The history
of the Kaunertal Glacier Road

From pilgrim trail to popular excursion road

Most of the Kaunertal Glacier Road follows old tracks on its route: there was a pilgrimage route from the pilgrimage site of Kaltenbrunn in the Kaunertal Valley (Tyrol, Austria) via the Weißseejoch (2960 m) to Melagg in the Langtauferer Valley (South Tyrol, Italy) at an early date. Pilgrim and pilgrimage routes often follow old paths and historical road connections that date back far into the Middle Ages.

Today the Kaunertal Glacier Road is a popular destination for bus passengers, motorcyclists, car travellers and also cyclists. Approximately 150,000 guests a year visit one of the most beautiful high alpine roads in Austria in summer alone. Get to know the Kaunertal Glacier Road as well as sights and nature along the road. A summer holiday in Tyrol remains an unforgettable experience.

1911 ... message in a bottle & summer skiing on the glacier

A bottle found on the glacier from 1911:
While crossing the Gepatsch glacier in the summer of 2003, Alois Gfall from Kaunertal came across a surprising find! A green bottle lay in the glacier ice. Inside the bottle he found well-preserved, handwritten notes. The senders of the message in the bottle were the Arlberg Ski Club and the Munich Ski Club, who were skiing here on the Gepatschferner glacier in the summer of 1911.

1930...with the post bus on the way to high alpine mountain tours

In the 1930s, a trip by post bus to the Gepatschhaus was a tourist attraction. Since 1932 there is a post bus line from Feichten to the Gepatschhaus. At that time it led over gravelled alpine paths and meadows. Hikers and mountain tourists came with this post bus to make excursions into the rear Kaunertal valley or to reach the Gepatschgau, from where they made high-apine glacier tours.

1961 - 1965...the construction of the Gepatsch reservoir

Where once the Mandarf soil was, on which alpine cattle and Haflinger grazed, is now the Gepatsch reservoir. From 1961 – 1965 the Tiroler Wasserkraft AG (TIWAG) built the reservoir with the highest natural dam in Europe in the Kaunertal Valley. (140 million litres storage volume, 160 m high embankment wall). In the course of this construction activity, the road from Feichten to the dam was widened to 2 lanes and asphalted.

1979 - 1980...Development of the Kaunertal glacier

From 1979 to 1980, the Kaunertal Glacier Road was extended from the reservoir up to the Glacier Restaurant at 2,750 m to make the Kaunertal Glacier summer ski area accessible to skiers.

Vision, tourism and economic living space

Eugen Larcher, visionary and glacier pioneer, was allowed to accompany his father Eduard Larcher on a mountain tour in Switzerland as a teenager. In Zermatt, he saw for the first time that the glacier areas were accessible for skiing with lifts. This image never left him. Consistently, persistently and persistently he and his companions pursued the goal of opening up the Kaunertal Glacier for skiing in his home valley. His motivation was the poverty he had experienced and the goal of establishing an economic living space with secure jobs in the Kaunertal Valley. Through mountaineering, the mountain farmers were able to earn some extra money as mountain guides. Knowing full well that the real economic power lay in stable tourism with a good infrastructure, the Kaunertal Glacier Road was originally planned and built as a feeder road to the summer skiing area.
Today it is Austria’s most beautiful cul-de-sac and is affectionately called the dream road to the eternal ice. It is a popular, well-attended excursion road that is open all year round and gives the visitor safe access to the high mountains of the Kaunertal Valley and the Kaunergrat Nature Park region.

Planners of the Kaunertal Glescherstraße: DI Helmut Sterzinger and Ing. Rupert Amann

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