High Tauern

The High Tauern (pl.; German: Hohe Tauern, Italian: Alti Tauri) are a mountain range on the main chain of the Central Eastern Alps, comprising the highest peaks east of the Brenner Pass. The crest forms the southern border of the Austrian states of Salzburg, Carinthia and East Tyrol, with a small part in the southwest belongs to the Italian province of South Tyrol. The range includes Austria's highest mountain, the Grossglockner at 3,798 metres (12,461 ft) above the Adriatic.

High Tauern
Panorama of the Venediger Group
Highest point
Elevation3,798 m (12,461 ft)
Coordinates47°04′30″N 12°41′40″E
Length130 km (81 mi)
Width50 km (31 mi)
Location in the Alps
CountriesAustria and Italy
StatesSalzburg, Carinthia, Tyrol and South Tyrol
Range coordinates47°10′N 12°30′E
Parent rangeCentral Eastern Alps
Age of rockPaleozoic
Type of rockGneiss, Schist

In the east, the range is adjoined by the Lower Tauern. For the etymology of the name, see Tauern.


According to the Alpine Club classification of the Eastern Alps, the range is bounded by the Salzach valley to the north (separating it from the Kitzbühel Alps), the Mur valley and the Murtörl Pass to the east (separating it from the Lower Tauern), the Drava valley to the south (separating it from the Southern Limestone Alps), and the Birnlücke Pass to the west (separating it from the Zillertal Alps).

Its most important subgroups along the Alpine crest are (from West to East):

The eastern end of the High Tauern is formed by the Hafner massif of the Ankogel Group, which includes the easternmost three-thousander peaks in the Alpine chain.

Further parts of the High Tauern south of the main crest of the Alps are (from West to East):

High Tauern National Park

Along 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the main chain stretches the High Tauern National Park (Nationalpark Hohe Tauern), to which the Austrian Alpine Club as freeholder and the three states of Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol have contributed territory. With an area of about 1,834 square kilometres (708 sq mi), it is by far the largest of Austria's seven national parks as well as the largest nature reserve in the Alps.[1] It is divided into a core zone of 1,198 square kilometres (463 sq mi) including the Grossglockner and Grossvenediger massifs, with complete prohibition of agricultural use, and a fringe zone of 638 square kilometres (246 sq mi) used for forestry and alpine-meadow farming. Five special nature sanctuaries are protected from any human disturbance.

The park of the IUCN II category comprises the Pasterze and numerous further glaciers, the Krimml Waterfalls, several glacial valleys and alluvial fans, as well as extended tundra areas and forests. Among the flora of the Alps, especially Swiss Pines grow along the tree line; above subshrub, mainly alpenrose but also the endemic Saxifraga rudolphiana, up to nival level at about 2,800 m (9,200 ft). The fauna includes chamois, Alpine ibex and red deer, as well as griffon vulture and the golden eagle. The formerly extinct bearded vulture and the Alpine marmot have been successfully reintroduced.

The park was established according to a 1971 declaration signed by the participating states at Heiligenblut, it nevertheless took until 1981, when the first parts around Großglockner and Hochschober in Carinthia were put under protection. The adjacent area in Salzburg followed two years later, and Tyrol finally joined in 1992. Tourism only increased marginally since the creation of the national park, but has become less harmful to the environment. A particular emphasis is put on environmental protection and the maintenance of traditional ways of life in the Alps.


The main peaks of the High Tauern are:

Peak Group Elevation (m/ft) Prominence (m/ft)
Großglockner Glockner 3798 12,461 2423 7,949
Großvenediger Venediger 3666 12,028 1199 3,934
Großes Wiesbachhorn Glockner 3564 11,693 477 1,565
Dreiherrnspitze Venediger 3499 11,480 591 1,939
Rötspitze Venediger 3496 11,470 653 2,142
Johannisberg Glockner 3453 11,329 277 909
Hochgall Rieserferner 3436 11,273 1148 3,766
Hoher Eichham Venediger 3371 11,060 325 1,066
Hoher Tenn Glockner 3368 11,050 335 1,099
Malhamspitze Venediger 3368 11,050 319 1,047
Hochalmspitze Ankogel 3360 11,024 942 3,091
Großer Geiger Venediger 3360 11,024 293 961
Schneebiger Nock Rieserferner 3358 11,017 542 1,778
Fuscherkarkopf Glockner 3331 10,928 489 1,604
Keeskogel Venediger 3291 10,797 373 1,224
Schlieferspitze Venediger 3290 10,794 513 1,683
Petzeck Schober 3283 10,771 802 2,631
Roter Knopf Schober 3281 10,764 556 1,824
Ankogel Ankogel 3264 10,709 570 1,870
Hocharn Goldberg 3254 10,676 678 2,224
Großer Hornkopf Schober 3251 10,666 456 1,496
Hohe Fürlegg Venediger 3243 10,640 385 1,263
Hochschober Schober 3242 10,636 438 1,437
Großer Muntanitz Granatspitze 3232 10,604 717 2,352
Hocheiser Glockner 3206 10,518 577 1,893
Glödis Schober 3206 10,518 370 1,214
Kitzsteinhorn Glockner 3204 10,512 439 1,440
Durreck Venediger 3135 10,285 626 2,054
Hoher Sonnblick Goldberg 3106 10,196 271 889
Lasörling Venediger 3098 10,164 490 1,608
Großer Hafner Hafner 3068 10,066 868 2,848
Hoher Prijakt Schober 3064 10,052 470 1,542
Weisse Spitze Villgraten 2963 9,721 920 3,018
Mölltaler Polinik Kreuzeck 2784 9,134 1580 5,184

Tunnels and passes

The High Tauern are crossed by three tunnels:

The best-known mountain pass road of the High Tauern is the scenic Grossglockner High Alpine Road inaugurated in 1935, including a tunnel at an elevation of 2,505 metres (8,219 ft) under the Hochtor Pass (2,573 metres (8,442 ft)). East of it, the Katschberg Pass (1,641 metres (5,384 ft)) on B 99 Katschberg Straße highway parallel to the Katschberg Tunnel links Sankt Michael and Rennweg. Another road crosses the Staller Sattel between Sankt Jakob in Defereggen and Rasen-Antholz at 2,052 metres (6,732 ft).

Beside there are numerous bridle and footpaths, in part used since ancient times:

Mountain passLocationTypeElevation (m/ft)
RiffeltorKaprun to Heiligenblutsnow305110,010
BockkarscharteFerleiten to Heiligenblutsnow30469994
SonnblickscharteRauris to Heiligenblutsnow29799774
Vörder UmbaltorlPrägraten to Ahrntalsnow29289607
ObersulzbachtorlPrägraten to Wald im Pinzgausnow29269600
UntersulzbachtorlInnergschlöß to Wald im Pinzgausnow28659400
SchwarzkopfscharteInnergschlöß to Brambergsnow28509351
PrägratertorlPrägraten to Defereggentalfootpath28469338
GlodistorlLienz to Kalssnow28329292
AntholzerscharteRein in Taufers to Rasen-Antholzsnow28209252
KrimmlertorlKrimmler Achental to Obersulzbachtalsnow28149233
GoldzechscharteRauris to Heiligenblutsnow28109220
KalsertorlLienz to Kalssnow28039197
Ober TramerscharteRauris to Döllachsnow28029193
Kleine ElendscharteBad Gastein to Gmündsnow27398987
Kleine ZirknitzscharteRauris to Döllachsnow27198921
MallnitzerscharteMallnitz to Gmündsnow26778783
Große ElendscharteMallnitz to upper Maltatalsnow26738770
Unter PfandlscharteFerleiten to Heiligenblutsnow26658744
BergertorlFerleiten to Heiligenblutfootpath26508695
KaprunertorlKaprun to upper Stubachtalsnow26358645
Virgner or DefereggertorlDefereggental to Virgenfootpath26178586
Backlenke or TrojerjochDefereggental to Prägratenfootpath26138573
Felber TauernMatrei in Osttirol to Mittersillbridle path25408334
Kalser TauernKals to Mittersillfootpath25128242
Hohe TauernBad Gastein to Mallnitzbridle path24638081
Niedere or Mallnitzer TauernBad Gastein to Mallnitzbridle path24147920
FuschertorlFerleiten to the Seidlwinkeltalfootpath24057891
KlammljochDefereggental to Sand in Taufersbridle path22917517
ArlscharteGmünd to Sankt Johann im Pongaufootpath22517386
Kals MatreiertorlKals to Matreibridle path22067238
StanzBad Gastein to Raurisfootpath21036900

See also


  1. The largest nature reserve of the Alps ... at www.hohetauern.at. Accessed on 10 Jul 2011.
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