Günther-Messner-Steig (13:21 pm)

The Günther-Messner-Steig in South Tyrol


Günther Messner was a twenty-four year old mountaineer from Villnöß, South Tyrol (Südtirol), who perished in the Himalaya mountain range more than five decades ago.

He was a younger brother of Reinhold Messner, who himself had been involved in the events leading to his brother’s disappearance at the merciless Nanga Parba mountain in June 1970.

In the 2000s, human remains of Günther Messner were discovered at the mountain faces, what brought some light to the exact circumstances of his death.

His ordeal in the mountains is honoured in the “Messner Mountain Museum” in South Tyrol, and his name is still alive in places around the city of Brixen (Bressanone) where he was born.

Signpost at the Günther-Messner-Steig at 2190 meters (September 10, 12:03 pm)
Signpost at the Günther-Messner-Steig at 2190 meters (September 10, 12:00 pm)

The Günther-Messner-Steig, September 10

Hiking the Günther-Messner-Steig is a demanding mountain tour over the ridge of the Aferer Geisler peaks which are a part of the Dolomites (themselves part of the Alps) in South Tyrol.

The more difficult section starts at the foot of the Tullen peak (2653 meters AMSL), given traversing the Steig from west to east. Here I encountered the steepest scarps tumbling precipitously on all sides and a good deal of the via ferrata passages.

Using mountaineering gear in higher altitudes is never a bad idea, a helmet and a via ferrata set (Klettersteigset) that is, though one can do fine without such equipment provided having sound climbing experience.

Doing the Günther-Messner-Steig is not as difficult as ascending the Sass Rigais mountain (3025 meters AMSL) farther south, for instance, where such gear would be mandatory (Reinhold Messner himself climbed this particular mountain at the age of five as his very first 3000 meters mountain).

Tullen lay about one hour behind me as the path got rather plain and easy to walk for the most part with a few exceptions (one notable exception is a long metal ladder that is fun to climb up), so I could enjoy an expansive view to the Dolomites while pushing forward.

My next-to-last destination after descending south towards the elongated Villnösstal, located between the Aferer Geisler and the Geislergruppe, was the Schlüter chalet (Schlüterhütte) on 2306 meters, a spacious and cosy alpine hut.

A magnificent view to the Dolomites, seen from near the Schlüter chalet (15:10 pm)
A magnificent view to the Dolomites, seen from near the Schlüter chalet (15:10 pm)

From there one can hike in around one hour to the Rifugio Zannes, my final destination and a trailhead for many mountain tours, where there is an hourly bus to Brixen (summer season) and a large parking lot.

Featured image: Near the first via ferrata passages at the Günther-Messner-Steig