The Hochgall is one of the loveliest and most legendary mountain shapes in the entire East Alps area. As a summer destination it is increasingly threatened by falling rocks, progressively shifting the climb to the winter months. Even just a few decades ago heading to the Hochgall on skis was the reserve of only a few extremists and met with nods of disapproval. Since that time all the steep flanks have been tackled and climbing the Hochgall from Antholzer See has become the tour of choice. When conditions are appropriate a funfair atmosphere prevails in the once so feared, over 40° steep Hochgall gully, which due to legions of Italians is probably among the „most tackled slopes“. A mountain ski tour to this tremendous stronghold of rock and ice is not to be underestimated. The gully is steep and there is a risk of falling, in particular when there is hard snow. All the ascents, whatever side you are coming from, require an ability to assess the risk of avalanche as well as solid ascending and descending technique. The best conditions are in the spring after clear nights. The East Tirol ascent is isolated and wide. Whereas the route from Erlsbach through the wild Patschertal is the reserve of the hardcore; from Staller Sattel (2000 m) there is an interesting, relative speedy ascent option to the Riepenscharte (2764 m), where the East Tirol and the South Tirol ascents meet. Starting point is the aforementioned Staller Sattel. Via the superb south-east facing slopes our track heads up to the Jägerscharte (2870 m), which we get to via a steep slope (south-east, <35) in a short trudge (2 hours). It is here that the descent in a north-westerly direction begins, along what remains of the Almerkees glacier up to the secluded Barmer Hütte (2610 m). Factor in the 270m altitude counter climb for the return journey. On the base area beneath the lodge we now head into the valley into the Riepenscharte (2764 m), which is visible from quite a distance. Normally this is the end of the seclusion and a wide track proceeds in hairpin bends beneath the Durrer Spitze in a north-westerly direction up to the Patscherkees. An upward crossing takes us to the start area of the gully at around 3050 m. Depending on the snow conditions and skiing ability, carry your skis through the very steep gully (south-east, 35° - 42°) to ascend via the somewhat exposed north-easterly ridge to the winter summit (monitor the conditions!). The rocky main summit is not tackled in the course of this ski tour. The descent through the gully requires very good skiing technique and the best conditions otherwise you would be better advised to proceed on foot using crampons! When conditions permit experienced ski tourers have the option of heading through Patschertal and skating via the closed road to Erlsbach.
Additional ski tour tips can be obtained in the ski tour guides by Thomas Mariacher. These are available here: www.grafikzloebl.at/verlag/buecher/