If you are at Stelvio Pass and have a few hours, do not miss climbing Geisterspitze (Punta degli Spiriti, 3467 m) which is the highest peak that can be climbed from the pass.
Basic information about the mountain
- Altitude: 3467 m (11375 ft).
- Coordinates: 46.499747 N; 10.474273 E.
- Normal route elevation difference: 710 m (2329 ft).
- Geisterspitze (Punta degli Spiriti) is a part of the Ortler group.
What about the name
You have seen two versions in the title above, one is the German name and the other is the Italian name. On Wikipedia, you will see it also under the name Cima degli Spiriti. Note that it is sometimes under the name Geister Spitze instead of Geisterspitze.
Roughly translated, this name in English means Peak of Ghosts or Peak of Spirits, something like this, correct me if I am wrong.
How to climb
The Geisterspitze (Punta degli Spiriti) is in the south-east direction from the pass and it is surrounded by glaciers on all sides. This is a ski area throughout the year so you will have to navigate between skiers that are here in hundreds. To avoid the crowd you can go earlier before ski lifts start.
I always wanted to climb it, have been on Stelvio many times, and climbed the other peaks around, but somehow missed this peak with such a mysterious name.
The easiest approach is from the Stelvio Pass (2757 m) where you have plenty of space to leave the car, so the altitude difference is modest, you have only 710 m (2329 ft). You walk up in the south-east direction, there are buildings around, this is a very urbanized area at a high altitude.
There are no signs for the peak route at the pass. So focus on the route that is very roughly marked in the picture below, just to have some idea where you are supposed to go. A zoomable map with access roads is in my text about Stelvio Pass.
From Rifugio Pirovano (Hotel Ortler) you will be on the glacier, and this is where I put my crampons, but you can continue without them. The glacier is safe because it is maintained for skiers, and the peak will be visible in front of view as the picture below shows.
At this moment it was not clear to me how I should approach the summit, from the left or from the right. But as I came closer it became obvious that this should be from the right. There is a building with engines for the ski lift that is on the west side between the Punta degli Spiriti and Hohe Scheneide (Monte Cristallo), so this is the direction to go.
The picture below shows the view back from the glacier, and you can see Nagler Spitze (Punta del Nasso, 3272 m) on the left.
From the mentioned ski lift engine building it will be clear how to go to the summit, it is a walk all the time but it is steep in the final part.
The summit itself is completely surrounded by glaciers and this is why I was puzzled with these steps in the summit ridge, see the picture below. Clearly, there is a small mammal that lives there in the rock, I have no idea what this is and how it survives at such an altitude that is always under ice and snow.
So there is a short summit ridge with snow but the actual summit is without snow or ice, see it here:
This is the view in the south-east direction along the ridge:
Ortler (3905 m) looks magnificent from here just like from any other place, see it below:
In the west direction you have Monte Cristallo (Hohe Schneide, 3434 m), it looks small here but this is also an impressive peak:
I would suggest not to go without crampons if you go early, everything will be icy and rock solid. If you go later, the snow on the glacier becomes soft, and the same is on the snow below the summit, so it is doable without crampons.
The boots shown in the picture above (Stelvio Pass is far below) I used mainly as a part of the effort to break them in. I was really delighted to realize how well they performed when I was without crampons, the soles would cut into the snow with ease and I felt very stable with them.
You do not need a helmet here, but make sure you have sunglasses and a cap. I have also had my trekking poles, an ice axe is not necessary. My Osprey Stratos 24 pack shown above was big enough for such a tour.
I started at 7:30 AM and I was on the summit at 10. It can be done faster if you want to rush, I had plenty of time and enjoyed the climb.
My initial idea was to try to continue to Monte Cristallo, and I had plenty of time for this. But the snow was already very soft and walking over large snow areas was becoming impossible.
In summary, if you are acclimatized this is a relatively easy tour at a high altitude and anybody can do it. This is a simple walk up all the time. Fully recommended.
There are hotels around, and you can find many online. I have a very good experience with Booking. com. They also offer fully furnished apartments and houses. I have used their services many times in the past and can fully recommend them.
Thank you for reading. You might want to check also this report about Monte Scorluzzo which is the peak closest to the Pass. There is a comment box below so let me know if you have any questions or comments.