Ortler - Ortles, Stilfs - Stelvio, Vinschgau - Val Venosta, South Tyrol, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italija

Rising majestically to 3,905 meters (12,812 feet), Ortler stands as the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps outside the Bernina Range. This colossal peak, nestled in the heart of the Ortler Alps, holds the distinction of being the tallest in the Southern Limestone Alps and South Tyrol, Italy. Its prominence extends beyond geography; until 1919, Ortler was the highest point in the Austrian-Hungarian empire. Known affectionately as “König Ortler” or “King Ortler” in German, it is a symbol of regional pride, even referenced in South Tyrol’s unofficial hymn, the “Bozner Bergsteigerlied.”

The mountain’s imposing structure is defined by a glacier adorning its northwest flank and a striking north ridge that descends towards the village of Gomagoi, artfully delineating the Trafoi and Sulden valleys. The southern ridge of Ortler connects to the Hochjoch, part of the main ridge of the Ortler Alps, marking the boundary between the Province of Sondrio and South Tyrol. The surrounding peaks, including Thurwieserspitze, Trafoier Wall, Monte Zebrù, and the splendid Königspitze, add to the grandeur of this alpine region. The collective view of Königspitze, Zebru, and Ortler from the northeast is strikingly referred to as “das Dreigestirn,” translating to “the three heavenly bodies.”

Ortler’s first ascent on 27 September 1804 is a tale of adventure and determination. Josef Pichler, a chamois hunter from St. Leonhard in Passeier, alongside Johann Leitner and Johann Klausner from Zell am Ziller, successfully reached the summit, marking a significant moment in alpine climbing history. Their journey to conquer this towering giant has since become a part of the rich tapestry of mountaineering lore, capturing the spirit and challenge of ascending one of the Alps’ most formidable peaks.