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After Zwieselstein, the main southbound road continues climbing towards the hamlet of Untergurgl, before ascending above the tree line a few kilometres further on to OBERGURGL, its valley girdled by glaciers and hemmed in by ridges and summits well in excess of 3000m. It's a place that revolves largely around winter sports, although a steady stream of hikers is drawn here over the summer by an unparalleled menu of 'alpine walks'. The local tourist office (Mon– Fri 9am–5pm, Sat 9am– noon; Tel:05256/6466, Web: www.obergurgl.com ) is in the centre of the village – where buses from Sölden stop – and has lists of private rooms in Obergurgl and Untergurgl as well as Hochgurgl higher up.
The downhill ski industry has claimed some of the slopes around Obergurgl, but plenty of good walks remain amidst dramatic mountain scenery. One of the best, which doesn't involve glacier crossing, is to the Hochwildehaus (phone the Langtalereck Hütte: Tel:0664/5268-655), a hut set fabulously on the east bank of the Gurglerferner glacier, at the head of which rise the Hochwilde (3482m), Annakogel (3336m), Mitterkamm (3200m) and Karles-Spitze (3469m), among other peaks. The route is straightforward, takes about four to five hours from Obergurgl, and visits both the Schönwies and Langtalereck huts on the way. Both of these are in idyllic locations – the first at the mouth of the Rotmoostal glen, the second with a full frontal view of the Gurglerferner's icefall.
On the west flank of the Gurglertal, opposite the Langtalereck Hütte but almost four hundred metres higher, sits the Ramolhaus (Tel:05256/6223), another DAV hut wardened in the summer months. A recommended walk to it along the Ötztaler Jungschützenweg takes about three and a half hours from Obergurgl, and makes an excellent introduction to the valley. There is, however, a longer traverse for fit walkers, along a trail that begins at Zwieselstein about 18km from the Ramolhaus, and with a difference in altitude of 1556m. Several small tarns add sparkle to the landscape along the way, and there are a few modest summits accessible to walkers on the ridge above. The most northerly is the 3163-metre Nederkogel, from whose summit you can see the snowy masses of the Ötztaler Alps spread in a great arc, while to the east, across the deep Ötztal, the Stubai Alps are equally impressive.