte: WKS2 Südliche Ötztaler Alpen
Stubai Alps

Stubai range is located in Tyrol, Austria, just to the north of Inn Valley. The area are very popular and correspondingly has several huts. Best known objective among the climbers is Zuckerhütl (3507m). All of these have glacier ascents of around PD.

  • Alpenvereinskarte: 31/1 Hochstubai1:25 000
  • Alpenvereinskarte: 31/5 Innsbruck-Umgebung1:50 000
  • Kompass Wanderkarte: 83 Stubaier Alpen-Serleskamm1:50 000
  • Kompass Wanderkarte: 36 Innsbruck-Nrennen1:50 000
  • Österreichische Karte: 174 Timmelsjoch1:50 000

Western Tauern Alps

Besides Bernina Alps and Ortles Alps of Southern Eastern Alps, Western Tauern Alps is clasasic high mountain area with steep peaks and extensive glaciers. Particularly Glockner group of Hohe Tauern has plenty of peaks with classic 'Hochtouren'.

  • Zillertal Alps Zillertaler mountains are are typically jagged with sharp ridges, pinnacles and towers. Many glaciers are heavily crevassed and feature impressive icefalls. Most famous mountains are Hochfeiler (3509m), Grosse Möseler (3480m) and Grosse Löffler (3379), all of which have normal routes between F and PD-. More demanding classics of the area are North Faces of Hochfeiler and Hochferner and Northwest Face of Grosse Möseler.
  • Hohe Tauern
  • Alps Pustereses
  • Grup del Kreuzeck
Zillertal Alps

Zillertaler mountains are are typically jagged with sharp ridges, pinnacles and towers. Many glaciers are heavily crevassed and feature impressive icefalls. Most famous mountains are Hochfeiler (3509m), Grosse Möseler (3480m) and Grosse Löffler (3379), all of which have normal routes between F and PD-. More demanding classics of the area are North Faces of Hochfeiler and Hochferner and Northwest Face of Grosse Möseler.

  • AV-Karte: 35/2 Zillertaler Alpen Central1:25 000
  • AV-Karte: 31/1 Zillertaler Alpen West1:25 000
  • Kompass-Wanderkarte: 37 Zillertaler Alpen-Tuxer Voralpen1:50 000
  • Kompass-Wanderkarte: 821:50 000
  • Österreichische Karte: 149 Lanersbach1:50 000
  • Österreichische Karte: 150 Zell am Ziller1:50 000

South Eastern Alps

Southern Eastern Alps are located mainly in Italy and Slovenia with northern parts reaching into southern Austria. The area consist of groups of very different character: where Ortler Group furthest to the West has high mountains with excessive glacier and mostly snow and ice climbs, Dolomites and and Julian Alps further to the east are much lower and are well known for rock climbs.

  • Southern Rhaetian Alps Southern Rhaetian Alps is the highest part of South Eastern Alps and also the only area with proper glaciers.
  • Bergamasque Alps and Prealps
  • Brescia and Garda Prealps
  • Dolomites Dolomites are located in northern Italy. Their name comes from the mineral dolomite which is common in the rocks, colourful dolomitic limestone. Although Dolomites are relativeley low, the mountains are very dramatic featuring characteristic limestone pinnacles and spires and high vertical or overhanging faces, some of them over 1000 meters high. The highest peak of the Dolomites is Marmolada (3342m). However, propably the most famous is Cima Grande (2999m), a classic climbing peak with impressive North Face. Wilder and more alpine mountains than those on other Dolomites groups. Separated from the rest of the groups by Adige valley. Several small glaciers and snow gullies and a lot of cia ferratas.
  • Venetian Prealps
  • Carnic and Gailtal Alps
  • Julian Alps and Prealps Julian Alps, located in Slovenia, are the easternmost part of the Alps. The rock of the area resembles the limestone of Dolomites. Althought the mountains are not as striking as the Dolomites, the climbing is of good quality. Slovenian Alps see far less tourists than other parts of the range thus is is a good place to go, if enjoying mountain solitude is high on the priority list.
  • Carinthian-Slovenian Alps
  • Slovenian Prealps
  • Auer, Konrad & Unteregelsbacher, Philipp: Eiskletterführer "Südtirol-Dolomiten", 1. Auflage. edition. Isbn: 9783936740608. Panico Alpinverlag, 2009.

Southern Rhaetian Alps

Southern Rhaetian Alps is the highest part of South Eastern Alps and also the only area with proper glaciers.

  • Ortler Alps
  • Alps de Val di Non
  • Adamello-Presanella Alps Adamello-Presanella group lies further south of main Ortler Group. Despite its southern location, the area boasts Mandrone glacier, the biggest one in Italy. Cima Presanella (3558m) and Monte Adamello (3554m) are the dominant peaks of the area. North Face of Presanella (AD+/D-, 50-55°, 500m) is probably the best known climb in the area.
  • Brenta Dolomites Wilder and more alpine mountains than those on other Dolomites groups. Separated from the rest of the groups by Adige valley. Several small glaciers and snow gullies and a lot of cia ferratas.

Julian Alps and Prealps

Julian Alps, located in Slovenia, are the easternmost part of the Alps. The rock of the area resembles the limestone of Dolomites. Althought the mountains are not as striking as the Dolomites, the climbing is of good quality. Slovenian Alps see far less tourists than other parts of the range thus is is a good place to go, if enjoying mountain solitude is high on the priority list.

The most stunning peaks of the area are to be found near Austrian and Italian borders. Here lies also Triglav (2863m), the highest peak of the range. Other highlights include Sklartica (2740m), Magart (2678m) and Jalovec (2645m). All of the above mentioned mountains are covered with classic, multi-pitch rock climbs. Although the range has no glaciers, there are several winter routes, especially on Triglav.

  • Triglav Nationalk ParkPlaninska Zveza Slovenije. 1:25 000
  • Triglav Nationalk ParkJUlian Alps - Eastern Section. 1:50 000
  • Julian Alps - TriglavPlaninska Zveza Slovenije. 1:25 000
  • Jentzsch, Andreas & Jentzsch-Rabl, Axel: Firn- und Eisklettern in den Ostalpen - Auswahlführer mit 84 Tourenvorschlägen für Österreich, Südtirol und die Schweiz. Isbn: 9783950092004. Alpinverlag Jentsch-Rabl, 2004.
  • Mihelic, Tine: Mountaineering in Slovenia - The Julian Alps and Kamnik and Savinja Alps. Isbn: 9789616027366. Sidarta, 2003.
  • Kresal, Gregor: Zimski Vzponi - Winter Climbing in the Julian Alps. Isbn: 9789616027472.