Timmelsjoch Road Timmelsjochstrasse
The Timmelsjoch Road (Timmelsjochstrasse; toll road) crosses the Timmelsjoch, a pass almost 2,500m/8,200ft high, to link the Ötztal in Tirol with the Passeiertal (Val Passiria) in Italy, marking part of the Austro-Italian frontier. The road is normally open only from mid June to mid October (during the daytime); on the Italian side it is suitable only for cars (trailer caravans prohibited).
The Timmelsjoch Road begins at Untergurgl (1,793m/5,885ft), and from there to the top of the pass it is 11.4km/7mi; max. gradient 11% (1 in 9). There is a chairlift from Untergurgl to Hochgurgl.
Timmelsjoch Road descent to Passiria, Italy
The Timmelsjoch Road on the Italian side (trailer caravans prohibited; narrow in places, several tunnels) descends the Val Passiria, passing through Moso (1,007m/3,304ft; German Moos), and in 27km/17mi reaches San Leonardo (683m/2,241ft; German St Leonhard), which has many mementos of the Austrian patriot Andreas Hofer (1767-1810). From here it is another 20km/12mi to Merano.
A little way to the south of Untergurgl and the Timmelsjoch road, at the head of the Gurgltal - the eastern continuation of the Ötztal - lies Obergurgl (1,927m/6,324ft), Tirol's highest parish, now a modern tourist resort with excellent skiing (several lifts) and an Alpine climbing school.
To the south of Obergurgl rears the Grosser Gurgler Ferner (Great Gurgl Glacier), on which Professor Auguste Picard landed in his stratospheric balloon in 1931, after being the first man to reach a height of 15,781m/51,777ft. A chairlift runs southward up to the Gaisberg (2,071m/6,795ft), and another lift continues up the Hohe Mut (2,659m/8,724ft), from which there are breathtaking views of the area around the Gaisbergferner (20 glaciers). A further chairlift from Obergurgl ascends in a southeasterly direction to the Festkogel (3,035m/9,958ft; upper station 2,642m/8,668ft).