Starting point: car park just before Plangeroß. Walk by a path, which starts off wide before narrowing and becoming increasingly steep – through the forest to the Plangeroßalpe. Once there, cross over the river at two points, continuing next to ascend on the moderately steep path along the river to the second plateau, where the path is joined by a high-level trail, the Cottbuser Höhenweg. From there, follow the trail over loose stones and rocks to the last very steep ascent of the route up to one of the highest catered mountain huts of the Ötztal Alps, the Kaunergrathütte (2,817 m). Descend by the outward route. For experienced and fit mountaineers, there is an alternative descent from the Kaunergrathütte via the Mittelberglesee lake to Trenkwald (this alter -native descent adds another 2 hrs walking time to the high Alpine trek).
Tip: From the Kaunergrathütte, within about an hour, you can also climb the summit
to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the Plangeroßkopf. Grade: moderate
Mandarfen or rather Rifflsee gondola bottom station (2290m)
Plangeroß or rather Mandarfen (1606m)
Turn right on the clearly waymarked track, following the bends in the direction of the Brandkogel peak. Climb further on this steep track, secured by steel ropes, through gullies and rocky slopes, cross over a cirque, the Alzeleskar and walk around the Steinkogel peak in a wide arch. Please note that difficult passages are secured by steel ropes but you still must be sure-footed and confident not to suffer any fear of heights - 360 degrees overview. When this track joins the high-level trail Cottbuser Höhenweg and the path from Plangeroß in the direction of the catered mountain hut Kaunergrathütte, the path is at first flat (but over rocks and stones) but then climbs very steeply up to the Kaunergrat Hütte. Descend via the outward route, but turn off towards Plangeroß at the aforementioned fork. Take the bus back to the starting point Mandarfen.
Tip: If you still feel fit, you may wish to continue to climb the Plangeroßk opf summit
to enjoy beautiful panoramic scenery, which you can reach in about 1 hr from the Kaunergrathütte. Grade: intermediate.
This alpine stage starts at the catered mountain hut Verpeilhütte, then continues across Kühgrübl past the so called Madatschtürmen [Madatsch towers] to the Madatschferner glacier, which you will follow along its southeastern edge. Once there, continue on a steep fixed ropes course up to the Aperen Madatsch Joch ridge. The ca. 4 hour descent is similar to a fixed rope course across a mountain crest to the catered mountain hut Kaunergrathütte. Please note: this stage requires alpine experience!