Via Ferrata Hoachwool
in Naturno
Via Ferrata Hoachwool

Challenging via ferrata

at the entrance to the Schnalstal Valley.

The Hoachwool via ferrata was opened in 2015, but it is not entirely new: the route and course of the via ferrata Hoachwool are partly based on the course of the historical irrigation channel "Schnalswaal". In order to be able to manage the dry slopes, the farmers spared no effort to To divert high mountain streams and lead them to the slopes and into the valley via an artificial rampart system. The “Schnolswool” or “Hoache Wool” was constructed in 1830-33 with the most primitive means. The whales were cared for and cared for by Waalers, and anyone who wanted to practice this important profession had to have an impeccable reputation. Unlike the section on the upper part, which was so dangerous that applicants had to meet only two criteria: vertigo-free and absolutely sure-footed.

Ludwig Gorfer also brings these two qualities. The mountain guide was the leader behind the via ferrata, played a leading role and set it up. A via ferrata, however, is never finished: time and again it improves points or defuses difficult passages.

The via ferrata overcomes a height difference of 630 meters, the climbing time is indicated with 4. 5 hours. Especially the second half is characterized by some steep vertical passages of difficulty D, with the new variant even E/F. This means: Difficult for experienced climbers, everyone else should not try it at all. While many other via ferrata in the Alps can only be reached after long walks, the easy access to the via ferrata Hoachwool also tempts inexperienced climbers to try it out. The result: regular rescue operations of Merano Mountain Rescue, an average of ten per year. The most common reasons why the emergency call is dialed: exhaustion and too little water. Besides the difficulty, many underestimate the heat in the via ferrata exposed to the southwest.

Climbing in the shadow of Juval Castle: Opposite the Hoachwool is Juval Castle, the home of the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner. In addition to his residence, the castle also houses a museum dedicated to the theme of “The Myth of the Mountain”. Speaking of myth: The via ferrata is guarded by a striking stone figure, the “Steger Frau”. This is a farmer from the local mythical world, whose tantrums were feared. Roaring with anger, she once hurled a goat into the depths of the Schnalstal Gorge and while her gaze followed the animal, a terrible storm brewed over Naturns together. When the sky lightened again, Steger Frau and one of her children were petrified as rocks on the Sonnenberg. Legend has it that they will not be rescued until there is no longer a living creature in the world to be tormented.
La nuova scala gigante e la vista che vi attende sull'Hoachwool
Path and fixed rope route:

Approach: from the car park in Naturns-Kompatsch take the pavement past the bottom station of the Unterstell cable car then follow the path along the Waal to the mouth of the Schnalstal Valley. The climb starts on the west bank of the stream.
Fixed rope route, section 1: follow the stream up past the Juval climbing park via a short steep stage to the impressive rope bridge over the Schnalsbach stream.
Fixed rope route, section 2: from the bridge climb via stepped terrain to the sloping plates that lead to the horizontal part of the fixed rope route and the old Waal. This is the start of the singular, exposed section along the abyss via larch wood conduits. There is a steep wall to negotiate before you reach the “Sattele” rest area.
Fixed rope route, section 3: continue left, downwards at first on an old path and then upwards via beautiful compact rocks. The fixed rope passes through plates, grooves and edges up to the head of a buttress. From this point the route becomes significantly easier up to the finish on the Höfl pasture.

The trail follows the fence on the Höfl pasture to the intersection with path no. 10 (Naturns-Unterstell). There are two options after the gate: either take the path down past the “Schwalbennest” to the bottom station, or climb (20 minutes) to the top station where a welcoming guesthouse awaits. From there take the cable car down to the valley.

Time required and difficulty m.a.s.l. up to m.a.s.l. Height gained Grade Time approx.
Car park at bottom of Unterstell cable car 535 Start 555 20 easy 30 min
Enter rope bridge 555 Rope bridge 620 65 B/C 30 min
From rope bridge 620 Finish 1.120 500 C/D
180 min
Finish (top) to top station of cable car 1.120 Top station 1.280 160 easy 20 min
Descent from top to path no. 10 1.120 Parking 535 580 easy 60 min

Total tour time: 4.5 hours, of which 3.5 hours climbing, fixed rope length 1.530 metres, orientation West. 
History carved in stone...

The fixed rope route runs along the historic Schnals Valley irrigation channel near Naturns; this was previously some 10 kilometres long and known locally as the “Hoachwool”. It ran at an altitude of 850 metres from Altratheis in the Schnals Valley to the farms on the Naturns Sonnenberg mountain. Constructed between 1830 and 1833, it was the most difficult project of its kind in the history of Waal-building in the Vinschgau Valley, traversing the dizzying rock faces at the mouth of the Schnalsbach stream. Using very primitive equipment, conduits made of larch planks (“Wieren” or “Kahndln” in local dialect) had to be laid on iron girders wedged into the vertical rock wall. Two “Waaler” (channel keepers), who also had to be excellent climbers, maintained the Hoachwool. The most dangerous part of the Waal was closed in 1910: the incredible achievements of these Waaler can today be fully experienced on the new larch planks.
Via Ferrata Hoachwool