On 19 September 1991, two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simon, were walking off the path between the mountain passes Hauslabjoch and Tisenjoch when they stumbled upon an unusual finding. There, at an elevation of 3,210 metres (10,530 ft), frozen in time, was the body of a deceased mountaineer. The following day, a mountain gendarme and the keeper of the nearby Similaunhütte first attempted to remove the body, which was frozen in ice below the torso, using a pneumatic drill and ice-axes, but had to give up due to bad weather. Three days after the discovery, the body was officially extracted and transported to Innsbruck.
It didn’t take long for archaeologist Konrad Spindler at the University of Innsbruck to date the discovery to be approximately 4 thousand years old, the most ancient finding of a European hunter, ever. Subsequently, the discovery has been named Ötzi aka. the Iceman and is officially Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy, providing scientists and archaeologists an unprecedented view of Chalcolithic Europeans.
If you’re visiting The Chalet, at 11º East and you have a penchant for history and hiking, you are in luck as the original site of where Ötzi was discovered is an easy day trip from Obergurgl.
Depart from through the Niedertal Valley to the Similaunhütte (3,019 m – 4.5 hours walking time). The last half hour takes you over the Niederjoch-Ferner glacier. From the Similaunhütte a hiking trail runs along the ridge to the find site (3,200 m – 1-hour walking time).
What you Need
Proper hiking boots with treaded sole, rain and sun protection, warm clothing with wind protection.
What You’ll See
Gorgeous views of the Tirolean Alps and the original discovery site of Ötzi between the mountain passes Hauslabjoch and Tisenjoch.
If you would like to learn more about Ötzi and his story before the hike, visit the website of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, where Ötzi remains today, http://www.iceman.it/en/oetzi-the-iceman