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In front of the Ochsentaler Glacier

Mountain yearning

Panoramic trail around the Hohe Rad

High alpine panoramic trail
Vorarlberg Magazin

Montafon

Panorama Tour

Many people see hiking on the trails in the Silvretta mountains in the Montafon region as a way to unwind from their everyday lives. The high alpine panoramic trail around the Hohe Rad rewards hikers with impressive views of Piz Buin, which is the highest mountain in Vorarlberg. But there’s even more to discover here: green meadows, glaciers and sometimes even your partner for life

TEXT: STEFAN HERBKE

Whatever your worries are, you’ll forget about them at the latest when you reach the summit,” says Klaus Kühlechner. The 65-year-old has realised his dream of living in the mountains and working as a hiking guide. And he continues to look forward to every single day that he can spend high up in the Silvretta mountains: “You just stop thinking and simply enjoy the panorama – it touches your heart.” Slowly, almost thoughtfully, Klaus sets off from the Bielerhöhe and proceeds with steady steps towards the Bieltal valley, past the Silvretta reservoir with
its ice-cold waters, while the Silvretta range’s three thousand-metre-tall mountains in the background look like they’re wearing fluffy hats because they’re all poking their high peaks into the clouds. “I want to show visitors my home,” Klaus explains, “then they’ll understand why I live here and never want to leave.”

“You just stop thinking and simply enjoy the panorama – it touches your heart.”

Hiking guide Klaus Kühlechner

The view from the top of the Radsattel opens up to the heart of the Silvretta mountains

The best proof of this is the hike that Klaus is taking us on today: the panoramic trip around the Hohe Rad mountain. The hike starts at the Bielerhöhe and continues into the Bieltal valley and then across the Radsattel to the Wiesbadener Hütte at the foot of Piz Buin – at 3,312 metres, the highest peak in Vorarlberg. The fascinating round trip starts at the lake and leads hikers across green alpine meadows almost up to the glaciers. The vegetation becomes sparser with every metre climbed, trained eyes will recognise old moraines, deposits of debris and boulders, that are clear indicators of the glaciers’ former dimensions. The ice has, however, long since retreated, water gushes everywhere, cows graze beside the path. The first steep ledge already results in an encounter with the first hikers coming from the Wiesbadener Hütte. Some seem to be in a hurry and want to get back to the valley as quickly as they can. Others, like Petra Dimitrovova from the Czech Republic and Huyen Vuong from Vietnam, are more inclined towards taking their time, entirely in line with the motto: “The path is the destination.” The two young women work in Switzerland, live in Vorarlberg and are thrilled with the mountains. “There are, of course, mountains in Vietnam,” says Huyen, “but hiking is not at all popular there.” But she can find many like-minded people here. “We sit in the office all week,” says Petra, “so we need to do something to unwind at the weekend – and that’s what the mountains help us do. And you’re always meeting nice people.” And then the two set off again towards the valley albeit a bit hesitantly: “We’re a bit wary of the cows.”

Petra Dimitrovova from the Czech Republic and Huyen Vuong from Vietnam

High alpine panoramic trail around the Hohe Rad with the Bielerhöhe in the Background

And off we go: across alpine meadows and past grazing cows to the Radsattel mountain

Embedded: the Silvrettasee lake with the Hohe Rad and Piz Buin mountains

The view from the top of the Radsattel presents the heart of the Silvretta range and the still impressive Ochsentaler Glacier with its crevasses and tongues of ice. Fascinating, even for Jonas Hermann, who can’t take his eyes off the vista. He was born in Franconia in Germany and even as a child he couldn’t wait for his annual trip to see his grandparents in Pinzgau during the holidays. “I feel safe in the mountains,” says Jonas, “and I really missed them at my last job in Frankfurt, especially the peace and quiet and the endless nature.” He now lives and works in Tirol and it’s really easy for him to get to the mountains by public transport. “I like to go a little faster when I’m out, also because of the benefits that hiking brings as an exercise,” he says, “but I then occasionally like to stop for a little longer, take a seat and just look.”

We almost didn’t see the ibex for looking; it was standing just a few metres beside the path and was staring at us with curiosity. “Many of our guests find it almost incredible when they see such an impressive animal in nature.” Klaus is happy about the surprising encounter and adds: “Such experiences make the effort of making the long climb worthwhile.” The ibex would certainly have thrilled the Swijnenburg family’s two children but they’re even more excited about the large snow field they’ve discovered directly next to the trail. “We love the mountains, particularly because of the views,” raves Harry Swijnenburg about his holidays in the Alps. “We obviously don’t have any at home in the Netherlands.” He met his now wife Maud on a training course at an Alpine Club hut 22 years ago: “We now have two children and still enjoy hiking in the mountains.” The kids also like going to the sea, of course, but Harry says: “We’ve usually had enough of the water after two days.” The children are not quite as enthusiastic even if snowball fights in summer provide a welcome change and twelve-year-old Kelvin raves about the glaciers. Maud reveals how she motivates the children: “We’ve promised them that they can have Kaiserschmarrn when we stop for a break at the alpine hut.”

Happy to reach the summit: the Swijnenburg family from the Netherlands. Parents Maud and Harry met in the mountains

The dream of the summit demands a lot but it also gives a lot back

Day trippers, hikers and mountaineers sit comfortably together on the Wiesbadener Hütte’s terrace while landlords Emil Widmann and Tina Reyer and their team tirelessly serve drinks and food. The weekends are very busy for them and the hut’s 180-bed capacity is completely booked out. Tina is proud of their successful first season and the location in sight of the glaciers: “I simply feel more at home in rock and ice – I am not a classic alpine host.” But she hasn’t yet had time to climb Piz Buin. For others like Jochen Krauss and Thomas Ogermann from Germany, on the other hand, a dream has come true, they’ve just come from Piz Buin, the most famous peak in the Silvretta range of mountains. “That was a very special experience,” says a thrilled Jochen. “We had fog and sleet showers but the sun did come out for a short time at the summit.“ And hiking with crampons was especially exciting as it was a first for both of them. “It’s only natural that you sometimes push yourself to your limits in the mountains and sometimes you even have to go beyond them,” says Jochen, “but, in regard to Piz Buin, it was clear from the outset that we’d only go with a mountain guide.” A task that Andreas Pecl from the Vorarlberger Lawinenwarndienst (Vorarlberg Avalanche Warning Service) is happy to assume. He accompanied the two and is pleased with how the day went: “They handled themselves well.” Andreas has probably been up Piz Buin around one hundred times and he, too, looks forward to every tour in the mountains that are his home. “I’ve had many wonderful moments here even if they were often only brief – but those are precisely the times that make living here special.”

Piz Buin Bezwinger Andreas Pecl Thomas Ogermann und Jochen Krauss © Dietmar Denger / Vorarlberg Tourismus

Piz Buin conquerors: mountain guide Andreas Pecl (left), Thomas Ogermann and Jochen Krauss join forces to climb to the summit

Well-deserved break: a hearty snack awaits you at the Wiesbadener Hütte

Pushing the boundaries in a good way: writer Stefan Herbke and son Moritz made the panoramic trip together

    • Bielerhöhe-Radsattel

      Rund ums Hohe Rad

      Eine aufregende und spannende Hochgebirgstour in der Silvretta. Hier wnderst Du in der unwirklichen…

      • 15,9 km

      • 05:18 h

      • schwer

      Rund ums Hohe Rad
      Rund ums Hohe Rad
      Rund ums Hohe Rad
      Difficulty:schwer
      Distance:15,9 km
      Ascent:850 m
      Descent:850 m
      Duration:05:18 h
      Deepest point:2025 m
      Highest point:2658 m
      Condition:

      Experience:

      Landscape:

      Rund ums Hohe Rad

      Eine aufregende und spannende Hochgebirgstour in der Silvretta. Hier wnderst Du in der unwirklichen Gletscherlandschaft…

      Start of tour

      Silvretta-Bielerhöhe

      End of tour

      Silvretta-Bielerhöhe

      Description

      Grandioser Blick auf den Piz Buin (höchster Berg Vorarlbergs 3.312 m) und seine Gletscher, das Ursprungsgebiet der Ill. Die Wanderung führt in hochalpines Gelände.

      Die Silvretta-Hochalpenstraße (Mautstraße) gilt als eine der schönsten und beliebtesten Panoramastraßen der Alpen. Sie ist 22,3 km lang und führt von Partenen im Montafon in insgesamt 34 Kehren auf die 2.032 m hohe Silvretta-Bielerhöhe bis nach Galtür im Paznauntal.

      Best season
      JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUN
      JULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC
      All route info
    • Bielerhoehe-Radsattel

      Bielerhöhe – Radsattel

      Silvretta-Bielerhöhe - Bieltal - Radsattel - Wiesbadener Hütte - durchs Ochsental zurück zur Silvretta-Bielerhöhe

      • 15,2 km

      • 05:30 h

      • schwer

      Bielerhöhe – Radsattel
      Bielerhöhe – Radsattel
      Bielerhöhe – Radsattel
      Difficulty:schwer
      Distance:15,2 km
      Ascent:849 m
      Descent:850 m
      Duration:05:30 h
      Deepest point:2018 m
      Highest point:2653 m
      Condition:

      Experience:

      Landscape:

      Bielerhöhe – Radsattel

      Silvretta-Bielerhöhe - Bieltal - Radsattel - Wiesbadener Hütte - durchs Ochsental zurück zur Silvretta-Bielerhöhe

      Start of tour

      Silvretta-Bielerhöhe

      End of tour

      Silvretta-Bielerhöhe

      Description

      Öffnungszeiten der Wiesbadener Hütte, sind stark witterungsabhängig:

      Wiesbadener Hütte: Ende Juni bis Anfang Oktober

      Best season
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      JULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC
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The region

Montafon

Mighty chains of mountains ring the valley in southern Vorarlberg and 11 villages provide everything activity and nature enthusiasts appreciate: scenic hiking and mountain bike trails, as well as fast ski runs and freeriding slopes. All this is coupled with an attractive events programme that will inspire you to join in and try something new.

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