HIGH SO­CI­ETY

Otz­tal Glacier, Aus­tria 5-7 days

Motorcycle News (UK) - - 2016 Missions Spring Edition -

Aus­tria has some mag­nif­i­cent Alpine passes – but for the real high­light, you need to head for a dead-end road. The Ötz­taller glacier road twists its way into the moun­tains above Sölden, pass­ing be­neath ca­ble-cars and clam­ber­ing past the tree­line, to a pair of ski cen­tres.

There is a small toll to be paid (€5 in 2015) and I don’t know if that puts peo­ple off or it it’s just that this is a wellkept se­cret, but the road is quiet. Re­ally quiet. There are dozens of bikes hur­ry­ing along the val­ley be­low, on their way to the fa­mous Tim­mel­sjoch pass, but only a hand­ful turn off to come up here. Their loss.

Shortly be­fore the top there’s an or­na­men­tal arch built across the road, proudly boast­ing “Hochster punk­t­strasser in Europas” (high­est paved road in Europe). Car­ry­ing straight on round an­other cou­ple of hair­pins, there’s a park­ing area with an­other sign re­peat­ing the claim – un­der­mined ever so slightly by the pre­ci­sion of the Aus­tri­ans. You see, they put the height on it… which is a mere 2798m. Lower than France’s 2802m Cime de la Bon­nette.

The fact is, this park­ing area isn’t the high­est bit: that’s the spur road lead­ing to the sec­ond ski cen­tre. It emerges from a long, steep tun­nel to hug a cliff and post an alti­tude of 2830m… but there’s no space there for a me­mo­rial arch where vis­i­tors can gather to take a pic­ture.

Frankly, the num­bers don’t mat­ter. What counts is the qual­ity of the road, which is sub­lime – dozens of bril­liant cor­ners with ma­jes­tic views and no traf­fic. It’s a great place to ride: def­i­nitely the high­light of a trip to the area.

Great roads, cas­tles and a leg­endary race track

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